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ups: Great visuals creat immersive and fun atmorsphere; great depth in matering the Force and your lighsaber.
downs: Generous dose of puzzles may hamper the action; not quite solid control can be frustrating.

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Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Review (PC)
game: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: LucasArts
developer: Raven Software
date posted: 09:10 AM Thu Jun 6th, 2002
last revision: 05:13 PM Thu Nov 3rd, 2005

By Todd Allen

If I had to sum up Jedi Knight II in one word it would be polish. The level of detail and Star Wars realism in this game is staggering. You will be totally immersed in what looks, sounds, and feels like a galaxy far, far away. Lucasarts and Raven Software obviously put a lot of painstaking effort into helping gamers actually feel like they are legitimate Jedi Knights. With the myriad of Star Wars games already out you might wonder how this one could be so different. Oh young Padawan, you have so much to learn...Step into Jedi Knight II\'s office.

The story picks up after the events of Dark Forces II. Our hero Kyle Katarn defeated the dark Jedi, Jerec and kept the power of the Valley of the Jedi from falling into evil hands. Distressed by his brush with the Dark Side, Kyle decided to leave his Jedi ways and return to doing reconnaissance missions for the New Republic. On a routine mission to a planet Kejim, though, Katarn and his partner come face to face with the menace of the Dark Side. What\'s a rusty Jedi to do?

Your first missions are pretty straightforward. Players can expect a healthy dose of puzzles and platform jumping -- one area where Jedi Knight II\'s polish runs a little thin. Amidst the nice visuals you\'ll be doing a bit of running back and forth to unlock doors. If gamers can bear with this title for a couple of hours then they will really be satisfied. The real game begins once you start to tap into your growing mastery of the force.

Eventually you will come into contact with Luke Skywalker, who helps you get your skills up to snuff. This is another area where Jedi Knight II shines: cameos. You will see several familiar faces from Master Skywalker to Lando Calrissian, whose voice acting is done by Billy Dee Williams himself. You won\'t just sit around and chew the fat with these guys either. Your allies will take a bite out of the Imperials right beside you, and this game makes sure you have the equipment to do it too.

Jedi Outcast lets players render justice with 13 different weapons including a few different explosives. You\'ll recognize several like the blaster rifle and Wookie bowcaster. All the weapons have secondary uses as well. Once you lay hands on your lightsaber, though, you\'ll be hard pressed to holster it. Lightsaber combat is one area where Jedi Outcast really delivers the goods.

Earlier it was said that Jedi Outcast lets you feel like a legitimate Jedi. The depth involved with learning and mastering the use of a lightsaber is phenomenal. You can swing your saber horizontally, vertically, and diagonally for starters. Your attacks will vary depending on where your enemy is in relation to you. This alone allows for some strategizing during your fights, especially against others wielding lightsabers.

On top of that there are three different fighting stances you can use to vanquish your foes. You start out with a medium stance, which is basically your all-purpose mix of speed and power. Beyond that you can learn a power stance, which is very slow, but can knock the lightsaber right out of a combatants hands. Also you can learn the quick stance, which as the name implies depends on weaker, but much quicker strokes. Each stance contains its own special moves as well. Never before has swinging a lightsaber been more rewarding. What would a Jedi be, though, without the force as his ally?

Of course even an expert of saber combat requires the living force to be a real Jedi, and Jedi Outcast doesn\'t disappoint in this area as well. Many of the force powers like lightning are back from Dark Forces II. Once you train with Luke you will learn more force powers during your progress through the game.

Every force power and skill, including lightsaber combat and defense, exists in three stages. The skill begins at level one and as you progress you will build your skills to their pinnacle (level three). A level one lighting blast will shoot straight to strike one foe, but a level three blast will arc onto multiple enemies that are within range. By the time you are done you\'ll be yanking guns out of stormtroopers\' hands or even throwing them over cliffs with the smallest gesture. Jedi Outcast is definitely a growing process, but rewards gamers with a distinct feeling of accomplishment. Believe me, you\'ll get that warm fuzzy feeling the second you choke the life out of an enemy from across a room.

Jedi Outcast also offers a solid multiplayer option over the net. You can join servers that are already up and running or start your own. Starting your own server gives you control over things like the map, player limits, and whether force powers are involved. You can participate in anything from an old fashion death match to lightsaber-only duels. Jedi Outcast puts an interesting spin on the \"capture the case\" match. Instead, players will have to capture a Ysalamiri. This little lizard will squash all of the force powers of whoever is carrying it as well as make them immune to the force, making for some interesting matches.

By all accounts Jedi Outcast is a great game, but it does have some flaws that may tax gamers\' patience. As mentioned before, the first couple levels of Jedi Outcast leave something to be desired. You\'ll grow tired of running to this room to open that room over and over and over. Jedi Outcast has a generous helping of puzzles, which may hamper the action here and there. Later on this problem is much less apparent because of your contact with the force.

Controls in Jedi Outcast are a little slippery, though. All in all the control is quite functional. You can customize your keyboard and mouse settings to help offset the somewhat awkward default settings. You\'ll want to torch your keyboard the most during the game\'s jumping sequences, though. There are several very tough jumps you will encounter during Jedi Outcast. These jumps seem worthy challenges at first, but after all the dying due to the jump button not kicking in the second you need it, or making the jump only to \"slip\" off, you\'ll be crying for mommy.

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is by all accounts a beautiful and immersing experience. The level of painstaking detail present in all of the aspects of this game is impressive. You can really tell that Lucasarts and Raven Software cared a lot about making you feel at home within this game. While Jedi Outcast is not a revolutionary title, it is definitely a solid blueprint of what to do right. It is a great mixture of concepts we know and love, executed in one solid title. This is definitely a must-buy for Star Wars fans and even those who aren\'t fans should check it out.