|Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast|
May 30, 2002 | Andy Largent
Raven Software has a long and successful history of taking whatever current id technology exists and wrapping a compelling game around it. They've done it with titles that delve into fantasy, the military, and even high-powered Hollywood licenses like Star Trek. Most recently, LucasArts set upon them the goal to make another in their excellent line of shooters based in the world of Star Wars. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is the result, and thanks to Aspyr Media, gamers can expect to see it coming to a Mac near you soon.
The game is actually the third in the series, which began with the still-beloved 2.5D shooter Dark Forces. Many a Mac gamer cut their gums on the title, and the community surrounding the game is still active today thanks to excellent editing tools from the likes of Brad Oliver and others. While the sequel never made it to the Mac due to LucasArts' decision in the 90's to drop Mac development, Jedi Knight II promises to wipe away any lingering bad memories.
For Star Wars fans waiting in line to see Episode II for the 14th time, let me come out and acknowledge I was a wee bit disappointed with the movie's performance. The dialog was achingly bad at times, and I found myself wondering how the heck Natalie Portman could fall for such a whiner (when there are plenty of perfectly good non-whining Jedi wannabes out here). That said, Jedi Knight II will give you better dialog, a much more tame story of love (or let's call it affection), and LOTS of fast and furious light saber action.
100% Jar Jar-FreeIn Jedi Knight II, you again take up the role of Kyle Katarn. The game is set years after the original set of Star Wars movies, though you might find a few familiar characters to talk with. In the beginning of the game, Kyle has abandoned the Jedi way, instead returning to his original life of smuggling with good friend Jan Ors. Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that he finds a cause worth picking up a light saber again.
Like past LucasArts shooters, Jedi Knight II is full of "puzzles." These usually fall somewhere in-between Quake's find-the-key, open-the-door routine and Myst's where's-that-damn-cheat-book stumpers. While mostly intuitive if you've been attentive to your surroundings, Jedi Knight II's puzzles will probably require you go back and recheck everything once or twice to make it through an area.
The puzzles themselves are balanced with a good blend of wholesome action. While the game starts you off with a lowly blaster, you'll quickly acquire new and better weaponry. This doesn't end with your trusty light saber either, as your budding Jedi powers will come to be relied upon as a vital second set of tools in your arsenal. We'll get more into these later.
No Blurry Holographics HereJedi Knight II uses the Quake 3 engine from id Software, which Raven already has a head start with thanks to their work on Star Trek: Elite Force and Soldier of Fortune 2. Their mastery of the technology is readily apparent both in terms of level design and character animation. Of course they have the advantage of the LucasArts license as weell, so the areas and characters are recognizable in their Star Wars heritage, yet still creatively used throughout the game. The maps are vast and often deep enough to induce vertigo if you're not careful.