Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast - Lightsaber Beats Blaster

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast - Lightsaber Beats Blaster

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is showing its age, but still has some great moments once you get past the shooty bits.

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One weird thing I remember, the game showed three levels of Force Powers. Jedi Academy was the same way. But the powers actually had fourth and fifth tiers. Using the console you could get access to two new lightsaber stances (a heavier and a faster style) and some of the abilities actually picked up new characteristics. Mid Trick would let you remote control an enemy, for example.

I gotta agree. While Outcast has better pacing than Jedi Academy overall Jedi Academy is superior in a lot of other regards. You get your lightsaber from the beginning, you get to choose your powers and there aren't of the awful puzzles that bring the game to a grinding halt. The missions don't really connect together so there's never any narrative sense of urgency, and the pacing of the whole game suffers because of that, but each individual mission is better paced. Lack of choice over powers really kills the fun too. Its nice that you eventually get all of them, unlike Jedi Academy, but you miss out on a lot of fun in the meantime. The best fun to be had in the game is tossing stormtroopers around with Force Choke and you can't do that until the last few levels.

Also, Nar Shadaa snipers? Force Speed sprint past them. Disruptor snipers simply can't keep up with the pace.

Some fair enough criticisms, most of which I agree with. Thankfully, Jedi Academy dealt with the worst of them almost immediately - the E-11 blaster doesn't suck balls any more, but you don't care about that because you start with a lightsaber. The force powers are also much more toyboxed, so aside from the core skills you can specialise very quickly or spread out your force powers.
All that being said, this comes at the price of the narrative. I like the story to Academy, but it doesn't hold a candle to Outcast. The instant access to force and saber abilities also means that you can (and often do) run entire playthroughs without using other weapons.

MarsAtlas:
snip

I almost did reference Jedi Academy here, but it's been so long since I played it that I couldn't be sure my memories were faulty with it. But I absolutely don't remember having the same problems with it.

As for the snipers, that worked sometimes, but you have to keep going back and forth across the same areas and there's so many that you're probably going to get hit eventually. Especially during points where an enemy stands in your way or you're waiting for the elevator.

It's appropriately awesome to rush by them like that when it works out, but after four or five times it gets a little grating.

Fanghawk:

MarsAtlas:
snip

I almost did reference Jedi Academy here, but it's been so long since I played it that I couldn't be sure my memories were faulty with it. But I absolutely don't remember having the same problems with it.

As for the snipers, that worked sometimes, but you have to keep going back and forth across the same areas and there's so many that you're probably going to get hit eventually. Especially during points where an enemy stands in your way or you're waiting for the elevator.

It's appropriately awesome to rush by them like that when it works out, but after four or five times it gets a little grating.

The snipers are back in Jedi Academy, but the game's a lot more sparing with their use. On the whole it's a much more playable game than Outcast was. It's probably worth revisiting in a future review, when you're feeling in the mood for Star Wars.

Fanghawk:

Beating a Force user is a matter of correctly timing your lightsaber strikes or finding creative uses of your powers.

Or just using Force Speed and mindlessly slashing in the general direction of the enemy. Force Speed makes the entire game a complete cakewalk in almost every situation but ESPECIALLY with the lightsaber duels. The original Dark Forces games were better about this as timing was necessary to be able to have a chance of winning a lightsaber duel and even regular enemies were strong enough to give the player trouble.

As much as I love Jedi Outcast (I even prefer it over Jedi Academy in a few respects), I will readily admit that its campaign is plagued by atrocious level design. I can forgive the occasional vague key hunt, but throwing in stuff like pitch-black segments that require you to use night vision goggles with defective batteries or a shoehorned stealth section with insta-fail detection really grated on my nerves. But perhaps the most egregious were the jump puzzles, usually over some form of bottomless pit. Not only did they require pinpoint accuracy, but they were freaking everywhere.

Luckily the modding community provided lots of awesome single player maps to help offset this. They're pretty much all I play nowadays when I'm in the mood to revisit the game.

Neverhoodian:
(...)I will readily admit that its campaign is plagued by atrocious level design. I can forgive the occasional vague key hunt, but throwing in stuff like pitch-black segments that require you to use night vision goggles with defective batteries or a shoehorned stealth section with insta-fail detection really grated on my nerves. But perhaps the most egregious were the jump puzzles, usually over some form of bottomless pit. Not only did they require pinpoint accuracy, but they were freaking everywhere(...)

