With the pending release of Star Wars Episode III, Star Wars fans the world over have been whipped into a veritable frenzy with the promise of further adventures and merchandise based on that famous Galaxy far, far away.
With great anticipation, I like many other gamers awaited the release of the new game Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy from the creative minds at Raven Software and Lucasarts. The game is a 3D shooter that is set ten years after "Return of the Jedi" when the New Republic is being menaced by the evil remnant of the Empire that seeks to reclaim their former status as rulers of the galaxy, and a mysterious cult of Sith warriors. Players are able to select their character’s sex, species, and clothing as you start as a Jedi apprentice.
Before long, players find themselves working with Kyle Kattarn (The players character from previous chapters), as the duo embark on a series of missions designed to uncover the mystery behind the Sith cult and the threat it poses to the Jedi and New Republic. Players also get to embark on a number of solo missions and the game allows players to select from a variety of missions in addition to the core missions of the game.
The artwork of the game is outstanding as the look of everything from ships to bars is authentic to the Star Wars setting. Seeing the passenger ships come and go as well as listening in on conversations of characters in the game is amazing. On more than one occasion, I became totally immersed in the story and settings and was in awe of the detail and complexity of the game. I especially enjoyed the Hoth levels, as it was great to explore the Rebel base from "The Empire Strikes Back" and ride a Tauntaun. Other locations of note include Coruscant, Yavin 4 and Tattooine in addition to a host of new locations.
The dazzling away of weapons available is good, but nothing compares to using the lightsaber and force powers that allow players to perform a wide variety of functions ranging from enhanced leaps, speed, pushing, pulling, healing, and some offensive moves such as force lightening and choke. When using the lightsaber, the view switches from first to third person and allows players a wide range of arch in which to attack and defend. My favorite tactic is to use the force speed during attacks to move circles around foes as I dispatch them.
The game offers some fantastic challenges, as players have to use their minds rather than rely solely on combat to complete the game. The sound effects are simply the best I have heard in a game in a long time and the ever-present Star Wars music perfectly sets the tone for the adventure. Players will take delight in seeing some familiar faces in the game as Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca at various stages of the game is a nice touch.
I do not want to spoil the game so I will refrain from mentioning more of the settings and weapons that players have in store for them but suffice it to say, they will not be disappointed. Jedi Academy is by far the best game in recent memory and easily the best Star Wars game ever created. The Multiplay factor of the game is outstanding as there are several styles of online play that would warm the heart of even the darkest Sith Lord. My favorite is the siege mode where players form teams and select ability classes to complete missions.
If I had to point out any flaws with the game I would say that having to reset my controls for certain Force Powers and graphics every time I loaded was a pain, and that some weapons would fire now and then on their own. This is a minor compliant for what is destined to be a gaming classic and a very worthy follow up to the fantastic Jedi Knight series.