ⓘ Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is a first and third-person action game in the Star Wars: Jedi Knight series released in 2002. The Microsoft Windows and OS X versions were developed by Raven Software, and the Xbox and GameCube versions by Vicarious Visions and published by LucasArts with the OS X version was published by Aspyr. Powered by the id Tech 3 game engine, the game primarily revolves around ranged and melee combat, with the player capable of wielding classic Star Wars weapons such as blasters, lightsabers and Force powers.
The game features both single-player and multiplayer modes. The story-driven single-player campaign is set in the Star Wars expanded universe two years after the events of Mysteries of the Sith. The plot follows Kyle Katarn as he fights against the Dark Jedi Desann and his followers. The game was critically well-received on all platforms, with scores on Metacritic of 89 out of 100 for the PC version, 81 out of 100 for the Xbox version, and 75 out of 100 for the GameCube version.
In 2003, a sequel titled Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was released for the Xbox, Mac OS and PC. In 2006, the PC version of Jedi Outcast was re-released with four other Star Wars games in a pack entitled Star Wars: The Best of PC. On September 16, 2009, the game was re-released with the other Jedi Knight games onto Steam and Direct2Drive. A Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 port with no multiplayer mode was announced on September 4, 2019; with a release date of September 24, 2019.
Jedi Outcast allows the player to wield a variety of firearms from the Star Wars franchise, as well as lightsabers and Force powers. The player can choose whether to use first or third-person perspective for each weapon, including the lightsaber. Combat is standard for the shooter genre, offering players an array of energy and projectile weapons, plus a variety of explosives. Players have health and shield meters, each of which is replenished separately.
Jedi Outcast places a strong emphasis on lightsaber combat. As in the films, lightsabers can be used to deflect shots from blasters. The game offers three lightsaber styles; fast, medium and strong, with each style differing from the others in terms of the speed of attacks and damage dealt. There are also a number of combos, many of which are unique to the selected saber style.
Force powers are available in both single-player and multiplayer modes, but more powers can be used in the latter. The use of powers is restricted by a "Force Meter", which depletes with each use and gradually refills over time. The "level" of a Force power determines the strength of that power and the amount depleted from the Force meter during its use. The multiplayer mode divides players into Light Siders and Dark Siders, pitting each side against the other in team battles. Each side has access to both shared "Neutral" Force powers, which are mostly focused on increasing speed and athletic ability. There are also numerous powers unique to both Light and Dark sides. As in the previous games, Light Side powers are mainly focused around protection and healing, while Dark Side powers are openly aggressive. Unlike previous games, however, Kyle does not exclusively select Light or Dark powers in the single-player, instead receiving a selection of both.
1.1. Gameplay Single-player
The single-player campaign follows Kyle Katarn as he moves through the levels in a linear manner, meeting friendly and hostile non-player characters NPCs. Friendly NPCs will occasionally assist the player in combat. In addition to combat, the campaign features a variety of puzzles.
When the game starts, Kyle has forsaken The Force after the events of the previous game, and as such, the player has no access to a lightsaber or any Force powers. However, after the first two missions, Kyle regains his Force abilities. As the game progresses the number of powers available, and their strength, increase. Progression of Force abilities is fixed, and cannot be customized. Having previously fallen to the Dark Side, Kyle has access to both Light Side powers such as Force Heal and Jedi Mind Trick and Dark Side powers such as Force Lightning and Force Grip, along with neutral ones.
1.2. Gameplay Multiplayer
Jedi Outcast features a set of multiplayer modes. In the PC and Macintosh versions, these can be played over a LAN or the Internet, but combat is limited to two players on the console versions. There are a variety of game modes such as "Free-for-All", "Team Deathmatch" and "Capture the flag" which can be played with other players, bots, or both. Each player has limited customization control over his or her avatar. He or she can choose the player model with access to nearly every character in the game, as well as some characters from the films not seen in the single-player mode and lightsaber color. Before a match, the server specifies the game rules, including "Force ranking", which controls how many points the players have available to allocate into Force powers. Players then customize their powers for the match. The server can also choose to disable normal weapons so as to create lightsaber-only matches.
