Sunday, January 17, 2016

Retro Review: Jedi Knight 2 Jedi Outcast

Shadow Troopers! These Darth Vader knockoffs are pretty difficult.

One of the defining games of my youth was Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast. The sequel to the classic Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight (this series had a weird thing going with titles), Jedi Outcast continued the adventures of Kyle Katarn, sort of an amalgam of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, as he rediscovers how to be a jedi. Set in the now-defunct Expanded Universe, Outcast has Kyle meeting up with many Star Wars regulars, like Luke and Lando, to take down the Imperial Remnant, led by Desann, a bipedal dinosaurian dark jedi who has infused his troops with the power of the force. Jedi Outcast was released during the reviled prequel trilogy, and although it didn't erase Lucas's cinematic sins, it offered a Star Wars alternative to those who felt as though they'd been burned.

Gameplay centers around third person combat with the lightsaber, with three different styles to choose from. A huge improvement from the primitive system utilized in the first Jedi Knight, Outcast has one of the finest combat systems I've encountered. Lightsaber hits are lethal and swings require patience and proper timing at higher difficulty levels, though you can hack and slash lower tier enemies such as stormtroopers. Force powers are also a joy to use, especially grip, which lets you choke enemies and throw them around like Darth Vader. Unfortunately, the game doesn't give you the saber or powers until you've completed five levels. Earlier titles were more shooters than saber simulations, but Outcast has some of the most frustrating first person shooting I've ever played. Gun animations are not tied to cross-hair movement, making enemies hard to hit, and hit boxes are incredibly small. You'll occasionally see blaster bolts hit targets and not register any damage. Considering that Outcast was developed using the same Quake 3 engine that powered one of the best shooters of all time, such foibles are difficult to forgive. The poor shooting makes the first couple levels much harder than they should be and will be a turn off to modern day players, who are less likely to stomach poor mechanics than the gamers of yesteryear.

Also of note is the sometimes confusing level design. Although not as expansive and vertical as Jedi Knight, Outcast features some labyrinthine mazes that require attention to detail while still being fairly linear. This is another thing that players today will have trouble with, since the game often doesn't give you much to go on, resulting in a few situations where you won't have a clue where to go. If you can stomach consulting a walkthrough, which I recommend, you'll lessen your frustration.

Outcast has a pretty decent plot, if you're the type who cares about the story when you play a game. For Star Wars fans, it's full of references (Kyle quips "Black armor... not again," when he first sees a Shadow Trooper. If you're in need of a Star Wars action fix, I can't think of a better recommendation. The single player campaign is pretty long as well, and you can player through the excellent multiplayer with bots, though there are still a few online players to be found. Though it's doubtful EA, who now have exclusive license to make all Star Wars games, will continue this series, Outcast is definitely worth playing, especially considering you can purchase it for just about nothing.

These guys don't know they're about to get force-pulled into a bottomless abyss.

No comments:

Post a Comment