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Thursday, May 30, 2002

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Coming to Mac
2:21 PM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

Aspyr Media announced today that they will be bringing Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast to the Macintosh. Developed by Raven Software for LucasArts, this third game in the series that began with the venerable Dark Forces (the second game, Jedi Knight, was never released for the Mac) is being converted by Westlake Interactive's Brad Oliver.

Here's a description of the game along with preliminary system requirements from Aspyr's press release:

Players assume the role of Kyle Katarn, ex-Jedi Knight turned mercenary, as they employ a unique mix of weapons, Force powers, and [their] lightsabers in both single- and multiplayer modes.

Several years have passed since Kyle avenged his father's death and saved the Valley of the Jedi from Jerec and his band of Dark Jedi. Allowing his Force powers to languish for fear of falling to the Dark side, Kyle set aside his lightsaber, vowing never to use it again. But when a new and menacing threat to the galaxy emerges, Kyle knows he must reclaim his past in order to save his future.

Preliminary system requirements are:

  • Mac OS 9.0 or later
  • Mac OS X compatible
  • G3 processor at 400 MHz or faster
  • 128 MB of RAM
  • 4X CD-ROM (16X recommended)
  • Hard drive, with 665 MB minimum free space
  • Hardware 3D acceleration required

(These are extremely early system requirements and subject to change).

IMG has posted a first look at the game by our own Andy Largent with more detailed information. Here's a brief excerpt to whet your appetite:
The game shifts between first and third person views depending on your current weapon, and Jedi Knight II is one of the first times where the technique has been pulled off successfully. Of course the Quake 3 engine can do first person shooters, so using the guns and grenades is natural for any FPS fan. The third person view is for light saber fighting, and this is where the game's animation starts to shine.

As Kyle develops his Jedi skills again, the moves for the light saber fights get truly impressive. It's great fun to watch him gracefully roll forward into a stabbing motion or push sideways off of a wall in an extraordinary side flip to get around an enemy.

The light saber fights themselves are visual splendor, with great lighting as the powerful weapons collide. Particles and light flares are used well, and even the sabers swinging through the air show a great aura. For fun, the sabers will leave temporary marks on surfaces as they 'burn' through them, though for the most part this isn't used in the gameplay itself.

For more information, check out the full text of our preview, which includes a gallery of screen shots, as well as the Aspyr and LucasArts web pages for Jedi Knight II.

IMG First Look: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
LucasArts: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Raven Software
Buy Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

Apple Exposes E3
8:08 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

Apple's gaming site has posted an interesting new wrap-up of the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo. While not too long, the piece is packed with tidbits and hints of future goodies for Mac gamers. Included in the article are Mac-related games like Lineage: The Blood Pledge, Neverwinter Nights, Doom III, and more.

Of course Mac OS X is featured, and they've gotten some very nice quotes from folks like Wolfpack's Robert Marsa about the OS and his massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, Shadowbane:

Mac OS X is a dream for programming. The patch client interface took us about 20 minutes to do on the Mac side, a tenth of the two days we spent building the same thing on the PC.
This is great news for Mac gamers looking forward to Shadowbane.

There may be more in store for Blizzard fans as well, as a company employee reveals a fifth race might be introduced into WarCraft III at some point:

Just down the hall, Blizzard’s WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos has gamers drooling and little on-screen minions throwing out classic one-liners. "Ask anyone at Blizzard," one developer from the booth says, "and they’ll tell you that in the coming months, we'll be introducing a new race into the WarCraft universe that is so cool people will be buying the game just to play them."
According to the article, Mac Lineage is doing well for NCsoft, and the free Update 12 coming later this year should bring a host of graphical improvements to the title. Head over and read the full piece for more on these titles, as well as links to E3 coverage from the Mac gaming press, and be sure to have a look through Apple's photo gallery from the show floor.

Apple Looks at E3 2002
Apple E3 Photo Gallery
E3 2002

Unreal II Impressions
7:51 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Though news has been flying around the net on the upcoming frag-fest Unreal Tournament 2003, its single-player cousin, Unreal II: The Awakening, has been hot on its heels in terms of media coverage and overall impressiveness. Shown off at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo, many gaming sites have posted impressions of this sequel to the original Unreal, remarking on its graphic prowess and variety of features.

Though players waiting for this title have undoubtedly viewed plenty of screenshots showing off the power of Unreal II's graphic engine, GameSpy notes the actual progression from the older engine used for the original Unreal Tournament:

Read any preview of the upcoming Unreal games and you're likely to see lots of drooling over the game's new graphics, and with good reason. Not only are the levels quite colorful and vibrant, but they're also far more detailed than the previous Unreal games — Unreal II will reportedly push 100X the number of polygons as Unreal Tournament. As we were told, just one tree in Unreal 2 could have more polygons than an entire SCENE in UT.
GameSpy also notes that the music in Unreal II will be dynamic, adjusting itself on the fly to occurrences within the game itself.

