reviews\ Apr 7, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast - PC - Review

After defeating Jerec in the original Jedi Knight or Dark Forces 2 whichever you prefer, Kyle Katarn found himself dangerously close to the dark side of the force. So he gave his lightsaber to Luke Skywalker and vowed never to use his force powers again. Vows are made to be broken though aren't they? Jedi Outcast is all about the force. If you can master it this game will blow every other title into oblivion faster than the Death Star's prime weapon.

Kyle and his partner Jan are hired by Mon Mothma to do a little dirty work. The Remnant forces have been doing experiments that threaten the very existence of the New Republic. The worst possible events take place as they so often do in these situations. Now I can't tell you what happens, because that will ruin the story. Let's just say Kyle gets extremely angry and must call upon the force to solve or perhaps claim his revenge.

Jedi Outcast delivers in droves. It uses the Quake 3 engine, which has been tweaked to near perfection. I have never seen the Star Wars universe recreated with such attention to detail. This game is the closest thing we have to actually living inside the film. Each character model is so well done and I even found the cut scenes interesting. Usually in a movie scene we just get a bunch of static characters pacing and talking. In Jedi Outcast we see subtle references and attitude changes especially in Kyle. This makes the story and characters more believable, and much more enjoyable.

The sounds within the game put you right into Kyle's shoes. Once you hear the familiar sound of your saber you will fall in love. John Williams' music once again consumes every ounce of emotion whether you are sneaking around trying to evade your enemies or if it's full pitched battle. The voice talent is top notch including an appearance from Billy who reprises his role as that dashing gambler Lando Calrissian.

You can play in a first person perspective, but once the sabers start clashing it becomes a third person affair. I prefer the third person view anyway because it allows greater manipulation and a better line of sight. The beginning of the game pits you against hordes of Imperial forces. Shooting it out with squads of storm troopers is rewarding enough as the AI is tight and intelligent and at times quite difficult. They run around and try to outflank you. In fact there is no force or lightsaber to be found in the first several levels, but you hardly notice this because it is so jam-packed with action. There was one scene where I was trying to blow up a pair of AT-ST's while overhead X-Wing fighters were having it out with a squadron of TIE fighters. Ion cannons were erupting with loud cracking laser blasts and Storm troopers were every where.

There are over twenty levels to battle through and each one is very long and very hard. Control is standard to FPS vets at the start, but as soon as the force arrives the whole game changes. It is just like the movies. There is force speed, and jump, which are so vital to some of the puzzles. The ability to pull levers and objects from a distance or push an enemy off a cliff. You can use the mind trick to sneak around unsuspecting troopers or fling your saber at oncoming Rodians. The force and how you are able to manipulate it through a hot key changes the game from a standard well done FPS to a genre bending classic. You need these powers to have any hope of finding success.

As I said the levels are long and hard. The solutions are frustrating at times, but I must say they are all solvable. Many times I felt like kicking myself in the head because I walked by the solution for an hour. It was right in front of me the whole time. The storyline is gripping the force powers astounding, but the multiplay will keep this title alive for a long time. There are new maps for online play and exclusive force powers that are not available in the single player campaign. Standard multiplay is here, but different contests such as capture the ysalamiri and individual lightsaber duels allow a different experience all together. There is also a great community with downloads, boards, and strategy at  

Install: Easy
I was drooling in anticipation as the install bar increased and the beautiful slide show flashed the delight that was to follow.

Gameplay: 10
The ability of the force and the lightsaber provide such diverse gameplay and control that Jedi Outcast snaps the FPS genre into an incredible experience of gaming goodness.

Graphics: 9.5 
The Star Wars Universe is represented with startling near perfection to the movies we all know and love so much.

Sound: 10
The music just never gets old. The crackling slash of sabers just never gets tired. When it was 12 AM I was forced to use headphones and I got sucked right into the gaming universe. Everything else was gone except the force. When I looked at the clock again it was time to get up for work.

Difficulty: 9
Just about every single puzzle is difficult to solve, but not impossible. I used to bullseye womprats in my T- Well you get the point. When you do figure it out it is oh so rewarding.

Concept: 10 
Beautiful recreation with ground breaking gameplay to boot. This is a classic.

Multiplayer: 9.5
Many options of play including exclusive force powers, different maps and a great online community. Join a clan today.

Overall: 9.6
I don't think I've ever given such a high score before. The fact of the matter is this. Episode 2 is just around the corner and if there is any doubt that Star Wars was fading or treading on thin ice (Phantom Menace) Jedi Outcast is here to restore faith. Raven and LucasArts have created a superior product that has to be one of the best ever. Now go get it and may the force be with you.


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