Your powers are weak, old man…
Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight was released a good few years back, and was an instant hit. A bog-standard first-person shooter for the most part, the interest lay in the Force Powers you could develop. Acts of good gave you ‘nice’ powers, and acts of evil gave you ‘dark’ powers. Of course, the evil powers kicked an awful lot more booty and were much more fun to play with ;)
Shift forwards to 2002, when Lucasarts released the long-awaited sequel. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast features the very latest revision of the oft-used Quake III engine. The Q3 engine is capable of some very good looking graphics, and my Xabre graphics card is in a prime position to exploit all of JK2’s prettiest feature. Possibly the coolest graphical feature is that the light-sabre will cut glowing holes through all the scenery if not kept in a safe place. JK2 immediately annoyed me with its lame intro sequence, which reminded me of the kiddy-centric feel of the recent Star Wars Starfighter games. And the game didn’t exactly get better from then. The level design is the first villain. Sure, there’s plenty of air ducts and stuff to explore, but the amount of actual hidden stuff is minimal. Instead, you are left with no real sense of direction or purpose, and end up wandering aimlessly. Nowhere illustrates this better than a later level which sees you making Force Jumps around an area, searching for switches and trying not to fall to your death. It’s not exciting, it’s annoying.
The weapons are also heavily unbalanced, and feature no “assistance” whatsoever. Whilst I don’t think auto-aim from 6 feet is a good thing, I DO think it’s silly for 5 of 6 shots aimed at the same place to go over an enemy’s shoulder or under an arm. All my favourite FPSs are somewhat lenient with regard to this, and when you’re shooting unresponsive weaponry at enemies that run about almost as much as those in Red Faction, it gets annoying. A further complaint is that there’s no choice to the game. Whereas JK allowed the development of force powers based on YOU, there’s no such freedom here. Whilst games don’t have to do this to be good (just look at Serious Sam), it’s a wasted opportunity. Especially compared to its predecessor.
Multi-player is, of course, a big factor of modern games, and Jedi Knight 2 makes no attempt to hide this. However, all of the irritations from the main game remain. The weapons are grossly imbalanced for multi-player, and awkward to try and aim around the poorly-designed levels. Whilst there’s a huge gathering of rabid fans, it certainly isn’t as much fun as a well-played deathmatch in Unreal Tourney or a few rounds in Counterstrike. The lightsabre duels are cute, but it turns into little more than a 3D version of the 80s arcade game Joust, with the two combatants clicking randomly and jumping at each other.
To sum up, I disliked JK2. I find it hard to say anything good about it other than the graphics, and the graphics are borrowed technology anyway. That said, it’s still better than some games I’ve played, and the single player, whils not great, should last a while.
Gaming Hexus rating: 4/10