2.1. Plot Setting and characters
The single-player game is set in 12 ABY, eight years after the events of Return of the Jedi and around two years after the events of Mysteries of the Sith. As with Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, the player controls Kyle Katarn voiced by Jeff Bennett, a former Jedi who has cut his links with the Force after almost succumbing to the Dark Side. At the start of the game he is a mercenary working for the New Republic.
Over the course of the game, Kyle is joined by various other characters. Three of the most prominent are Jan Ors Vanessa Marshall, a fellow mercenary and subsequent love interest; Lando Calrissian Billy Dee Williams, the sophisticated administrator of Cloud City, as seen in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi ; and Luke Skywalker Bob Bergen, leader of the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. The player also receives help from other Jedi and New Republic soldiers, while Mon Mothma Carolyn Seymour, Chief-of-State of the New Republic, assigns Kyle and Jan missions during the game.
There are four main enemies: Desann Mark Klastorin, a former student of the Jedi Academy, who killed a fellow student before leaving the Order; Tavion Kath Soucie, Desanns apprentice; Galak Fyyar Steve Blum, an admiral in the Imperial Remnant; and Reelo Baruk Kevin Michael Richardson, a crime lord posing as a "respectable garbage collector" on Nar Shaddaa. Other enemies include Imperial stormtroopers, numerous thugs and soldiers infused with the Force known as the "Reborn".
2.2. Plot Synopsis
The game begins with Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors investigating a supposedly abandoned Imperial outpost on Kejim. However, when they arrive, they find the base crawling with Imperial forces. They fight their way through the base, discovering a research center studying crystals similar to those used to power lightsabers. Tracing the crystals origin, Kyle and Jan travel to Artus Prime, a mining colony turned into an Imperial stronghold, where the miners have been enslaved and experimented upon. Katarn thwarts the Imperial operations, but not before Jan is captured by the Dark Jedi Desann and his apprentice Tavion. Kyle tries to rescue her, but, having forsaken the ways of the Jedi, he is easily defeated by Desann, who orders Tavion to kill Jan before they leave the planet.
With Jan dead, Kyle travels to the Valley of the Jedi a major plot element in Dark Forces II to regain his Force powers, and then to the Jedi Academy to get his lightsaber. There, he learns of Desanns origins from Luke Skywalker. Luke offers Kyle his lightsaber back if he can complete a set of trials. Kyle completes the trials easily, so easily that Luke quickly deduces Kyle has returned to the Valley. Sensing Kyles anger about the death of Jan, Luke warns Kyle that the path he is walking is a dangerous one, but he nevertheless gives Kyle the information he seeks, linking Desann to Reelo Baruk, a Rodian crime lord on Nar Shaddaa. Reelo proves to have little information, but Kyle stumbles upon Lando Calrissian, who has been imprisoned in Baruks dungeons. From Lando, Kyle learns that Desann is a part of a huge operation smuggling cortosis, a lightsaber-resistant material, through Cloud City. Escaping from Reelo, Kyle and Lando then head for Bespin.
Lando drops Kyle off at the bottom of Cloud City, and as he works his way up the structure he has his first encounter with a Reborn. He subsequently fights several Reborn, plus numerous Remnants, until he eventually encounters Tavion, who is about to board a ship headed for Galak Fyyars Star Destroyer, the Doomgiver. Kyle defeats Tavion and threatens to kill her, but Tavion pleads for her life, telling Kyle that Jan is alive and on board the Doomgiver. Jans faked death was just a ploy to trick Kyle into going to the Valley of the Jedi in order for Desann to follow him there and tap its power. In exchange for her life, Tavion lets Kyle use her ship to travel to the Star Destroyer.
After fighting his way past some stormtroopers at the Cairn Installation - an Imperial base hidden on an asteroid in the Lenico Belt, where the Doomgiver is docked - Kyle meets up with Luke Skywalker. From Luke, Kyle learns that Desann has found the Valley of the Jedi, and used its energy to empower an army of Reborn which could number in the thousands. After battling several Reborn together, they part ways. Kyle then sneaks across the Cairn base and finds out it is also a large assault ship construction facility, which is preparing for a full-scale planetary assault. Kyle confronts more Reborn, including "Shadowtroopers" - Reborn equipped with armor which is both lightsaber-resistant, and allows a measure of invisibility. Kyle manages to sneak into the Doomgiver before the ship leaves Cairn, but Luke is left behind. After the Doomgiver completes its jump to hyperspace, Kyle uses the ships communications array to contact Rogue Squadron. He finds Jan in the detention block, but then learns that Desann was not specifically interested in the Valley of the Jedi - instead his goal all along was to invade the Jedi Academy. Kyle destroys the Doomgiver s shield reactor, and kills Galak Fyyar. Narrowly escaping the ships destruction, Kyle and Jan use an escape pod to land on Yavin IV.
