Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Review


This Star Wars game was pretty much out of print for a very long time. Trying to get a copy for Gamecube is pretty tough since you’d need to spend around 100+ usually. Well, it finally got a re-release through Limited Run Games. This was a game I’d wanted to play for a very long time because it just looked pretty excellent. Well, now that I’ve played it, I have to say that unfortunately it was not nearly as good as I thought it would be. This title just ended up falling short of where it could have gone, mainly thanks to a lot of questionable level design choices.

The game follows a bounty hunter named Kyle. He used to be a Jedi but decided to step away from that world. He now relies purely on his gun skills to help him win the day. Unfortunately he runs into a Dark Jedi before long who murders his partner and runs off. Kyle must now avenge her and to do that he will have to relearn the Jedi arts. It’s time to take up the blade once more but will it be enough to defeat a Dark Jedi who possesses this much raw power?

Clearly even with the Empire gone there are still a lot of big problems plaguing the universe. The fact that a Jedi turned to the dark side so quickly is disheartening, particularly as he was even able to murder a few trainees. It feels like no matter what the Jedi do, the Sith are never too far behind. Luke actually gets to appear and even fight a bit during the game which was pretty cool. I will admit that it may not have been his best moment as he doesn’t look amazing here but I suppose he may have been a little out of touch. The actual story was a lot of fun though. It feels pretty cinematic and gives you a complete experience.

Unfortunately the gameplay is where the game falters quite hard. Initially this game plays out like a first person shooter. You try to blast your enemies but the aiming is crazy. Even if you and the opponent are not moving it can be really hard to land any kind of quality hit. As a result you’ll eat a lot of bullet fire. You can switch the camera to third person but until you have a Lightsaber I wouldn’t recommend that as it gets pretty tricky. Moving around can also be risky as you’ll run too fast and just fall to your doom. Every time you lose a life prepare to hear a pretty loud yell as Kyle goes to his doom.

Once you have a lightsaber at least the gameplay gets a step up there. It’s always fun to wield the blade and you do feel the power behind the blade. Even just grazing into someone while your lightsaber is active ends up doing damage which is a nice touch. That thing is as hot as fire so it should hurt you no matter how you make contact. Of course the game does take this a bit literal with even the final boss going down to a blow or two. It had to be one of the shortest final bosses I’ve played in a long time. There are also a number of glitches in the game like pausing too quickly which forces your character to run in circles or something like that. Another time I beat the guard too fast so he didn’t drop his security key and I had to restart the whole level from scratch. Let me tell you, that wasn’t a blast.

If the gameplay just being rather difficult and unfocused was all then this game would still end in the green. Unfortunately that was not the case. The biggest issue with the game is all the random puzzles it throws everywhere. Most of the time you won’t know where to go next at all. You’ll be stuck wandering around for ages and ages in each level until you eventually have to find out what is next the old fashioned away. One of the biggest examples of this is when you’re in the swamp level. You have to actually go underwater into a cave at one point. Good luck figuring out that you’re supposed to do that. Especially when in that same level there is a whole fake passageway leading to a new area that ultimately turns out to be a dead end. The game seems to be intentionally trying to mislead you. This happens in almost every level so the game took way longer than it should have. It was an easy 10+ hour experience but if you take away the wandering in circles phase then this would be several hours shorter.

So at the end of the day the game’s biggest failing here is that it’s just not fun most of the time. It’s an example of a game where you are purely playing for the plot. The hope is that the plot will be enough to overshadow the gameplay. It’s too bad because the lightsaber stuff is fun. A bit glitchy as well but at least enjoyable. I liked using the Force abilities like super speed and lightning as well. Once you fight like a Jedi it’s hard to go back to the gun techniques. So if you take the combat gameplay and put it into a more linear game or one that simply had better level designs, then you would really be set here.

The graphics have aged well to this day. As you’re running around the various levels you get to see some pretty nice lightsaber moves. The bullets from the minions are solid and the cutscenes are good. Some of the areas aren’t very well lit though. If you run out of energy for your night goggles then you may be in trouble though. Additionally you may run across a level like the swamp every now and again which doesn’t look very good. So I guess for level design it’s a case by case basis. The soundtrack is a little on the subdued side. Occasionally you will get one of the classic Star Wars movie themes which is always fun to see though.

In terms of replay value I wouldn’t say there is much to be found here. Once you beat the game that is basically it. Fortunately you can try to get the Platinum in this game which will mean beating the game at least twice unless you try to beat it in that mode the first time. I will say that the game is impressively difficult though so don’t expect this to be a walk in the park. I ended up playing the game on Padawan mode and even then I must have died hundreds of times. One thing you’ll want to keep an eye out for is using the access points. If you try to rely on the game’s checkpoints then you are going to be in for a tough time. With the access points though you can ensure that you are on the right path from start to finish. Just be careful where you save of course but it’ll save you a ton of time in back tracking. Sometimes there is no checkpoint for 10-15 minutes so if you die that can be pretty tough.

Overall, Star Wars tried some good gameplay elements here but in the end it just didn’t quite pan out. There are many levels here where you just feel completely doomed and will be lost for ages. The story was really solid though which keeps the game at the middle. It’s always nice seeing the universe after the trilogy. There’s just a lot you can do in that era and it’s one of the best parts of the Star Wars lore. I’m expecting the next Star Wars title to beat this one pretty quick. In theory as long as you take away the mazes and focus on combat then you should be good to go.

Overall 5/10

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