|Publisher: Aspyr Media Genre: Action|
|Min OS X: 10.2.6 CPU: G3 @ 500 MHz RAM: 256 MB 4x CD-ROM Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit, 32 MB VRAM|
|Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy|
January 23, 2004 | John Hood
In January 1978 at the age of five my world was changed forever by an inaugural encounter with the cinematic realm. The film in question was Star Wars and, like fellow members of Generation X, I’ve followed the series in its multitude of media incarnations, from books to toys. However, video games remain the fondest forum since the early Atari coin-ops.
Jedi Academy is the second sequel to Jedi Knight and rapidly follows in the wake of Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. And, as such, is the third installment. The speed of the game’s port, to the Macintosh platform, is indicative of the timely talent of Aspyr Studio and the insatiable appetite of Mac gamers for original and licensed product. The most pertinent question on many gamers’ minds is: will it suffer from trilogy exhaustion?
GraphicsThe graphics are augmented by Raven Software’s code enhancements. The sumptuous visuals belie the Quake III game engine’s four-year age! Rain super heats as it falls onto a striking light saber and the character animation is suitably smooth and fluid even on modest hardware (this review was conducted on an 800 MHz iMac G4 with 512 MB RAM). Close combat has not witnessed such balletic battles since Darth Maul cartwheeled onto celluloid in The Phantom Menace.
SoundThe sound design is unquestionably of a pedigree deserving of the title’s roots. My review sessions were monitored using JBL Creature speakers, which rendered an involving and detailed three-dimensional sound stage replete with the familiar sounds of a galaxy far, far away. I lamented being unable to savor the delights of a 5.1 mix, however. Where would a Star Wars adventure be without the familiar underscores of John Williams’ familiar (if overused) leitmotifs? No longer used in their original cinematic context, here his orchestrations inform your journey to become a Jedi.
GameplayIn this outing Kyle Katarn (who made his first appearance in the legendary Dark Forces) is no longer the principle protagonist and acts as mentor alongside Luke Skywalker. Instead the game designers adroitly avoid any tenuous contrivances and invite you to create a new character from scratch albeit one who goes by the fixed name of Jaden Korr. The inevitable Sims (no it’s not Skywalker Family Ties) comparison cannot be ignored, but doesn’t detract from the short-lived novelty of deciding gender, species and light saber type (later stages allow for the wielding of two light sabers and Darth Maul’s infamous double-bladed light saber).
During the early stages of Jedi Academy, as you investigate the whereabouts of Luke's missing journal, the missions allow you to hone and enhance your Jedi powers before the saga starts gaining momentum. In between levels you get to choose between Light and/or Dark Force powers and either Choke or confuse your opponents with Mind Trick. The decisions you make delineate character, which is a neat twist and one that leads to a choice culminating in two possible endings.