Dark Forces II Jedi Knight (1997)
Price: $9.99 on GOG.com
This is another gem made by the now-defunct LucasArts. This game was released when I was seven years old. I didn’t play this until I was nine though. Don’t ask me why there was a delay. As I can’t quite recall. Jedi Knight, is one of those games that could very well be penultimate single-player gaming experiences when it comes to a FPS. This review is timely as the new Star Wars film is out, and these are sequels not prequels. This game was released fourteen years after Return of The Jedi, and the lightsaber footage shot for the games cutscenes was the first lightsaber footage shot since then. It certainly makes the game unique.
When it was first released, Ron Dulin argued that on Gamespot.com here, I believe our assertions are still true. Although, it is nineteen years old the game is dated but still fun at times. Although, when you’ve played it as much as I have, you memorize every path, every secret area, and sooner or later you’ve seen it all. And the enemy AI is dated. Not as bad as Outlaws, but certainly not as grand as the newer games on the market in our century.
This game is the second in the Dark Forces series of games which take place in the Star Wars Legends Universe formerly known as the Expanded Universe. The player’s character is Kyle Katarn, former contractor for the Rebel Alliance. He stole the Death Star plans and disrupted General Rohm Mohc’s Dark Trooper project in the prior installment of the series. Katarn is a hardened mercenary, a problem solver. He is investigating his father’s death, and discovers the force is with him in this game.
Katarn learns the force through the force ghost of Rahn, a Jedi Knight acquainted with his father. Katarn even wields Rahn’s lightsaber. Katarn must confront the Dark Jedi Jerec, not for vengeance but to also preserve peace in the galaxy as Jerec is pursuing the Valley of the Jedi, where his powers will be increased. The story is worthy of being made into its own Star Wars trilogy. With levels being set in Nar Shaddaa, Sulon, and starships, it is a very immersive gaming experience. My favorite levels are 3, 5-8. I enjoy the setting of Kyle Katarn’s homeworld. His homecoming was certainly turbulent.
Weapons in the game are varied: lightsaber, stormtrooper rifle, Wookie bowcaster, concussion rifle, and thermal detonators. These weapons each have a purpose in the game and allow the player to employ tactics that differ to the first installment of this series’ style of gameplay which was more run and gun. The player can chose a more tactical style of play in this game, and that is a prudent choice as the enemy placement has the player encountering more than just pairs of enemies. Whole platoons are engaged in later levels including: Stormtroopers, Naval Troopers, Mercenaries, and occasionally they are supported by enemy armor: AT-STs.
Levels are oftentimes linear later. Earlier levels though, are more sprawling and have the player confront puzzles or terrain based challenges. In some cases Force powers are a necessity and the Force Power system is similar to that of DeusEx’s (2000) and DeusEx Human Revolution’s(2011) augmentation systems. With this system implemented Jedi Knight is First Person Shooter with role-playing elements a la Borderlands. What is impressive about this game is that nineteen years later it still has an active modding community.
When I was in high school, one of my best friends and I would visit http://www.massassi.net/. This is the home of The Massassi Temple. The site is up and running and hosts all sorts of mods to the game. We were hooked on the single-player levels, and I to this day am more concerned with casual single-player gaming rather than multiplayer gaming due to this.
LucasArts made some gems, and Jedi Knight and its later expansion pack Mysteries of the Sith may be the jewels in their now defunct crown as they were dissolved in 2013. I will review Mysteries Of The Sith and Dark Forces at later dates. For now, why don’t you go to GOG.com and buy it? To convince you of the excellent storytelling present in this game I’ll include a link to all the cutscenes here. Do not watch them if you wish to avoid spoilers.
Your adventure begins in a Nar Shaddaa bar.