To facilitate the story-driven aspect of Unreal II, the available weapons will be quite varied, allowing for greater versatility in combat. GameSpot makes particular note of the modular grenade launcher:

Even at this early point in the game, you have a good selection of human weapons, including a shotgun, a sniper rifle, an assault rifle, and a rocket launcher. The weapon models are all incredibly beefy, much larger than what an unarmored soldier would be able to carry. The grenade launcher is modular, with six different types of grenades — including EMP, frag, smoke, toxic, and stasis — and each type is more appropriate than the others in particular situations.
IGN PC also notes the induction of a huge number of alien races into the game, meaning that the player will be required to come up with numerous strategies as gameplay progresses:
When I asked a member of the design team how many different types of enemies will be present in the game he shrugged, implying that the number was too high to recall offhand. Just think of it this way, the there are four different factions of marine enemies, each with light, medium and heavy variations. And that's just the human race! The meat and potatoes of Unreal's opposition lies in its dynamic alien races. Mind you these are not just your typical, run of the mill alien races either. Each one has truly inventive strengths, weaknesses and forms of attacks. For instance one mechanical race utilizes shielded drones to raise their fallen soldiers from the dead. You must take out the drones as well of the soldiers, unless you want to take on a perpetually regenerating alien army. In another scenario, while exploring a huge creature's insides, you'll have to take on its immune system.
Readers interested in more impressions on this upcoming first-person shooter are encouraged to check out any of the aforementioned previews. There's no word yet of a Mac conversion, but rest assured IMG is keeping its ear to the ground for any developments.

Epic Games
GameSpot: Unreal II Impressions
GameSpy: Unreal II: The Awakening
IGN PC: Unreal II

Neverwinter Nights Hands-on; New Movies
7:50 AM | Andy Largent | Comment on this story

One of the big players at E3 this year was BioWare, who showed off their upcoming 3D role-playing game, Neverwinter Nights. This much-anticipated title is set to be published later in the year by Infogrames under their Atari label, and while no Mac publisher has yet been named, it would not be suprising were MacSoft (another Infogrames company) to get the nod.

New previews of the title talk about getting hands on the game on the E3 show floor, including two posted recently at GameSpot and Games Domain. While both are brief, they do give a feel for how this Advanced Dungeons & Dragons-based title will play. Here's a clip from GameSpot:

The few undead creatures that weren't destroyed by our character's powerful 18th-level cleric's turn-undead ability would turn and shamble away in fear, and get cut down easily. New monsters were spawned in quickly and easily by the dungeon master using a simple pull-down menu to choose the monsters, and a drag-and-drop mouse command to put them into the game. Neverwinter Nights will ship with a huge number of different and familiar Dungeons & Dragons monsters, though dungeon masters will be able to create their own custom creatures to make them tougher, richer, injured, hostile, or friendly.
The large sticking point for Mac users is the current lack of announced plans to port the dungeon master tools to the platform. A ray of hope was shined during The Gamesome Mac radio show last week when MacSoft's Al Schilling noted that if his company did publish the title for the Mac, they would do everything in their power to try and port the tools as well. If BioWare makes good on their promise to keep the Mac client up to date with the PC and Linux versions, it may be that whichever Mac publisher picks up the game would then be able to focus their time and resources on porting the tool set. Of course nothing is certain, and until a publisher is announced, this is only speculation.

For more on the game, also have a look at recent movies posted at Neverwinter Vault. They have a number of video camera movies from E3 posted in various formats, as well as small and large official MPEG trailers from BioWare.

IMG Preview: Neverwinter Nights
Neverwinter Nights
Games Domain: Neverwinter Nights Preview
GameSpot: Neverwinter Nights hands-on multiplayer impressions
Neverwinter Vault: Movie Listings
Buy Neverwinter Nights

Click to enlarge
Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory Revealed
7:49 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

The Return to Castle Wolfenstein web site hosted by Activision recently posted a bit of news revealing the name of the planned expansion pack for the popular first-person shooter. Titled Enemy Territory, the expansion adds new characters, levels, and missions for both the single-player and multiplayer modes of Return to Castle Wolfenstein. While there is no word yet on a Mac port of the add-on, Wolfenstein fans will surely be petitioning Aspyr to publish the title.

As reported earlier, the Engineer class will be receiving some upgrades and new abilities to make it even more useful. A new class, named Covert Ops, is also being added and will have the ability to steal enemy uniforms in order to infiltrate enemy territory.

In addition, bot support is also being added for those that wish to play multiplayer games without the hassle of logging online. GameSpy's recent preview of Enemy Territory remarks on bot behavior:

We watched the bots in action on the Beach map, and they certainly seemed to know where they were going. The engineer would set the charge at the sea wall, while the rest of the team clustered around. Once the wall blew, they'd split up and take separate routes, but all heading for the document room, and then the radio room. The bots will follow your orders to an extent — if you start doing something that doesn't mesh with the map objectives, they may still head off on their own. In a touch of humor, the bots shoot each other during the warmup mode... something that most human players tend to do before each match. Tools are also being developed so map makers can add support for their own maps, which should be released along with the expansion pack.
Other enhancements include an automap feature which displays teammates and objectives as well as a stats manager for players that like to check their effectiveness in gameplay. Stay tuned to IMG for any word on the title being ported to the Mac.

IMG Review: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Activision: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
GameSpy: Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Buy Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 29, 2002

IMG Pre-Orders for Stronghold Ship Thursday12:45 PM
IMG Reviews X-Plane 611:42 AM
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds Goes Gold9:37 AM
Apple Posts E3 Gallery9:35 AM
ARQuake Brings Death Knights Into the Real World9:34 AM
Aspyr Posts Medal of Honor Screens8:01 AM
Mac Kick Off 2002 Going FC This Week7:53 AM
Civilization III: Play the World Details7:35 AM
More Unreal Tournament 2003 Details7:35 AM
Shadowbane Beta Widens7:35 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 29, 2002 on one page

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