This
I'm currently playing Outcast for the first time, since I enjoyed Academy years back, and needed some lightsaber duels for nostalgia sake. Probably one of the best looking DX8 game out there (on Quake 3 engine, which really shows - first few levels even feel like Quake 3 with Star Wars skin). I dont really mind the graphics - to this day I'm fond of PSX level, so it's hard to discourage me in this regard.
But OMG the jumping feels so slippery. Katarn just slides after landing which can lead to instant death. The level desing is terrible, often confusing, with puzzles that can take entire day to figure out. I constantly find myself opening gamefaqs just to consult walkthrough on what to do next, just because I'm sick of running around sniffing each wall. First half of the game (as I'm somewhere in the middle) is filled with life-poisoning snipers and grenadiers, fortunately abusing force speed makes quick work of them (even makes sniping them easier). We'll see how it goes from here. I like the story so far, also needed to read an article from expanded universe about what happened previously, since everyone mentions "incident in the Valley of the Jedi", but no one cares to sum it up what it was about.
All in all - I'd say that the game aged more in game design aspect than it did in graphics.

Fanghawk:

MarsAtlas:
snip

I almost did reference Jedi Academy here, but it's been so long since I played it that I couldn't be sure my memories were faulty with it. But I absolutely don't remember having the same problems with it.

As for the snipers, that worked sometimes, but you have to keep going back and forth across the same areas and there's so many that you're probably going to get hit eventually. Especially during points where an enemy stands in your way or you're waiting for the elevator.

It's appropriately awesome to rush by them like that when it works out, but after four or five times it gets a little grating.

I've replayed the whole Dark Forces and Jedi Knight seriesr in the past year and Academy really does hold up better than Outcast, its not just nostalgia. Its also shorter than Outcast too and doesn't punch with its narrative quite as well. Making your own jedi is a lot of fun though, even if we've still seen it before. It also has a multiplayer community that is still active. I don't play the multiplayer but its still there nonetheless.

MarsAtlas:

Fanghawk:

MarsAtlas:
snip

I almost did reference Jedi Academy here, but it's been so long since I played it that I couldn't be sure my memories were faulty with it. But I absolutely don't remember having the same problems with it.

As for the snipers, that worked sometimes, but you have to keep going back and forth across the same areas and there's so many that you're probably going to get hit eventually. Especially during points where an enemy stands in your way or you're waiting for the elevator.

It's appropriately awesome to rush by them like that when it works out, but after four or five times it gets a little grating.

I've replayed the whole Dark Forces and Jedi Knight seriesr in the past year and Academy really does hold up better than Outcast, its not just nostalgia. Its also shorter than Outcast too and doesn't punch with its narrative quite as well. Making your own jedi is a lot of fun though, even if we've still seen it before. It also has a multiplayer community that is still active. I don't play the multiplayer but its still there nonetheless.

And an awkwardly animated unarmed "weapon" if you unlock it in the console. Immensely fun/ridiculous to grab someone by the shins and swing them over your head.

A very fair review, I think. In my thoughts and compared against modern titles, the game is a mixed bag.

Good:
-Lightsabre battles feel really authentic. They put a lot of detail into that side of things - I remember duelling my friend once and he beat me by performing a backflip strike off a wall that I didn't even know was in the game.
-The environments are great, and it really has the Star Wars feel without ever needing to go to Tatooine! The start of the Bespin level was amazing - like the end of The Empire Strike Back in reverse.
-A lot of variety in the guns, items and force powers to play with.
-A rather enjoyable multiplayer experience for its time.

Bad:
-Most of the guns suck ass. The pistol, E-11 and bowcaster are god-awful and coincidentally these are the guns you're restricted to for the first 5 levels. The other guns have mostly situational value, like when you're forced to snipe in Nar Shaddar or when you need to break out the heavy weapons to deal with Imperial Walkers.
-Some levels are just absurdly annoying, especially where timed jumping or forced stealth is required.
-The story is just balls in some places. A magical valley that gives everyone force powers is the very definition of a plot McGuffin.

