Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

LucasArt’s foray into the first-person shooter genre proved to be a hit with Dark Forces, so it was only natural that they followed it with several sequels, among them being Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. Its predecessors were most certainly not without their flaws, and while this particular installment does have its shortcomings, it does have a few things going for it.

The sequel largely retains its predecessor’s mechanisms, with protagonist Kyle Katarn having an arsenal of firearms from which to choose in addition to his lightsaber and Force abilities, some of which are necessary to advance through the game’s various levels. The general gameplay mechanics are okay, although the game is still difficult even on the easiest setting, and players might find themselves using cheat codes to advance.

The controls don’t fare any better, with perhaps the greatest step backwards from Jedi Outcast’s predecessors being the lack of in-game maps, and the ease of losing oneself within the massive stages. The ability to save anytime is convenient, however, with some occasional checkpoints within missions so that the player doesn’t have to repeat too much if they forget to save and die. Then again, sometimes cheat codes, such as one allowing Kyle to pass through walls and float anywhere, might be necessary to advance if players get lost, and in the end, interaction is average at best.

The story is still a strong suit for the game, contributing nicely to the Star Wars mythos involving Jedi trainee Kyle Katarn, with some familiar faces such as Lando and Leia. The only real mark off is the poor direction in missions.

The aurals are decent, with solid voice acting and even some music in missions, particularly when the player is fighting enemies, although there are still plenty of silent areas outside combat.

One area that sees improvement, is the graphics, which contain more polish than the previous fully-three-dimensional games in the Dark Forces / Jedi Knight franchise, with the character models in particular looking more realistic and having more polygons, although some environments still contain a deal of pixelated textures.

Finally, since the player can’t use cheat codes to zip through stages, beating the game takes somewhere from ten to fifteen hours, with the multiple difficulty levels adding some replay value.

In conclusion, Jedi Outcast is an okay sequel that still fails to improve the gameplay and be on par with the original Dark Forces, although there are some improvements with regards to the aurals and voice acting. It still doesn’t hold up to the very first game, but is by no means a bad game.

The Good:
+Decent story.
+Nice graphics.
+Good music and voice acting.

The Bad:
-Difficult without cheating.
-No automaps.
-Guide may be necessary at times.

The Bottom Line:
One step forward, one step backward.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PC
Game Mechanics: 6/10
Controls: 5/10
Story: 8/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Difficulty: Adjustable, Still Hard
Playing Time: 10-15 Hours

Overall: 7.5/10

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