Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast – GC – Review

Jedi Knight 2 may come as a
surprise to gamers who are unfamiliar with the Jedi Knight series.  For one
thing, the majority of the game is played from a first-person perspective. 
The default controls are like Golden Eye 007 or any other James Bond title —
the left thumbstick is used for strafing, whereas the right thumbstick
controls your view.  All of the levels have a ton of corridors that must be
explored; hidden areas that should be found; and what feels like an endless
amount of doors to unlock.  In other words, Jedi Knight 2 is mostly a standard
first-person shooter with Star Wars-inspired characters and weapons.  Granted,
all of the gameplay aspects, standard or not, are presented really well, and I
must admit that the Star Wars elements make the game a lot more fun to play.

Being a Star Wars game and
all, there are times when you can whip out a lightsaber to slice and dice your
enemies.  When using the lightsaber, Jedi Knight 2 switches to a third-person
perspective, giving the player greater control over the character.  LucasArts
(and its third-party helpers) are getting closer and closer to creating
perfect lightsaber combat in a video game.  I can’t say that the lightsaber is
the best weapon in the game, but it is more fun to use.  You can use it to do
just about everything that it does in the movies: destroy pesky Stormtroopers,
deflect laser beams, battle Sith Lords and block oncoming lightsaber attacks,
among other things.  It can penetrate various objects, too.  The lightsaber
combat, and the formation of Kyle’s moves are very impressive.  His moves
aren’t entirely seamless, but they look really cool, and are a blast to
perform.  The PC nature of the game makes lightsaber blocking/deflecting a lot
easier, since the camera can be moved in any virtually any direction.

Whether shooting or
lightsabering, Jedi Knight 2’s combat is great, but there isn’t enough of it. 
I don’t want a first-person shooter where ten million monsters attack me at
once.  By that same token, no FPS should have an overwhelming number of empty,
overly similar rooms that make you get confused about what to do next.  The
mission objectives aren’t always clear, and if you can’t figure out what to do
next, chances are you’ll search for enemies to kill.  That’s okay, but it
becomes a problem when there aren’t any more enemies to kill.  The "find a
key, unlock this door" gameplay style has never been my cup of tea.  Whenever
I found my way, the game became loads of fun again, and all frustration was
eliminated.  But those tedious, in-between moments can get really tiring after
a while.

Graphically, Jedi Knight
2 is a bit behind its GameCube siblings, especially Rogue Squadron 2.  The PC
is generally a good source for cutting-edge graphics, but that isn’t the case
here.  It has to be said that the GameCube version looks fairly close to the
PC version released last year.  However, the PC version wasn’t that visually
spectacular to begin with.  Most of the enemies look good, especially the
Stormtroopers, as do some of the game’s backgrounds.  The ships are nice
polygon copies of the high-tech movie counterparts, though not nearly as
stunning as the ships in Clone Wars or Rogue Squadron 2.  Other than that,
Jedi Knight 2 is pretty basic looking.  Its special effects are superior to
most other GameCube ports, but it doesn’t really do anything to make it stand
out from the crowd (visually).

The lacking graphics
shouldn’t bother you too much though.  Jedi Knight 2 "sounds" a lot better
than it looks.  Its music is made up of many classic Star Wars tunes, filling
your ears with hours of John Williams’ unforgettable masterpiece.  Likewise,
the sound effects have been taken directly from the movie.  Star Wars has one
of the most unmistakable laser blast sounds in the world, and you’ll hear it a
lot in this game, along with familiar explosions, hummable lightsaber effects
and memorable droid beeps.  Every chapter in this saga, whether created by
George Lucas or not, must begin with SW’s main theme and a few introductory
paragraphs, followed by a ship flying away from the screen and a nice "zoom"
sound.  That’s exactly how this game begins.  Afterwards, Jedi Knight 2 jumps
right into a brief intro, complete with decent voice acting from the main
characters.  Some of the dialogue is a bit on the cheesy side, but most of the
lines are said with a convincing tone of voice.

Jedi Knight 2 is another
really good Star Wars game for all of the diehard fans out there.  Casual fans
will like it, too, but they will be more easily frustrated than the hardcore
fans, who will do anything to prove that they are the "most powerful Jedi
ever."  There is a lot of fun to be had with this game, so be sure to check it
out sometime.  If you have a powerful PC, get that version instead — it’s
faster, smoother and the mouse and keyboard controls are more precise.

Reviewer’s Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7.9
An "outcast,"
this is not.  Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast is a fun, mostly improved
sequel that’ll transport you to the Star Wars universe.  It’s a little more on
the shooter side of things than you’d expect from a Star Wars game, so now
you’ll have a chance to see what it would be like to be Han Solo for a day.

Graphics: 7.2 
Jedi Knight 2
certainly isn’t the prettiest Star Wars game around, but it does have some
cool effects.  I could have done without the silly death animation though (Stormtroopers
literally fly into the air and unrealistically fall whenever they’re shot off
an edge of a platform).  Things like that tend to take away from a game’s
visual appeal.

Sound: 8
If you love Star
Wars music, you’ll love this soundtrack.  Translation: if you’re a human,
you’ll love this soundtrack.

Difficulty: Medium
Even on the
easiest game mode, Jedi Knight 2 is still somewhat of a challenge.

Concept: 7 
Let’s forget
about the fact that this is a port of a year-old PC game and concentrate on
the original concept: an improved Star Wars first-person shooter.  The result
is just that — more first-person shooting, great lightsaber action and some
really cool Force powers.

Multiplayer: 7
Jedi Knight 2’s
split-screen action allows two players to grab a lightsaber and prove once and
for all who the most powerful Jedi is.

Overall: 7.8
Star Wars
loyalists, this game’s for you.  FPS junkies will wonder where the deep
multiplayer mode is, and casual gamers will wonder why the game isn’t a little
more straightforward.  Forget about all that and try the game for yourself. 
Like people, this game has its share of problems, but once you get to know it,
you’ll likely find that it’s a game worth spending time with.