Brandon: Wow. It is just remarkable to admit this. I never thought I’d say this either. But, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight in its vanilla form is not worthwhile playing whatsoever in 2020. The mods are a different story, but there’s so much more out there in terms of FPS now. I can’t recommend this game anymore. Play 2003’s Jedi Knight II. Don’t bother with this or Mysteries of The Sith. It would be awesome if Night Dive Studios could remaster and enhance Jedi Knight. The story alone makes it worth preserving somehow. The mechanics of the game though are just downright dated. Duke Nukem aged better than this. I really recommend you play the Hrot demo on Steam. Dusk is worthwhile if you like Doom. And of course there’s Ion Fury, which is just epic!
Its sad to admit when something is dated, but here we are, where we are. This is it. Play something else. We are going to do that. This game once held my interest and imagination. Hence, why I recommend pursuing other games from here on out. Austin also mentions time.
Between graduate school, politics/government, and other life roles my gaming diet is reduced in a great quantity. I strongly recommend pursuing retro indies instead of bothering with this old game.
In hindsight, I can say though that the Dark Forces series helped influence my development as an author. Rod Veska is quite similar to Kyle Katarn, but he never has to carry the burden of being a Jedi.
Austin: I won’t say that Jedi Knight is an awful game or even unplayable, but, with limited time in the day to devote to gaming and an immense world of excellent games out there (many of which demand an hour or less of your time), I lost steam (no pun intended) on playing through Jedi Knight in the levels preceding the lightsaber battle with Maw. I’m not bothered by dated. Most of what I like is dated. Some of the most fascinating developments in indie gaming right now come from working within the self-imposed parameters of dated hardware and gaming styles. I am bothered by boring, though, and Jedi Knight just gets boring. My imagination must have been doing a lot of the work, because these level environments that I cherished so much seem empty and illogical these days. I think part of my reason for not playing further was to leave a little bit of the game behind the veil of nostalgia.
I don’t think I’ll be revisiting any of the other games in the series any time soon, though, if I had to choose one, I’d probably go for Dark Forces, simply because of its somewhat spooky minimalism. I agree with Brandon that the story of Jedi Knight remains strong, though I’m not sure how much even the best remaster would do with making the environments more interesting. When I think of my favorite early FPS games, the ones I revisit again and again, I think of games like Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, and Blood – Games with incredibly rich, incredibly varied, and pop-culture inspired levels. The modern-retro FPS games that Brandon mentions do a great job of embracing and improving on those games, and, more or less, leave the Jedi Knight-styled games in the dust.
As a final aside, before shelving Jedi Knight for the time being, I spent a little bit of time aimlessly wandering empty multiplayer maps. I can remember many late nights as a preteen and teenager exploring these 3D environments (and those found on the great JK modding sites). I caught a glimpse there of what I loved so much about the game and about first-person games in general – The feeling of being someone else exploring somewhere else. With the advent of the poorly-and-insufficiently-named “walking simulator” and microindies like No Players Left, I can leave these old worlds behind and explore new ones which bring me the joy and fascination I remember from my youth.