A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… [cue Star Wars music]. Wow, how many times have you relived that moment. Either watching the film or playing some of the countless adaptations in gaming. With two other Star Wars titles already on the Mac App Store from Aspyr Media, Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast is the 3rd game in Aspyr’s run in Star Wars titles and takes yet another spin on the franchise. With the previous games being an RPG and RTS, Jedi Outcast aims for the First Person Shooter market and fills it with a rough, yet fun game that will give Star Wars fans an original plot to follow and new characters to love as well as some great combat mechanics currently unparalleled on the Mac App Store today.
Jedi Knight 2 follows on from Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, but fortunately you don’t need to have played the first to enjoy and understand this one. You play as Kyle Katarn, an ex-Jedi turned mercenary who is forced to reclaim his past to save the galaxy from its latest threat. From there you must travel between many different environments, fighting enemies and completing objectives. The plot starts out well, but tapers off nearer its conclusion. Its twists are extremely predictable the conclusion is anti-climatic. There’s no sense of scale of the disaster that hovers over the galaxy and this drains the effect of the game. You certainly won’t be getting a cinematic experience with this title.
Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast Gameplay
What places Jedi Outcast outside of the rest of the FPS crowd though is the lightsabers. The first few levels have you running around environments lightsaber-less and it shows. Your lightsaber takes a little bit to get used to, but when you do, you slowly learn all its little perks that make it a real asset. Plus, it’s so much more ‘Star Wars-like’ when you have a lightsaber in your hand rather than a typical gun.
Undoubtedly, nothing compares to Jedi Knight 2 when it comes to Jedi vs Jedi combat. With your opponent being equal in armament rather than some dumb trooper, jumping and locking in combat is a buzz unlike no other. And you feel much more vulnerable in these battles. One well timed strike from either side can result in death and as a result conquering them can be challenging to say the least. Your force powers have much less effect, if any, and much more thought is required to win against your own kind.
Using the force in Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2 is surprisingly well balanced and adds a whole new layer on top of the gameplay. After going through your training and learning each new force, you then have the freedom to use them whenever you like in combat. However, every time you use the force or jump extra high, you drain your force meter meaning steadied and careful use of this powerful tool is required. You gain new force powers and upgrade existing ones every level. This really places emphasis on each power in turn and keeps the gameplay fresh. Such upgrades include being able to pull enemy weapons as well as themselves leaving them defenceless when they get back up, to healing yourself quicker and more efficiently. Using them in combat is key if you plan to survive through the trooper hordes.
The ‘puzzles’ in Jedi Knight 2 don’t require you to think exactly, they require you to look. It can be really easy to miss a control panel or destructible grate as you explore each level and not knowing where you went wrong can get really frustrating. Jedi Knight 2 is non-linear meaning you will have to track back on some levels. This makes finding the direction you are meant to be heading even harder, especially with no good objective system or waypoint arrow. Spending half the time wondering where the hell you are meant to go feels like unnecessary filler to try and bulk out the game where what you really want to be doing is having awesome lightsaber fights and dicing stormtroopers.
But despite the puzzle elements not being up to scratch, the platforming sections are another thing. Used to separate combat sequences, the Jedi’s extraordinary high jumps makes platforming fun and challenging. Being able to jump from one ledge to another other with ease gives you more options in terms of approaching enemies and going about a level depending on your attitude and skill set.
Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast was released in 2002 for PC and the graphics are one thing that suffers because of this. Using the old Quake III engine, the graphics are dated, no two ways about it. Despite this, it doesn’t affect the gameplay as much as I thought it would. It might be because I don’t play top-spec console titles daily, but I can live with the low-res textures and horrible face animations. Maybe if you’re used to playing Mass Effect 2 or LA Noire you may be more bothered by the visuals so check out the gameplay video below to see what you think.
Once you have finished the lengthy campaign, there is a whole load more content to enjoy with Multiplayer. There are a reasonable number of people online, so finding a game is easy. However, the multiplayer gameplay itself is a little lacking. Being way more action focussed than the campaign, I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed at the mindless nature of each round. There are a few different game modes which broaden strategical appeal but for some reason, there are hardly any servers that run them. Free for All and Team FFA seem to be most popular unfortunately and whilst fun, I didn’t feel the sense of satisfaction I felt with the campaign.
Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast stays true to the franchise and the real-time lightsaber combat puts you in the shoes of a Jedi and communicates that feeling of power and control well, in addition to the vulnerability of fighting another Jedi. It can feel a bit rough around the edges at times, and the moments of confusion where you don’t know what to do can hamper the experience, but not enough to make it unplayable or unenjoyable. Jedi Knight 2 is a varied and very fun experience that gives FPS fans a fresh look on the genre and might just make you think that powerful guns and spamming frags aren’t all that amazing when compared to being a Jedi Knight.
Publisher: Aspyr Media Inc.
Price: $9.99 (£9.99)
Description: An Epic FPS Star Wars Adaptation
Pros: Frantic and strategic lightsaber combat, good platforming, force powers, multiplayer.
Cons: Frustrating ‘puzzles’, predictable story.