Overall though, I had a blast with it back in the day.

Was it Outcast or Jedi Knight where if you found all the secrets in the level it'd reward you with Force Upgrade points? I remember that breaking the game a bit if you were diligent in your searches in the early levels you'd be overpowered before the game even gave you a lightsaber

One of my top games ever. I'm sorry to read that the author couldn't handle a little bit of difficulty.

Yes, some things require quite a bit of thinking, but the logical connection is there when you reach the solution. It really isn't oldschool point&click level illogical.

The blaster combat was just fine for that day and age as well. Plus, the game is called "Jedi Knight", obviously sabers are going to win over them. Though I'd give this tip: you apparently undervalued the disruptor rifle.

Let's be clear here: the saber combat in this game from 2002 tramples right over the saber combat of Battlefront released in 2015. Heck, the even older Jedi Knight games still trample it.

Was playing this today and apparently I'm too stupid to beat the first level. I have the 3 imperial codes, I just don't know how to power on the console that I enter them into.

Shodan1980:
Was it Outcast or Jedi Knight where if you found all the secrets in the level it'd reward you with Force Upgrade points? I remember that breaking the game a bit if you were diligent in your searches in the early levels you'd be overpowered before the game even gave you a lightsaber

That was Jedi Knight. Though, as I recall, you couldn't actually spend any force points until you'd unlocked the lightsaber.

Xan Krieger:
Was playing this today and apparently I'm too stupid to beat the first level. I have the 3 imperial codes, I just don't know how to power on the console that I enter them into.

You need to power up the array to send the codes. First you need to disable the shield to a closed off room, you do that in a room with a walkway that circles the room. You disable the shield there, then head into the previously closed room to power up the array / console.

Tried this a couple of years back. Gritted my teeth through the first five levels. Finally got s lightsaber, so excited. Then Nar Shadaa happened and I gave up. Played some random games, so I know how fun the saber combat can be, but the game lost its chance.

It's a real shame the series ended with Jedi Academy. As others have said, that was easily the best game in terms of combat and actually letting you build your own Jedi, but it rather fell down on story. Nothing since has come close to reproducing the high pace and acrobatics of lightsabre fights. With the recent prevalence of Mount & Blade-inspired melee games you'd have thought the time would be ripe to revisit it again since there's obviously a market for the genre even when the swords aren't glowing, but sadly I suspect the schedule of new Star Wars films means an endless stream of mediocre tie-ins rather than anything as good as this series happening again.

The first Dark Forces II WAS Star Wars for me, and is one of the primary reasons I can't be a fan any more. I liked Outcast just fine, but it wasn't as good as the first.

damn, i played the game a lot and was really exited fir academy. which was just a fun game. just played outcast last month after getting the whole bundle on steam on special, since my retail version isnt working anymore. had a good time but yeah, its still hard at times and also the damn layout of the maps makes me always scratch my head what were the architects thinking.
still a fun game though and i still can recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of a hard FPS title. unless you enter cheats in and just enjoy slaughtering stormtroopers with your saber since you can cut them in to pieces.

While I liked it, I did not find it as good as its sequel, Jedi Academy. This is probably to do with having played Jedi Outcast AFTER already having finished Jedi Academy, while also playing it close to a decade after it was released, when it inevitably starts showing signs of aging.

Having said that, it was still a thrilling ride, particularly after the frustrating beginning levels when you have no lightsaber yet. Pass that point, get the saber, and even though the guns are not rendered fully obsolete, no one in their right mind would want to switch back to them when you can jump, slice and dice through dozens of bad guys. As stated in the article, immensely satisfying.

Which brings me to an opportunity to ask a question: from my knowledge, The Force Unleashed games also include third-person perspective lightsaber combat with force powers. How, in your opinion, do they compare to the Jedi Outcast games? I have been meaning to try them out (the upcoming movie hype really did re-spark my fascination with the SW universe), but was unsure because of somewhat negative reviews and lack of time (or dedicating that time to something more fun and/or productive).

Man, I have fond memories of those games.

Jedi Knight was a lot of fun but the light-saber combat was a little bit difficult to use, something that Jedi Outcast fixed nicely. My biggest issue with JO was the forced stealth mission near the end of the game(oh, suddenly I have to be quiet because otherwise I'd have to kill more of the troopers I've been murdering by the ton thus far?) and that stupid, stupid comm relay puzzle.

