Katarn’s Apogee, A Review of Jedi Knight II by Brandon C. Hovey

Jedi Knight II (2002)

Developer: Raven Software (PC) Vicarious Visions (Xbox/Game Cube)

          Publisher: Activision

          Project Lead: Chris Foster

          Platforms: PC and others

          Price: I paid $40.00 for this game when it was released.

 

JKII box

 

                                           Katarn’s Apogee

In Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight’s expansion pack Mysteries Of The Sith, Kyle Katarn gives into the temptations of the dark side of The Force. That game’s co-protagonist  who will be mentioned eventually in a review of that game served as the change agent who turned him back to the Light Side.  After this traumatic experience Kyle steps away from the force and returns to his mercenary ways. He even helps out the Rebel Alliance just like in Dark Forces.

In the opening mission: Kejim Post, Katarn and his pilot Jan Ors are raiding the Imperial Remnant’s base on the planet’s surface. In this mission we soon see echoes of Dark Forces. Yet the game really does not improve or build off of Jedi Knight in terms of gamplay aside from having ‘battle buddies’ at certain times. Even Jan Ors joins the fight at times as a ground pounder instead of just chauffeur Katarn. As the story progresses after the discovery of the dark Jedi and their plot to restore the empire to its former glory, Katarn returns to the ways of The Force and becomes a Jedi. The player in control of Katarn has a rocky journey to save the fledgling New Republic from this threat. It is not as good as the first three games in the series. It has its high points though.

 

The number one high point are the settings and levels after completion of the first two. You visit Bespin, Nar Shaddaa, Yavin, and other locales. Bespin and Nar Shadaa are urban environments whereas Yavin and the first two levels proceeding it are remote Imperial strongholds. These cities don’t feel like cities though like the cities in Jedi Knight. My favorite levels are the Bespin and Nar Shaddaa levels as Katarn has to partner with Lando Calrissian who is voiced by Billy Dee Williams in this game. Also Luke Skywalker voiced by Bob Bergen makes an appearance fighting alongside Katarn.

Landocell
Lando!!

The levels  are good, and lightsaber equipped enemies pepper some levels making this FPS category on the game as a lose one as when the lightsaber is equipped the game enters a third person mode. Frankly the lightsaber  battles in this game are the number one improvement over the first Jedi Knight as the saber is now a 3D object. The other weapons are either recycled or new. The Flechette gun is a nice shotgun-like addition. The repeater gun was redesigned, and the Jawa gun is a ‘fun’ little toy to use on Imperial battle droids.

The story isn’t bad. But having a reptilian bad guy with a scantily dressed protégé is kind of just plain kitschy. I think Sariss from the first Jedi Knight had a more convincing wardrobe. They’re warriors not strippers. And the chief antagonist’s adversary’s protégé does not convey that. You fight her in the middle of the game and despite her ridiculous outfit she does fight well.

All in all, this isn’t a bad game. Although the story is weak, and the game plays fine, there’s likely better games you can spend your time with. I titled this review Katarn’s Apogee as this is truly the last game in the Dark Forces series with Kyle Katarn as the protagonist. I will only review Jedi Academy if my readers desire me to. I don’t consider that game to really be a part of the series as a whole due to Katarn no longer being the protagonist.

JKII box

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