Jedi Outcast Makes the Grade
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Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is a cross between the original dark forces shooters and Obi-Wan (http://www.gameindustry.com/reviews/020422obiwan.asp). Once again you step into the shoes of Kyle Katarn a one time imperial, mercenary, Rebel Operative, and Jedi Knight. With the help of his friend and pilot Jan Ors they travel the galaxy working for the republic. At the start of the game, Kyle has renounced his Jedi title, turned his light saber over to Luke Skywalker, and let his ability to control of the force fade away. He did this for fear of turning to the dark side.
The game opens with Kyle and Jan getting an assignment from Mon Mothma to check out a planet. Once he and Jan arrive they find a hornet's nest of imperial storm troopers and officers. As I just said, Kyle has renounced his Jedi powers, so the first part of the game is a standard shooter, with the added bonus that the story is set in the Star Wars universe.
Once again the developers of this series have come up with an outstanding storyline for Outcast. I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, but about halfway through the game something happens and Kyle realizes that he is going to need his Jedi powers back.
He then travels to Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy to get his light saber back. Luke makes him run through a series of trials, which basically means force power training, before he will return Kyle's light saber. After that point in the game, Kyle has both his light saber and force powers as well as all the guns he had at the beginning of the game.
Believe it or not, the control interface for all these different options is pretty easy to get the hang of. The controls are pretty standard. Left thumb stick for movement, right for looking around. D-pad for cycling though inventory, weapons, and force powers. It did seem to me though, that in the Obi-wan game, it was easier to block shots and in general use the light saber.
All the levels are well stocked with puzzles, locked doors, hidden/secret areas and lots of bad guys. I tend to clear out the level and then spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I am supposed to do, and where I am supposed to go. During the second phase, the level is pretty devoid of bad guys and the levels always seem big and empty to me at that point.
Graphically speaking Outcast is not cutting edge, but I have no complaints and the sound quality of almost all the Star Wars games put out by Lucas Arts Entertainment more than make up for any of their deficiencies. I imagine it would be hard to go wrong with access to all the sounds from 5 movies and tons of previous games. That being said, I think they did a particularly good job with the sound track for outcast.
Least I forget, Outcast also features a multiplayer arena, where you can duke it out with your buddy light saber to light saber. The arena seemed tacked onto the game, but heck, who cares when you are beating the crap out of your buddy with a light saber? After watching all five movies, the only thing better than this would be if someone developed a light saber controller to work with the game.
With Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Lucas Arts has managed to once again bring all the pieces together to make a really fun and challenging game. Combine all the background that makes up the Star Wars universe with a neat storyline, challenging combat, interesting puzzles, good graphics, great sound effects and music, along with easy to use controls and you can't go wrong.
Chris Richards is a Gin Product Tester. He played his first game in 1985, Rogue, and it has been downhill ever since. Chris can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.