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Star Wars Games For The Macintosh
December 2, 2004 | IMG Staff
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Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
(aka Dark Forces IV: Jedi Knight III: Jedi Academy)

Jedi Outcast finally ended the Kyle Katarn saga, but LucasArts decided that there was still room for yet another sequel. Jedi Academy was released one year after Jedi Outcast. Basically, its more of the same.

This time, you get to design your own character - name, gender, race, appearance - as well as your lightsaber. These choices are only superficial, and don't effect the game play as they do in Knights of the Old Republic.

You character, Jaden, is a gifted Padawan. As part of your training, you'll undertake a series of missions for the Jedi Academy. You'll get to visit such great places as Korribian, Hoth and Tantoinee, as well as the usual capital ships. Unlike the missions in Jedi Outcast, these missions are performed in a non-linear fashions. You pass through tiers which advance your powers and require you to complete at least four of five possible missions. At least one of these missions will revolve around investigating the Cult of Ragnos, yet another Sith plot designed to make your character fight heaps of dark Jedi. Hey, I'm not complaining. Gameplay is still very fast and action packed and there are less puzzles than in Jedi Outcast. Oh, and you star with a lightsaber! Yum. Instant Gratification.

Jedi Academy enhances two things from Jedi Outcast: lightsaber battles and multiplayer. You have a whole range of acrobatic moves you can perform, such as butterfly attacks, cartwheels, impales, saber twirls. These moves have their own counterattacks, and make saber combat a lot more interesting - far less hack and slash. You can always pause the game and look up the moves in your "PDA". You'll also eventually have the choice of using a saberstaff, fighting dual saber style or expanding your single staff style to be more flexible. Each technique has its own attack styles. While the different saber options give the single player more variety, they're really about making multiplayer even better. They provide players with a whole range of new tactical options to use in combat. There are new, more balanced maps in Jedi Academy, and a new game type - Siege.

As is to be expected, the sound and music is exceptional, and the voice acting is solid, if unspectacular. The environments are quite beautiful, but very processor intensive - far more than Jedi Outcast. As a single player experience, Jedi Academy is somewhat less than Jedi Outcast. Sure, some of the individual levels are great, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. It just lacks the great narrative drive of Jedi Outcast, and the Academy setting makes it feel like Star Wars 90210 (and rumors are that Jedi Academy is the Star Wars live action series we'll be getting post-Episode Three).

If you haven't played any of the Dark Forces series, then start with Jedi Outcast and move onto Jedi Academy. They're both very solid games, and are particularly enjoyable to Star Wars fans... and hey, with Revenge of the Sith right around the corner, who isn't a Star Wars fan?

MOD Wars
But what if you want something new - because you've already played Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy to death?

Star Wars: Battlefront is already out on Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC. Its basically Battlefield 1942 set in the Star Wars universe. If you can't wait to see if it will be ported, then you can try the Galactic Conquest mod for Battlefield 1942. The mod lacks a degree of polish and isn't that popular online but its still nicely done - and hey, its free if you already own Battlefield 1942. The Mac version is hosted at www.macfpsgames.com. Champions.

If you want some original Dark Forces action, but can't find a place to purchase an old copy, then check out the Dark Forces total conversion being made for>Jedi Academy at darkforces.jediknight.net. They're reconstructing all the levels and missions of the original Dark Forces for Jedi Academy. I had bad luck trying to download the mod, but apparently it works on the Mac with minimal conversion... We shall see.

Star Wars gaming crosses nearly every gaming genre, and today's Star Wars games on the Macintosh are as varied as they come.



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