Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II

The Star Wars game Dark Forces was highly successful upon its release, what with its solid first-person shooter gameplay, and it was only natural that LucasArts developed a sequel, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, continuing the adventures of Kyle Katarn as he becomes a Jedi Knight. Is the first sequel as good as the original?

As in the first game, Kyle can obtain several different weapons to use against Imperial agents, among them being a lightsaber, although given its limited melee range, most players will find the various firearms Kyle can also use to be vastly preferable. In between missions, the player might gain stars they can invest in various light and dark side Force powers, with some of these actually being necessary to advance through the missions, such as Force Jump. Since this reviewer purchased the game via Steam, a manual was unavailable, and the sequel has general poor in-game explanation of the game mechanics, with cheating often being necessary to advance through the game, although the game is actually somewhat enjoyable with cheat codes.

One supposed improvement over the original is the ability to save the game any time, alongside a quicksave, with death making the previous save load, although in instances where the player finds themselves stuck against enemies that can kill Kyle when he’s at low health, they’ll likely need to restart the mission if they want to attempt to beat the game without cheating. The lack of in-game explanation of most of the controls is also a mark off interaction, which is in the end average at best.

The best part of the sequel is undoubtedly its story, which adds nicely to the Star Wars mythos, although at times it’s not that great a reward for suffering through the game without cheating.

The aurals are also a step down from the original Dark Forces, with missions no longer having accompanying music, with the sound effects and enemy voices filling the silent vacuum, although the voice acting is largely solid.

The graphics are another big step backward, with ugly, blocky character models, although the scenery, while with pixelated texturing, looks okay; the high point of the visuals are the CG cutscenes that may play in between missions.

Finally, the game is short, taking somewhere from eight to fifteen hours to finish, with multiple difficulty settings and the ability to choose between light and dark side powers adding some replayability, although most players likely won’t want to replay the game.

All in all, Dark Forces II is a somewhat disappointing sequel that doesn’t quite live up to the original, what with its tortuous gameplay, although it’s actually quite enjoyable when using cheat codes. It does have a good story, although a good plot doesn’t compensate for unenjoyable gameplay.

The Good:
+Decent first-person shooter gameplay.
+Nice plot.
+Good voice acting.
+The CG cutscenes.

The Bad:
-Can be difficult without cheating.
-Easy to get lost in missions.
-No music during most of the game.
-Standard graphics are subpar.

The Bottom Line:
Sort of fun when cheating.

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

Overall: 6.5/10

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