Another knight out on the town.
Life as a Jedi seems pretty sweet. You can influence people with a wave of a hand, kick the collective butt of an entire stormtrooper platoon and never have a problem scratching that hard to reach spot in the middle of your back. But for those of us without a midichlorian infestation, there's Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, a port of the excellent PC hit and now appearing on an Xbox near you. It's got Action! Adventure! Danger! Excitement! Not half bad for a Star Wars game, eh?
You reprise your role as Kyle Katarn, the on again, off again Jedi Knight and Force philosopher. After running around the galaxy as a mercenary for the last few years and leaving his lightsaber with good ol' Luke Skywalker, Kyle thought that he had finally put the Force behind . But that was before the New Republic intercepted a transmission from the remnants of the Empire about the mysterious Valley of the Jedi. Naturally, you're sent in to investigate and that's when the poodoo hits the fan.
With an assortment of blasters, explosives and one handy, all-purpose glow stick, you'll take on wave after wave of scum and villainy in both first and third person. From the basic Bryar Blaster pistol to the Golan Arms FC-1, you'll never lack projectiles to hurl to at the endless waves of bad guys.
And after a few levels (when you've gotten back in touch with your Jedi-ness), you'll also gain a handful of Force powers. Besides being able to toss your lightsaber around like a boomerang and shove grunts around like high-school freshmen, you'll have the power to confuse enemies with a Jedi Mind Trick and toast them to a crisp with a little Force lightning. In addition to these powers, you'll also be able to choose from three specific styles of lightsaber combat (fast, medium and strong) to put your own personal touch on the game. Not a shabby bag of tricks for a bunch of spoon benders and mind readers.
Surprisingly, the control isn't half-bad. Most FPS' that get ported over to a console suffer from the lack of a mouse and keyboard, but this is not the case with Jedi Outcast. Just pop over to the Advanced Controls screen and adjust 'til your Jedi heart's content. Every control option can be found here with separate sensitivity options for both horizontal and vertical thumbstick movement. There's also an option for auto-leveling and assisted aiming for those Jedi who couldn't hit the broadside of a bantha with a Super Star Destroyer.
When the action gets going, things look and sound pretty good. Lightsaber battles look awesome with sparks flying everywhere and Force-powered beings clashing to the familiar tunes of John Williams. The rest of the time, the game's visuals are merely sufficient. Indoor areas look perfect with crisp Imperial creases, but you'll really see the age of this old engine in the outdoor areas. Also, the in-game cutscenes look like someone took an old camcorder and just filmed their PC monitor while they were playing. Sheesh, looks like one of the yokels from Agamar snuck onto the cutscene committee.
Speaking of stupid, you'll occasionally notice one of the enemies just lose his marbles. Every so often, stormtroopers will just run right past you as if they were following some kind of script. I know they aren't rocket scientists, but I guess the remnants of the Empire can only afford the dregs of the universe. As long as they know which way to point their E-11's, they're hired.
Jedi, on the other hand, will need all of their wits to get through the game's many challenging puzzles. From basic locked door puzzles to Force powered brain teasers, Jedi Outcast never feels like a cheap point-and-click shooter.
Things can get a little frustrating, though, since the console version seems to be really touchy with character positioning when activating objects such as buttons and computer consoles. For example, there was one section of a base I was running though that was filled with locked doors. I had run though every inch of the place, pushing every button and computer terminal imaginable, yet I still could not progress. Finally, when taking my fifth or so trip around, I stumbled on the correct computer terminal that I had tried several times before. It turns out that though I had attempted to activate the computer console before, I did not have the cursor on the EXACT spot needed to open the doors. Picky, picky.
But for every little fault, there's definitely something good to bring balance to the Force. Jedi Outcast features a solid Multiplayer option that's a great way for you to show off your Jedi skills to a buddy. Several individual and team-based game modes are included for your pleasure, such as Jedi Master, Duel and Capture the Flag. And since you can't have a party with just two people, there's also an option to include up to 14 bots. Not bad, but it's a real bummer that Jedi Outcast isn't Xbox Live! compatible.
Still, Jedi Outcast stands out as one of the better Star Wars games to date. It's got great lightsaber battles and enough Star Wars action to satisfy even the biggest George Lucas junkie. Yoda would be proud.