Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

LucasArts’ Star Wars: Dark Forces commenced a whole series centered on first-person shooter gameplay, and in 2003 came the latest installment of the franchise, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, the first of the series without Kyle Katarn as a playable character. Is it a good swan song?

Jedi Academy has a mission-based structure like its predecessors, along with first-person shooter gameplay, although equipping the protagonist with his or her lightsaber will switch to a third-person perspective, with players also acquiring several Force powers throughout the game, some of which are necessary to advance through various areas, such as Force Jump and Force Push, and lightsaber duels are common. As with most of the other games, however, Jedi Academy can be difficult without cheating, even on the easiest difficulty, though the cheat codes actually make it slightly enjoyable.

Control doesn’t fare any better, with Jedi Academy like most of its predecessors missing in-game maps (except for one mission), ironic considering the first few entries had this useful feature, with its absence consequentially making it easy to lose oneself within missions. The save and checkpoint systems are decent, although some players might save themselves in a hole on occasion and be unable to advance without cheating.

The story adds well to the Star Wars mythos, as has been the case with Jedi Academy’s predecessors, though the poor direction in dungeons is a mark off the story like before, given the need of plots to have decent direction. The story can also vary depending upon whether the player chooses light or dark side powers in between missions when available, a mark in the plot’s favor.

The music and voice acting are decent, with dungeons having a little more music than previous installments, especially during combat, and the themes fitting the Star Wars environs well, although there are still parts that rely on ambience.

The graphics are very good for a game released in 2003, with realistic character models and environments, although some environs have blurry pixelated textures at times.

Finally, the game is fairly short like the others, about ten hours long, although getting lost might boost playing time beyond that number.

In conclusion, Jedi Academy isn’t exactly the swan song series enthusiasts are looking for, given its needlessly difficult gameplay, although it does have some things going for it such as its sound and graphics, not to mention branching storyline. While it might be a decent deal to purchase the entire series for a low price on Steam, the games aren’t always fun without cheating, and there are better Star Wars games out there like the Knights of the Old Republic titles; even the films are more enjoyable.

The Good:
+Decent variety in gameplay.
+Good story with potential variations.
+Nice music and graphics.

The Bad:
-Can be hard without cheating.
-Easy to get lost in missions.
-Some areas with no music.

The Bottom Line:
Not a great swan song, but has plenty going for it.

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

Overall: 7.5/10

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