With the invasion fully underway, Kyle heads to the Jedi Academy, while Jan goes to a hangar to assist in the aerial battle. Kyle soon finds the academy overrun with Imperial forces, but with the help of the New Republic troops, he fends them off. Together with Jedi Academy students, he engages in a fight against Reborn warriors and Shadowtroopers. After crossing tunnels, Kyle finally confronts Desann. He reveals the Doomgiver s destruction and the defeat of the Imperial forces, but Desann rejects Kyles offer to rejoin the Jedi and they engage in a lightsaber battle. Kyle prevails and kills Desann. He subsequently reunites with Luke and Jan, and politely rebuffs Lukes offer to safeguard his lightsaber, saying he is not ready to forsake the Force again.
On May 17, 2001, at E3 2001, LucasArts announced that Raven Software were developing a third game in the Jedi Knight series. Some plot details were given, such as the locations visited in the game; Cloud City, Yavin IV, Smugglers Moon and some planets original to the game. The following day at E3, LucasArts gave a demonstration of the game, showing the lightsaber and Force combat as well as the "buddy" system: in which certain NPCs would fight alongside the player. Technical details were also revealed: the game would use id Softwares Quake III Arena engine, and the GHOUL 2 animation system, seen in Ravens Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix. The polygon capacity of the engine had also been doubled. The game was also on display at ids QuakeCon 2001, where enemy AI and combat were demonstrated. LucasArts announced that the game would feature multiplayer, although due to being early in development little information was revealed.
On July 17, 2001, multiplayer developer Pat Lipo made a post on his.plan file, revealing that Rich Whitehouse had been brought onto the development team to handle development of the games multiplayer bots. Whitehouse moved on to tackle the entirety of the games multiplayer codebase, and was subsequently credited as the games sole multiplayer programmer.
On January 16, 2002, LucasArts launched a new website for Jedi Outcast featuring an overview of the game and information regarding characters, weapons and Force powers. An FAQ, screenshots, concept art, images of player models and downloadable wallpapers were also available. A teaser trailer was released on February 8, showing the games combat, weapons, characters and environments. On March 13, 2002, LucasArts announced that the game was on track for release later in the month. Two days later, they announced Jedi Outcast was ready for release, set to go on sale by March 29. A new trailer was also released.
3.1. Development Release
Jedi Outcast shipped on March 26, 2002.
The games SDK was released on April 22, 2002. This included a level editor, map compiler, model viewer, and shader editor and viewer. Since its release, hundreds of mods have been submitted to sites such as FileFront. A 66 MB demo of the game was released on May 10, 2002, featuring the same level shown in an incomplete form at E3 2001, which did not feature in the final version. Two patches were subsequently released: version 1.03 and 1.04.
At E3 2002, LucasArts announced that Jedi Outcast would be released on the GameCube and Xbox. On May 31, 2002, LucasArts and Aspyr announced that a Macintosh version of the game would be released. The Mac version was released on November 5, 2002, and the Xbox and GameCube versions on November 19 in North America and three days later in Europe.
On November 15, 2006, LucasArts announced that Jedi Outcast would feature with Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: Republic Commando and a 14-day trial of Star Wars Galaxies in a compilation release entitled Star Wars: The Best of PC. It was released during the 2006 holiday season.
A Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 port was announced on September 4, 2019; with a release date of September 24, 2019.
3.2. Development Source-code release
Following Disneys decision to close LucasArts on April 3, 2013, the developers at Raven Software released the source code for the game on SourceForge under GNU GPLv2 licensing. A few days after release, the source code disappeared from SourceForge without explanation. SourceForge later explained to media outlet Kotaku that Raven Software had requested its removal. Kotaku speculated this was due to the presence of licensed code, such as for the Bink Video format from Rad Game Tools, that was not intended to be made public.
