Star Wars – it’s a catchy but nonsensical name when you really think about it. Exactly how many stars are seen scrapping it out during the film? None, that’s how many. They don’t even blow a star up, just a mere planet. Of course, there’s the Death Star, but that’s not really a star, it looks more like a moon. “That’s no moon….”
We could go on and on, and very probably will, because Star Wars brings out the worst in a sci-fi geek. But before we dive headfirst into an impassioned discussion about whether Boba Fett or IG-88 was the coolest bounty hunter, we’d best remember that Jedi Knight II is one massively-awaited 3D shooter sequel and we’re supposed to be informing you of whether it’s any good or not.
Happily, it’s corking stuff, improving considerably on the original. At the start of the game, you play a grizzled mercenary by the name of Kyle Katarn, an ex-Jedi who’s given it all up because of the horrors he’s seen. However, events in the unfolding plot-line soon have you reaching for your light-sabre again.
Jedi Outcast is a wonderful combination of standard fare shooter action (all blasters and rockets) along with light-sabre combat which is brilliantly implemented. Combine this with the force powers you learn at the start of each level (which can be used to strangle people, perform poltergeist impersonations or zap Imperial forces with lightning) and you’ve got some top-notch core gameplay. It’s immense fun cutting through Stormtroopers with your sabre while deflecting all their blaster shots, electrifying the odd one for good measure.
While this is a first-person shooter and action is clearly top of the bill, Jedi Outcast also contains a large amount of puzzles, far more than the average FPS game. This lends a variety to the game which is reinforced by the difference between the (beautifully rendered) environments you travel to and the mission goals you’re given.
Only occasionally do the puzzle sections get frustrating. We did get stuck for some time on the odd stinker, though not for so long that it really began to grate. Another very minor moan is that unlike the previous Jedi Knight, you don’t get to choose your force powers but instead are allocated them automatically throughout the game. This isn’t a major loss though and it did allow the developers to design certain puzzles knowing you would have the requisite powers to get through them.
Finally, a word on the multiplayer feature. And that word is “splendid”. There’s a decent amount of options including deathmatches, duels and a capture-the-flag style game, with the added bonus that you get to create your character, allotting points to gain force powers and choosing the colour of your light sabre (yes, it’s a bit sad that this thrilled us). Most importantly, it’s eminently playable.