Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, GC
Publisher
LucasArts
Developer
Vicarious Visions
Genre
FPS/Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Feels and sounds like Star Wars
• Multiplayer adds to game
• Force powers add depth to "run and gun" gameplay

The Bad

• Enemy A.I. can be mediocre
• Cutscenes look low-res

 
Grade
B+

In Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, you play as Kyle Katarn, a mercenary under the hire of Mon Mothma. Taking place some years after Return of the Jedi, Kyle and his partner, Jan Ors, are sent to investigate a base for the Remnant forces of the Empire, who are apparently experimenting on creating crystals that can give even normal people the ability to use the Force. Despite his distaste for the Force, the money offered to investigate this potential problem is enough to get Kyle and Jan on the job. After a point early in the story, Kyle must regain his ability to use the Force to complete his mission.

The world of Jedi Outcast is a dead ringer for the post-Return of the Jedi universe. Remnant bases hold the level design of the movies and even look draw directly from the Death Star and Star Destroyer sets. Fans of the movies will find a number of familiar architectures in the levels and even some other famous places, like Yavin and Bespin. Along with these are some new places to visit, like Nar Shaddaa and the Artus Mines. While in the corridors and hangar bays, the locations feel accurate and part of a living world, some of the more public areas feel less lived-in. The cantina in Nar Shaddaa feels less like a cantina full of customers and more like a Doom-style gunfight waiting to happen. Enemies are taken directly from the Star Wars universe and include Stormtroopers, droids, and a number of alien races familiar to fans. You'll be pleased with the quality of detail in each level, even if there are a few rough edges here and there. For the most part, character models look pretty good. You may grow tied of killing the same handful of enemy types over and over in each stage, but at least the enemies look close to their movie counterparts.

At its heart, Jedi Outcast is your standard first person shooter set in a Star Wars universe. You'll be given a series of objectives, but along the way, you'll need to throw switches or find keys to unlock doors along your path. Early on, you'll have a variety of weapons, including Thermal Detonators, blasters and even a Bowcaster to shoot your way through legions of the Empire's best troopers. Once your get your lightsabre, equipping it will switch you into 3rd person mode, where you can hack and slash your enemies. Also, you'll gain the ability to use Jedi powers, which add greatly to the depth of the game as they are necessary to complete environmental puzzles and essential to survive battles with enemy troops later in the game. From time to time, there are some platforming elements and you'll be given a few puzzles to figure out, but neither are too complicated and are only thrown in to break up the "run and gun" aspect of the game.

The multiplayer mode, known as Jedi Arena, gives players the ability to fight it out with friends. There are a variety of modes, including Free For All, Capture the Flag, Duel, Holocron FFA (you have to grab Force Powers as power-ups), Jedi Master (kills don't count for points until the lightsabre has been picked up) and Team FFA. Players are given a handful of stages to fight it out, including Bespin, the Death Star and a Star Destroyer. Being able to add computer-controlled bots is a wonderful addition to the multiplayer that allows for even single players to enjoy the multiplayer aspect of the game. On top of that, there are a lot of character models to use in the arena and even more to unlock.

Audio-wise, Jedi Outcast draws from the same pool as the rest of the Star Wars themed games. The soundtrack is composed of themes from the original trilogy, especially the darker themes from Empire Strikes Back. The voice acting is well done, but won't amaze you by any especially dramatic portrayals. Sound effects and verbal bits during the game really help complete the Star Wars feel to the title.

I would be remiss not to mention a few things that could have used some polish. The enemy AI is never really all that great. Most of the time, you'll be able to mow them down where they stand and some times, they won't even go for cover while you pick them off from afar. Also, the jump mechanics seem to be less than stellar. Considering how much time you may be spending in the platforming parts of the game, most will find the jumping around to be frustrating at best. And, on top of that, the cutscenes tend to look suspiciously low-resolution in comparison to the gameplay. Luckily, the scenes don't take up a noticeable part of the game.

Fans of Star Wars will be pleased with Jedi Outcast as it provides good FPS action set in the Star Wars universe. While maybe not the best game in the genre, Jedi Outcast is better than a lot of the games and is a far cry better than most of the Star Wars titles that have come out in recent years. Fans should seriously look into this title.

- - Kinderfeld

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