For those who don't remember, you're on the bad guy's capital ship and you need to send a message off the ship through the ships relay. The problem is, instead of having you access a panel or maybe a few buttons like any normal person would, this ship has a series of nodes arraigned in a 3D cube array hung over a bottomless pit, that is only accessible by force jumping.

Guess what you get to do for the next 10-15 minutes? Yep. Whoever thought that puzzle up needs to have their cell phone replaced by similar array in their home, operated the same way. Then they can tell me how much sense it makes and how it's not incredibly annoying.

V3rtig0:
Which brings me to an opportunity to ask a question: from my knowledge, The Force Unleashed games also include third-person perspective lightsaber combat with force powers. How, in your opinion, do they compare to the Jedi Outcast games? I have been meaning to try them out (the upcoming movie hype really did re-spark my fascination with the SW universe), but was unsure because of somewhat negative reviews and lack of time (or dedicating that time to something more fun and/or productive).

The Force Unleashed series is really good. The combat system and Force powers are intuitive and powerful, while still offering a challenge, and it's not bogged down by super confusing puzzles of the last generation. Its team knew lightsabers and Force battles were what everyone wanted, so they built all gameplay around that. Probably the closest comparison is God of War meets Star Wars, although the combat feels fresh enough that it wasn't a straight copy-paste job.

I thought the story was surprisingly great too, at least in the first game. Force Unleashed 2 is more of a decent expansion than a sequel, and the story is weird, but the combat itself still holds up.

That being said, your mileage may vary depending on which version you play. From what I hear, go with PC Ultimate Edition or one of the Sony/Xbox consoles. The Wii version is to be avoided. I played the PSP version of FU1 for its historical duel mode, and liked it, but it didn't have the glossy textures that made the other versions look fantastic for the time.

Fanghawk:

V3rtig0:
Which brings me to an opportunity to ask a question: from my knowledge, The Force Unleashed games also include third-person perspective lightsaber combat with force powers. How, in your opinion, do they compare to the Jedi Outcast games? I have been meaning to try them out (the upcoming movie hype really did re-spark my fascination with the SW universe), but was unsure because of somewhat negative reviews and lack of time (or dedicating that time to something more fun and/or productive).

The Force Unleashed series is really good. The combat system and Force powers are intuitive and powerful, while still offering a challenge, and it's not bogged down by super confusing puzzles of the last generation. Its team knew lightsabers and Force battles were what everyone wanted, so they built all gameplay around that. Probably the closest comparison is God of War meets Star Wars, although the combat feels fresh enough that it wasn't a straight copy-paste job.

I thought the story was surprisingly great too, at least in the first game. Force Unleashed 2 is more of a decent expansion than a sequel, and the story is weird, but the combat itself still holds up.

That being said, your mileage may vary depending on which version you play. From what I hear, go with PC Ultimate Edition or one of the Sony/Xbox consoles. The Wii version is to be avoided. I played the PSP version of FU1 for its historical duel mode, and liked it, but it didn't have the glossy textures that made the other versions look fantastic for the time.

Pretty much same opinion for me. I LOVED Force Unleashed 1, gameplay and story. FU 2 was..less Forcetacular. The gameplay was still just as spot on, but the plot was basically not there at all. The missions felt totally disconnected, and no overarcing narrative at all. I personally enjoyed FU more than the Jedi Knight games, specifically for the way they handled the Force powers and combat. I really wish they would make more games using that engine. Doesn't have to be about Starkiller, I couldn't care less who the Force user is that I'm playing as, or when they lived. Just let me fling handfuls of stormtroopers into other stormtroopers, and snatch tie fighters out of the air to fling at AT-ST's, and I'll be a happy little Padawan.

Thank you both for the feedback! Sounds like the force might be strong with these, should probably seek out a copy of TFU1 in the nearest future.
And as for the dropped quality in the plot of the second game, oh well. I'm not averse to dated graphics or a weaker plot if the gameplay is satisfying. Like Jedi Academy's was. And if you say that they at least have good saber combat down, well, that's good enough for me!

 

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