Game: Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of The Sith (1998)
Project Lead: Stephen Shaw
Purchased on Gog.com, a long time ago for a forgotten price
[NO IMAGES ARE MY OWN.]
This is a great time to discuss this game. Rogue One has been released in the theaters, and this is the last installment of the series to feature a game involving the hero who stole the plans in the Star Wars canon: Kyle Katarn , voiced by Rino Romano to be written on in this blog. This installment of the series is an expansion pack and in many ways it is a more finished version of Jedi Knight and in many ways a less developed version of Jedi Knight. This game is so good, I own three copies.
Background: This game is the expansion pack to Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight (1997). Both of these games are second generation first person shooters similar to Quake II (1997). There’s an immersive single-player experience for a gamer should they chose to pursue it with either game. And truthfully, out of the two games Mysteries of The Sith, has a weaker campaign, but better storytelling tools. These tools are: the characters, the settings, and the improved weapons.
Characters: Kyle Katarn is the hero of Dark Forces (1995), Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, and Jedi Knight II (2002). In Mysteries of The Sith, he unfortunately is the villain; which I personally thought was a poor way to continue his story as it more or less borrows from Dark Empire. Where Luke Skywalker becomes a dark jedi. Katarn’s story reaches a low point, and the wife of Luke Skywalker in the Expanded Universe, now Legends universe: Mara Jade is the person who turns him back to the light. Jade is voiced by Heidi Shannon.
Mara Jade debuted as a character in Timothy Zahn’s superb Thrawn trilogy. Jade is a former Imperial “Emperor’s Hand”, and a space pirate gone respectable a repeated line of hers in this game is “Pirates, I wonder if it is anyone I know.” Mara Jade, like Lara Croft is a strong female protagonist. The developers do not develop her character as much as they did Kyle’s which is unfortunate. However, I cannot tell them this in 1998, I do not have a time machine. Mara Jade could have had her own line of games, written by Zahn and developed by Justin Chin of the prior game’s fame. Unfortunately thanks to Disney’s acquisition of the franchise this is all now a pipe dream if there ever was one.
The Settings: The level design is okay. But the backdrop of these levels gives them character. Ever since the release of the first Star Wars film, this universe has become a part of world and American mythology. Han and Luke are our Achilles and Hercules, Leia is our Helen of Troy. We think about the intricacies of these worlds and we keep wondering pleasantly about our own lives and our own world. A game like Mysteries of The Sith provides a facilitation for your imagination as you ponder about Star Wars.
An asteroid superweapon, a rebel base under attack, a Hutt’s fortress, a prison escape, a rebel starship under siege by pirates, and seedy cantinas and bars in a planet’s spaceport city. The checklist keeps getting fulfilled when it comes to interesting components of the Star Wars universe being shown off in Mysteries of The Sith. The only level that really disappoints is Kaerobani’s base as we never see the owner of this fortress who caused so much grief for Mara and the Republic over the Holocron.
Improved Weapons: The usual Star Wars weapons are present. Blasters, concussion rifles, and bowcasters are all booming. Lightsabers are still humming and cutting too. Kyle still carries the Bryar Pistol. Mara has something different, a DL-44 blastech, the model Han Solo carried inspired by Winston Churchill’s C96 Mauser broomhandle. There’s some weapons added as well to the mix that are improvements over the ones in Jedi Knight, but I’m going to get right down to the weapon that makes this game a more finished and refined Jedi Knight. The Stormtrooper rifle with the scope.
Jedi Knight did not have any weapons with optics, mods were made to address this. Mysteries of The Sith, like Outlaws (1997) was one of the first games to feature a sniper scope. The sniper scope here is a force multiplier like it is in Outlaws. Mysteries of The Sith has some tight corridors and close quarters battles flare up in these corridors. In wide open spaces though, the scope allows the player to dominate the enemy with precise fire if distance is an issue.
Final Analysis: This is an excellent game that represents some great expanded universe storytelling. I’d recommend this if you are needing an excellent first person shooter with an immersive narrative. Or you could play this game if you just needed a dose of nostalgia from the now usurped canon of the Expanded Universe. After you finish both of the games you’ll want to acquire some mods and levels from The Massassi Temple. I’ll be discussing some of those levels in a future post.