STAFF REVIEW of Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast (Xbox)

Wednesday, January 29, 2003.
by kitt

Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast Box art In a galaxy far, far away, eight years after Return of the Jedi, you assume the role of former Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn, a character with an impressive resume but a shaded past. He is a loner who was once a member of the Imperial Army (the bad guys) but left after he learned of their true intentions. In Jedi Outcast Kyle is working along side the New Republic (the good guys) on reconnaissance missions with his partner and pilot Jan Ors to battle the Imperial remnant (the bad guys who just won?t go away) and renegade Jedi, Desann. This game is very good at immersing you in the entire Star Wars experience including the classic sound track, environments, sound effects and characters such as old favourites Lando Calrissian and Luke Skywalker. The one thing that really stood out in my mind after playing this game is that this is not your typical mission based game, which you end up completing 2 days into the purchase or rental. This game offers something much more; longevity and challenge. You won?t be following any beaten paths from objective to objective. Instead this is a game where you are dropped in the middle of an expansive Star Wars universe with only your wits, and a keen sense of the surroundings to succeed. To put it bluntly, this game takes some brains. This is an aspect of the game I truly appreciate and one which adds an element of reality not seen in many mission-based games. Too many games of this genre hold your hand throughout the entire mission. In Jedi Outcast you find yourself in a variety of interesting situations including operating a remote controlled droid into dangerous territory, taking hostages and crashing through glass ceilings. To sum up this game, a compelling single player storyline, great multiplayer features that add replay value, mediocre graphics and good sound. A buy for any true Star Wars fan or a great rental if you?re up to the challenge.

In Jedi Outcast you have to overcome obstacles and solve mind-boggling dilemmas in order to reach your mission goals. You must constantly be looking for clues and elements of the environment that arouse suspicion, things like switches, computer consoles, vents etc. At times you do get the feeling you are running in circles or you hit a dead-end, but whatever you do don?t give into the dark side of the strategy guide or Internet for the answer as it will greatly diminish the sense of accomplishment once you have figured it out. What you do have at your disposal is the ability to save your progress anywhere and anytime in the game, which comes in handy. Also at your disposal is a wide variety of weapons and explosives including the E-11 Blaster, Wookiee Bowcaster (Chewies favourite) and many more. What Jedi game is complete without of course the lightsaber, which is not available to you for the first few levels, but is definitely worth the wait and work to acquire it. The game playing view is unique in that it switches from a first-person shooter to a third-person view when you decide to use the lightsaber. The switch between views is a smooth transition, but when engaged in a lightsaber battle in the third person view it is sometimes easy to loose your opponent, but this could be overcome with practice. Kyle also has the power of the Force in his arsenal, which is also acquired after a few levels. This includes Force Speed, Choke, Lighting, Jedi Mind Trick, and many more. The button configuration is excellent with the feature to customize the black and white buttons for your favourite weapon, force or inventory item for easy execution. Cycling through items is done with the left thumb pad, which is easy to do, but time consuming when engaged in battle. This game also features various degrees of difficulty from Padawan to the locked level of Jedi Master. In Multiplayer mode, game options include a variety of free for all death matches, duels and teams based games such as capture the flag.

I have to admit this game did not immediately impress me when it came to visuals when I know the Xbox is capable of so much more. The cutscenes are very grainy looking and the characters in the scenes are not at all believable, but the environments look stunning. This is the complete opposite when it comes to the actual game. The character models look good and movement is quit realistic, enemies duck, dive and die in a variety of spins and falls, but I would suggest an improvement in the frame rate of the game. The environments on the other hand are flat and square looking, very panel-like, but at the same time the movies were similar. They did a good job of re-creating the cold look and feel of Imperial buildings with all the blinking buttons and old school computers you can handle. Detail in some environments could also be improved such as the city environments, which are very empty looking.

Phazers, tazers, lazers and the hum of lightsabers, you name it, this game has it. The sound effects are your typical Star Wars fare and very well done. This is not to mean that the sound in the game did not have any faults. Certain background sound effects retain their volume even if you move further away from the source of the sound, which is not very realistic and annoying at times. The sound track is excellent including all the classics from the movie such as the Star Wars theme song. The game can recognize certain situations and will adjust the music accordingly, for example if you find yourself in the middle of an ambush the music will pick up to build on the excitement of the situation. Voice is also very well executed in the game and crystal clear. Kyle can interact with certain characters in the game to produce dialogue some of which is alien gibberish (subtitles included).

On my quest to save the Universe, the idea of being killed by an elevator door does not really appeal to me. I think I would prefer a more noble death. When on elevators in first person perspective it is sometimes difficult to determine if you are centered on the elevator platform correctly, which you sometimes find out you are not when you are crushed and killed between the platform and door. I would expect maybe a decrease in health before being killed. I can?t tell you how many times I had to restart because of this. I would also suggest an improvement in graphics to match the Xbox?s capabilities and an improvement in the frame rate of the game. Xbox live support would also be a bonus in multiplayer mode.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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