Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Review
Jedi Outcast is simply one of the easiest games to recommend this year.
A good first impression is always important. Surprisingly, LucasArts and Raven Software's Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast doesn't really give one. Instead, the third game in the long-running Star Wars-themed shooter series initially gives the impression that it's a flashy but basic action game that isn't as ambitious as its highly acclaimed predecessor, Jedi Knight. However, Jedi Outcast soon transforms from a typical first-person shooter to an exceptional Star Wars action game that contains some of the best combat sequences since Half-Life, the most distinctive control mechanics since Max Payne, and the most involving plot in a Star Wars game since Jedi Knight.
As in the two previous games in this series, Jedi Knight II casts you in the role of Kyle Katarn, a gruff mercenary who lends his smuggling skills to the Rebellion during its uprising against the Empire. Katarn has a storied past that has been well chronicled in the original Dark Forces and its sequel Jedi Knight, and fans of the series will be glad to know that his moody manner and subtle pessimism remain intact in Jedi Outcast. The force is strong in Katarn, and he's no slouch with a lightsaber either, but after nearly falling to the dark side during the events of Jedi Knight, he's chosen to shun his Jedi ways in order to return to his life as a smuggler and mercenary for the Alliance. The game opens with Katarn and his trusty pilot, Jan Ors, on one such mission. They receive an urgent call from Mon Mothma telling the pair to investigate a distress call from the surface of a planet that was thought to be uninhabited. There, Katarn and Ors uncover a plot by the remnant Imperial forces to create an army of dark warriors who are technologically infused with the force.
In your quest to put a stop to this army of cybernetic soldiers, you'll fight your way through 24 single-player levels that span eight different environments. The single-player game is relatively long compared with the single-player modes in recent shooters, and it's also quite tough at the default difficulty. Some of the exotic locales you'll visit, like Yavin and the cloud city of Bespin, will be very familiar to Star Wars fans. Other levels are quite new, such as a mining facility on Artus and the innards of a massive capital ship called the Doom Giver. You'll also run into many new faces, as well as a handful of familiar ones who will undoubtedly please fans of the source material. Included in this notable cast of characters are Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian, the latter voiced by none other than Billy Dee Williams himself. The story moves along through the use of good-looking prerendered cinematics, as well as in-game cutscenes that tend to focus close in on characters' faces, most of whom make use of believable facial animation and lip syncing.
Of course, not all the characters you'll meet in Jedi Outcast will be friendly. You'll encounter swarms of angry rodians and other assorted bounty hunters. And storm troopers--lots of them, especially during the first five missions. In fact, save for a handful of interrogation droids and a pair of AT-STs, the only enemies you'll run into at first are storm troopers, and the repetitive task of gunning down these white-clad soldiers will quickly wear thin. Kyle doesn't start the game with any force powers, nor does he initially have his lightsaber. Instead he'll usually be stuck with the Imperials' own inaccurate assault rifle. Furthermore, the first levels of Jedi Outcast are practically brimming with key-hunt puzzles and platform-jumping challenges. While there's a third-person view to help you time such jumps better, you'll invariably get frustrated early on at having to do so much jumping around, all for the sake of opening a door. Your gun-toting enemies will also exhibit some strange behavior during these early stages.
If you can weather the first few of hours of Jedi Outcast, you'll note that it takes a sharp turn for the better. Suffice it to say that Kyle regains his force powers and lightsaber, the combination of which makes for some very satisfying and original action. There's nothing quite like walking into a room of storm troopers and sending them all crashing to the floor with a force-filled flick of your wrist, or fending off a cantina full of pistol-wielding drunks with nothing other than your lightsaber. The game departs from Jedi Knight's open-ended character advancement system. In Jedi Outcast, you'll earn your force powers linearly. Every time you complete a mission, you'll be imbued with a specific new set of force powers, and as you progress through the game, your existing force powers will increase in strength. Each of your force powers has three levels, and by the end of the game, you'll be doing backward flips onto catwalks, choking the life out of bad guys before tossing them off ledges, sending arcs of searing electricity from your fingertips, and generally feeling like a bona fide Jedi master.
- Player Reviews: 141
- Game Universe:
- Star Wars Episode I: Racer (GBC, N64, DC, MAC),
- Star Wars: Yoda Stories (PC, GBC),
- Star Wars: Demolition (DC, PS),
- Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC, GC, XBOX, MAC),
- Star Wars: Starfighter (PC, PS2),
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC, XBOX, MAC, IP),
- Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter (PS2, XBOX),
- Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (PS2, GC),
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (GC, PS2, XBOX),
- Star Wars Galaxies (PS2, XBOX)
- Number of Players: