Jedi Knight II: A review (Warning: Spoilers)

The long-awaited sequel to the kickass game Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (which makes this game Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: Dark Forces II, but I digress) has hit my grubby, sticky little hands. I played it, beat it in three days, and here’s what I have to say…

Short, short version for the lazy readers: Good game.

Longer version for the less lazy readers: Good game, but

First, I’ll start with the storyline (if you didn’t read the thread title… SPOILERS AHEAD!!). It’s all right, I suppose… hardly as cool as games like Half-Life or Halo. If you all remember, Kyle Katarn, badass mercenary and - coincidentally - son of a Jedi finished up the last game as an uber-powerful Jedi Knight, and he and his sweet little number Jan are the only two people who know the location of the Valley Of The Jedi (cue Indiana Jones theme).

Fast forward to this game. Now, it just wouldn’t do to have the player (you play Kyle) start off the game as an uber-powerful Jedi again. So you have no Force powers at the beginning. “Well, what happened to them?” the reader may ask. Well… he forgot. After spending 8 years or so doing his whole mercenary bit, he turned his back on the Jedi way and forgot how to use the Force (I’ve always thought that being a Jedi was like riding a bike, but, ah well). This odd little quirk is easily forgiveable, as there needs to be some development of Force powers over the game.

Now, good things about the story… the villain is introduced early, and he has a nice bit of dimension to him (not extremely well-rounded, but not wholly flat, either). The player is given a good deal of motivation to hate this villain. Plus, one encounters some nice, intriguing mysteries right off the bat.

Anyhoo, I’m not going to delve into the storyline too much (buy the game yourself if you want to know what happens), but some parts seemed a little gratuitous. For example at one point in the game, you randomly meet none other than - dum dum dum dum! - Lando Calrissian. And it seems that Lando and Kyle are good buddies. This is odd… although I’m speculating that Lucasarts managed to get Billy Dee Williams to do the voice, and as such wanted to take as much advantage of that as possible.

Graphics-wise, this game is a real stinker. The graphics and modeling and textures are all outdated, especially character models. The textures all look like those you’d find way back in Quake II. Some of the special effects were nice - such as the “bulging fisheye” effect whenever you used your Force Speed - but overall, the game felt really rushed. Character movement during cutscenes was extremely jittery and not even close to realistic (unlike the character movements found in, say Return to Castle Wolfenstein). In fact, only one aspect of the graphics was amazing… the shading on the characters, when the graphics were turned up near their highest, was out-and-out incredible. But that doesn’t overshadow the other shortcomings the game had.

The voice acting was very good, and all the dialogue between characters was intriguing and realistic. Unfortunately, the writing was pretty poor… every conversation was rushed (to keep down the memory requirements for the voice files, I’m sure). However, a lot of random background conversation was present… you could hear two stormtroopers chatting around the next corner, for example.

Gameplay: Overall, I give this big props. The most outstanding aspect of the gameplay had to do with all the Jedi abilities… using the lightsaber and various Force powers. Indeed, I think they made the lightsaber a little too cool… once I got it, I almost never used anything else. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of using the lightsaber, too, and duels can be very spiffy (you can get into saber locks with an opponent, which is really cool). Further, the Force powers are very useful and easy to use.

The major saving grace for this game, I think, is the fact that the levels are just downright enormous. They transplanted a chunk of the Nar Shadda streets at one point, and you can see for several kilometers down the row of buildings. The downside is that there are lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong load times when loading a level or a saved game, but I’m willing to put up with it.

The enemy AI seemed pretty smart, if at times cursed with that “super-perceptive” quality, where an enemy knows too much about what’s going on around it. But once you get down to the nitty-gritty, enemies will follow you, try to ambush you, pull dirty tricks, duck for cover, dodge and strafe… not too bad.

Ultimately, I give this game a 8.5 out of 10… the graphics and story are a little “Blah”, but the gameplay and being able to hack things to pieces with a lightsaber more than make up for it.

That game’s back on the shelf for me. The multiplayer is inane - read Penny Arcade’s reasoning why. I agree with everything said in that link.

Still, didn’t stop me from going through the entire singleplayer.

Yes it is a good game. But no one should be fooled: The game is all about the saber (and pushing stormtroopers of ledges), which makes it such a pain in the ass that you don’t even get your saber until after a couple of missions. Because frankly, the guns aren’t fun and they’re nothing you have’t already seen in Unreal.

But that aspect is present in every single multiplayer game in existence. It’s hardly something unique to JK2, and as such, hardly a decent criticism.

To me, the multiplayer is disappointing simply because everything turns into a Saberfest… which would be all well and good, except the lightsaber and Force physics which worked so wonderfully in single player suddenly become inept in multiplayer. Force abilities are muted, and the lightsaber fights change from finesse to luck. I’ve seen my saber go right through an opponent and he took no damage, while I don’t get discernably touched by one and suddenly I’m hacked to death.

Actually, it’s worse than that… since all the weapon shots travel so slowly (except the Disruptor), they’re just about useless. Heck, I timed it once, and found that when you have Force Speed on at the highest level, you run faster than a blaster bolt! Obviously, this makes shot timing all but impossible… you could throw rocks faster than these weapon shots travel.

HOWEVER… multiplayer is the exact opposite. Since everyone is so accustomed to the lightsaber being the shiznit, you pull out your Repeater and surprise 'em (nobody ever expects it). Heck, I racked up over three hundred points in a multiplayer game just now simply due to the Repeater’s secondary-fire option.

Anyway, I’m going to do the multiplayer a bit more before I pass the Final Judgment Of Doom (which just means I uninstall the game), but for the time being it’s looking all right. Lightsaber and Force glitches I can live with… I’ll just find servers that have Jedi powers turned off.

IIRC, Jedi Knight 1 had movie-style cutscenes with real actors. If you could ignore the over-acting they were pretty spiffy scenes. “Jittery chacter movements”: are you saying JK2 has cutscenes which use the game engine instead of little movie scenes?

Yup, that seems to be the trend that games are taking these days (they did it with the original JK expansion). Unfortunately, compared to games like RtCW, Halo… heck, even Half-Life, the movements for the characters during the cutscenes - and only during the cutscenes, strangely - was terrible.

The ‘Darth Gay’ and ‘Gaymorrean’ was secondary to the point of Every Goddamn Person Having A Lightsaber. Everyone’s a Jedi. Jedi are supposed to be the heroes of the Old Republic. They’re not supposed to be everyone.

Yeah, the game is called Jedi Knight and people want to play as a Jedi if they shelled out their $50, but it just felt too ‘out there’ for me. I can suspend disbelief to play a Star Wars game, but then I expect it to be like Star Wars.

I like the Jedi Knight mode – 1 Jedi and everyone’s out to kill them. If they die, whoever gets the lightsaber they drop becomes the Jedi. And the duels. Straight deathmatch isn’t much fun.

I’m aware of that. My point still stands… you’re criticizing the game based on what the players do, not what the game does. How is Lucasarts going to control what the players do?

Further, the game does have a single-player. In fact, I would dare say that the single player mode should be the primary reason for buying this. Multiplayer is just gravy.

I played through it. I think, on the whole, I enjoyed it. I never played the multiplayer more than a few times, though- in my opinion, the best multiplayer so far has been Unreal Tournament.

Anyway, in the single player, I found that I really only used the lightsaber. The only Force power I used (unless they forced me to use another one to solve a puzzle) was the Force Speed. I beat the final bad guy in just a few hits with that turned on- basically, my strategy for ANY enemy was to turn on Force Speed, then run at 'em and chop 'em into pieces. Thank the Force that none of the bad guys ever got that power! :eek:

I’ve a theory about the Star Wars Universe. What are the rebels rebelling against? The unsafe design priniciples that the Empire uses in all of their buildings. I mean, come on- have these people ever heard of GUARD RAILS?

This is NOT a game for the acrophobic. :slight_smile:

This design aspect made the final saber-less level just about the most irritating FPS sequence in about any game I’ve ever played in terms of sheer reload tedium.

Luckily, getting the saber after that sort of made up for it, but I think the game could have done without the initial bits entirely. I suppose it could have been thematic–driving home exactly why Jedis eschew the use of blasters.

I’d like to see the next Jedi Knight game to focus entirely on the saber and force-power aspects, improve saber combat (it’s fun, but a little bizarrely random as noted), and do a few things like, oh, make the jumping puzzles make more sense for level design. (I’m thinking specifically here of the “big room with three switches up above that randomly raise big square stairstep platforms to get at the three supply ledges by mantling” weirdness in the first base. Catwalks without handrails, I’m fine with–but an Imperial architect saying, “I’ll design this room precisely for a jumping puzzle!”? Way to jerk me out of the game, Raven.)

I think that room was supposed to be a training room for the dark jedi you meet later in the game. Sort of like the “danger room” the X-Men have. Honestly, the lack of gaurdrails bothered me more. There are a couple of levels where you can open the door to the elevator only to find yourself plummeting down the elevator shaft, because you didn’t press the elevator call button before opening the door. Shades of L.A. Law!

Overall, this was a great game. The lack of rendered cut-scenes is my biggest gripe. The engine-generated cut-scenes just didn’t work for me, especially because Kyle looked so…pathetic. He didn’t look like a bad-ass mercenary-cum-Jedi, he looked like my eighth grade Algebra teacher. He also had a disturbingly large booty. Outside of the cutscenes, I thought the graphics were fine. Not as cutting-edge as Wolfenstein, but still plenty appealing to look at, especially when coupled with the excellent level design.

Gameplay-wise, there are some problems. There were too many places where I was able to clear out a room full of Stormtroopers without even touching the mouse or keyboard: I’d just stand with my back to a wall and reflect blaster shots with my lightsaber until everyone was dead. At some point, maybe after half of their squad was cut down by their own blasters, you’d think maybe they’d stop firing. At higher difficulty levels this becomes less of an issue, as you face more troopers armed with area-effect weapons.

The guns, especially the E-11 blaster rifle (the ones Stormtroopers use) are so inaccurate it’s downright bizarre. I’ve been standing literally chest-to-chest with a bad guy, using the E-11 on full auto, and I still miss the enemy. And, by the time you get the lightsaber, you only have three of the games ten or so guns: the Bryar pistol (you’re starting gun), the aforementioned E-11, and a Wookie bowcaster. Once you have the lightsaber, all the other guns are mostly useless, except for the disruptor sniper rifle. The disruptor is sweet: excellent magnification, can’t be blocked by lightsabers, and it disintegrates your enemy when uesed at full power. Luckily, the game designers aparently did not find the idea of a “Jedi Sniper” at all contradictory.

The force powers are great. The only one I found myself not using very often was Force Lightning, because it had limited range and didn’t seem to do much damage. Rank Three Force Grip is the best, though, as you can pick up bad guys and slam them into walls for damage, or just lift them over one of the convenient bottomless pits that are standard in all Imperial facilities and let go.

One thing that’s probably going to turn off a lot of players is the difficulty in navigating some of the maps, especially early on. I spent almost two hours trying to find my way past the radiation room in the asteroid mining base, and faced similar problems on most of the other levels, spending a lot of time combing the entire place looking for the one vent or secret door that would lead to the rest of the game. I enjoyed this sort of exploratory gameplay (up to a point, anyway) but I think most people will just find it aggravating.

I just had a mental image of the Imperial Building and Safety Department. Some public official standing behind the counter recommending no guardrails on your landing platform.

I agree with alot of what people are saying in this thread. The cutscenes are very stale. Kyle does look like some host who would seat you at the Outback Steakhouse. The sabres are pretty badass except that they do seem to be very in accurate. I just run around in circles and swing till I kill someone or I get killed.

I have not figured out the force powers yet. I cant figure out how to use them and run at the same time. I just got it today though.

I like the multiplayer alot. Its fun standing on ledge and shooting two guys that are locked up in a sabre duel. :stuck_out_tongue: The weapons are standard fare as far as I can tell, but I dont play many of these FPS shooters to say for sure.

I must disagree with the complaint about all the different crazy races you can be as a Jedi. What do you want? 25 people who are all either Luke, Vader, or Yoda?

Actually, can someone tell me why there is no Yoda, Vader, Obi Wan, Darth Maul or any of the movie guys in this game to play? At least in multiplayer would be nice. Yoda especially.

Anyone who wants to play multiplayer on this game, I will play with you. I like it.

Oh yeah, I forgot onething that REALLY irks me.

In most multiplayer games I always get “gripped” by some guy and he drops me off the ledge!! How the hell do you avoid that? These maps are 90% open holes. Its hard to stay alive. The only thing I could do was one time I whipped my sabre at the guy and killed him.

I dont understand why they put so much open ledges and stuff in the multiplayer game. Makes some games very cheap.

Do blasts deflect automatically or do you need to swing your sabre? Havent figured that out yet either.

Just played through the demo, but I think I can answer your questions.

  1. When being gripped, use a push or pull on the fellow who’s gripping you. He seemed to let me go when I did that.

  2. To block attacks, just hold your saber towards the enemy; no need to attack. Move into the other stance to defend from a wider angle.

Of course, if I’m wrong, I plead the “It works in the demo” case. :smiley: