How hard is it to make a really good Star Wars game, that captures the spirit of the original films? To take the idea of blasters and lightsabers, and to compact that into an experience which stands the test of time? Pretty damn difficult actually. Star Wars is a beast, a universe filled with so much action and lore that pleasing everyone is about as impossible as loving Jar Jar Binks. But in March of 2002, at least one game in the franchise set the bar impossibly high as it combined all manner of action into a tight package of Jedi on Sith action.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast picked up shortly after the events of Dark Forces II. The live action cutscenes were gone, the game engine was dropped in favour of the Quake 3 Arena engine and action was split across an arsenal of more elegant weapons and uncivilised blasters. Sweet Sith-spit, it was good. Damn good.
While the Dark Forces series had introduced lightsaber battling into a more three-dimensional space several years earlier, Jedi Outcast perfected the system. Sure, Katarn could run and gun his way across levels if players felt like it, but having a variety of Force powers at your disposal was magical stuff that other games had failed to properly recreate in digital form.
Force chokes, lightning, pushes and speed. Man, Jedi Outcast had it all. The crowning glory of the gameplay however, was proper lightsaber combat. Katarn would eventually reconnect with the Force, and pick up a new lightsaber and tricks to help him fight against the dark side of the Fao Schwartz. Wall-running, flips and various styles of swinging a blade of condensed plasma around the screen made for some epic duels. Now imagine all the glory of the Quake 3 Arena gunplay and twirling a lightsaber dangerously close to your face…in multiplayer.
The number of hours spent at LANs perfecting a lightsaber rush, were absurd for me. Even years after the game had shipped, it was still a firm favourite at parties, making for some magical moments of victory followed by congratulatory dick-punches from the losing side. One thing that’ll always stick with me however, is that Jedi Outcast possibly had the best Stormtroopers.
When you weren’t severing their limbs or obscuring their face with blaster fire, these fellas were downright deadly. They’d strafe you, work on ambushes and work as a team all in pursuit of the glory of the Empire. On higher difficulty settings, these guys could tear wannabe Jedi down in seconds. The beauty here is that Jedi Outcast is still a damn good game. And having Billy Dee Williams reprise his role as the smoothest rogue in the galaxy, Lando Calrissian, was just icing on the cake.
Hell, even the Jedi Academy expansion is worth a revisit, not for the rubbish story but for the fact that you could fine-tune a Jedi and send them into battle with a lightsaber staff or double up on the laser-swords and wreak havoc. Good times, in a galaxy far, far away.
Last Updated: May 4, 2016