Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
AMD Athlon 350 MHz
AMD Rage 128
In 1997 LucasArts finally made the wishes of many Star Wars fans come true – 3D action game where they could play as Jedi. Playing as Kyle Katarn, players could wield a lightsaber, encountered many different enemies and their actions decided the fate of hero between light and dark side. The expansion pack Mysteries of the Sith was also released, with popular character from SW Expanded Universe – Mara Jade as a main star. The sequel project was given to Raven Software, which, using Quake 3 engine, released Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast in 2002.
There exists an old problem of sequels – how to make your super-powerful character from endgame into somebody who can level up from weakness once more? The story of Mysteries of the Sith was used as an excuse for Kyle Katarn to give up his considerable Jedi powers and skills and to return to the live of simple mercenary. With that set, first levels play just like in standard FPS games, with few showcases of remote robot control and with confusing level structure. Thankfully for us, after an encounter with some new force using enemies, our hero decides to return to his Jedi ways and use a good old lightsaber.
Jedi methods of persuasion
The general story line isn't something extraordinary, it has fair share of cliches, but it is good at making the game varied. Over the course of campaign, the locations you'll visit include Nar Shadda, Jedi Academy on Yavin IV, Cloud City and inside of giant Imperial Star Destroyer. You are not able to choose what abilities to improve, your knowledge of the force and the proficiency with lightsaber change at a fixed points during story. The levels are designed accordingly, often requiring using your latest improvements to proceed.
The Jedi levels in single player are heavy on platforming and the use of high force jumps to get to locations. What may be annoying for many is the level design, often asking to find a button that unlocks the door at the other end of the level. Some other levels require usage of force powers to avoid detection by enemy.
The force gives you a lot of flexibility and advantages, while draining a power meter, so you'll have to time your usage of its abilities. General abilities will allow you to run faster, jump further, pull and push around the enemies and objects. Kyle doesn't think that force is dark or light, but the force user is the one responsible, thus he has varied abilities. From light side you can heal yourself (health doesn't regenerate passively) and confuse enemies, hiding your presence or even turning them against each other. The dark side gives you Vader-like choking ability and powerful force lightning that can kill several stromtroopers at higher levels.
When it comes to combat, the correct usage of your abilities and movement becomes important. With the lightsaber present, there is rarely an urge to use something else. When faced against blasters, you can use it to deflect their shots at first only in front of you, later all around you and then deflect them to a specific point. When you get close to common enemies a single strike will usually go through them and kill. It's a good idea to use the dismemberment cheat, as it means that any tough from lightsaber harms enemies (not sure what your trying to say here), making combat more satisfying, but you need to be careful on some levels, as it also enables friendly fire.
Blasters are no match for lightsaber
The appearance of many saber wielding enemies may not seem a logical plot move, but it leads to many nice battles. You have a varied arsenal of moves and combos to use in the battle. Blades of your foes are as deadly as yours, thus it takes just several wrong moves to be severely injured. Depending on how you approach those encounters, lightsaber fights may become quite choreographic, especially when happening in well known locations from films. It's these fights that are often the reason to replay the story several times or use console commands to create custom brawls.
Another place to have a lot of fun is multiplayer. While the game is old, there are still some players in MP, but mostly they are in deathmatch. Some more specific game modes are unfortunately rarely played. Jedi Academy multiplayer is much more populated, especially with mods.
The sounds in this game are very good, using the latest technology of its time. The musical background has many traditional Star Wars themes, which provide the right mood. Sound effects are nice to hear, with all the blaster shots whooping past you. Lightsaber sounds correspond to their movements and collisions during battles.
Quake 3 engine delivers decent graphics for 2002 game. While Jedi Knight II itself doesn't support many resolutions, the universal Quake 3 ini tweaks work with it. When you run at a native resolution, force AA and AF through drivers, you get very clean looking game that isn't ugly. The game runs on modern 64-bit systems without any problems with minor tweaks for better graphics.
Most enjoyable part
For the fans of lightsaber combat and Star Wars, Jedi Outcast is one of the last action games where such fights were done properly. The decent single player gave the feeling of a good Jedi adventure and the multiplayer allowed to put the skills of each other in lightsabers and force to a test. The Jedi Knight series has made the character of Kyle Katarn one of the most popular in Star Wars Expanded Universe, as well as getting internet title of "Chuck Norris of Star Wars". So, this game and the Jedi Knight series as a whole are the first recommendation for anyone who wants to play as a Jedi.