However, prior to the removal a fork called "OpenJK" was created on GitHub with the problematic code parts already excised. The goal of the OpenJK community project is to "maintain and improve Jedi Academy + Jedi Outcast released by Raven Software." This includes the unification of the Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy engines, maintaining the compatibility of previous releases, and providing source ports for Mac and Linux. Daily builds for Windows and early Linux builds are already available.
4.1. Reception PC
In the United States, Jedi Outcast s computer version sold 390.000 copies and earned $17 million by August 2006. At the time, this led Edge to declare it the countrys 39th-best-selling computer game, and best-selling Jedi Knight computer title, released since January 2000. Combined sales of all Jedi Knight computer games released during the 2000s, including Jedi Outcast, reached 920.000 units in the United States by August 2006. Jedi Outcast s computer version also received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association ELSPA, indicating sales of at least 100.000 copies in the United Kingdom; and a "Gold" certification from the Verband der Unterhaltungssoftware Deutschland VUD, for sales of at least 100.000 units across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The PC version holds an aggregate score of 89 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on thirty-five reviews.
Game Informer scored the game 9.5 out of 10, with reviewer Andrew Reiner calling it "the quintessential Star Wars game and a feast for all FPS devotees." He also wrote, "without question, Jedi Outcast is the most enjoyable and accomplished Star Wars game yet." He was also extremely impressed with multiplayer, calling it "a highly addictive, over-the-top experience that all FPS players must see to believe." Brian Gee of Game Revolution gave the game an A-. He praised how authentically Star Wars the game felt, as well as the lightsaber interface, writing "Ive played a ton of Star Wars games in my time, and I dont think any of them can match the excitement and fun of lightsaber play in Jedi Outcast."
IGN were also impressed, scoring the game 9 out of 10 and giving it an "Editors Choice" award. Reviewer Steve Butts lauded the "tightly written, mature plot," and wrote "not only is this one of the greatest Star Wars games Ive ever played, its one of the best action games period." He also commended the "fantastic" graphics and "intelligent" level design, although he was critical of the puzzles, the lightsaber interface, and complained that "the game starts too slowly." GameSpot also scored the game 9 out of 10 and, like IGN, also gave it an "Editors Choice" award. Reviewer Amer Ajami echoed IGNs criticisms of the "slow start" and "too much puzzle-solving." However, he was very impressed with the interface, arguing "never before has melee combat in a shooter been so effectively executed," and he concluded by saying "the games strong points - especially its combat - overshadow whatever problems Jedi Outcast may have early on," calling it "simply one of the easiest games to recommend this year."
Game Over Online gave the game 93%, calling it "an intriguing juxtaposition of pieces of incredibly intense FPS action that had me on the edge of my seat combined with puzzle-like sections of such opacity that they made me want to kill myself." Entertainment Weekly gave it an A, stating that "the Force is strong with this one." Maxim, however, gave it an eight out of ten and stated that "The Force is strong with this polished first-person shooter."
In a negative review, X-Play criticized the game as a "disturbance in the Force." Although reviewer Jason DAprile called the story "pretty good," the graphics "fantastic" and the audio effects "just right," he complained that the level design "succumbs to the Dark Side," citing "illogical and frustrating situations." He also considered the multiplayer mode "not very impressive" and gave the game 2 out of 5 stars. Eurogamer were also underwhelmed, scoring the game 7 out of 10. They criticized the slow start, the lightsaber interface and the AI. However, they did commend the atmosphere and some of the level design. They concluded that Jedi Outcast is a rather patchy game, with moments of genius let down by a lack of consistency. The guns are derivative and rarely used once you get hold of your lightsaber, the melee combat clumsy and chaotic, the AI poor and some of the locations derivative and poorly designed."
In June 2007, GameTrailerss list of the 10 best Star Wars games saw Jedi Outcast rank at number one, with the editorial commenting that "This was certainly not the first time players had the opportunity to play as a Jedi in a video game, it was the first time you actually felt like one." They also praised the lightsaber and Force combat systems, a story which they felt was consistent with the films, and the cameos from some key Star Wars characters namely Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian.
Jedi Outcast was nominated for Computer Gaming World s 2002 "Action Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The editors wrote, Jedi Knight II is a blast, and the force powers and lightsaber control are perfectly executed." However, they found it too lacking in originality and consistency to win the award.
4.2. Reception Xbox and GameCube
The Xbox version holds an aggregate score of 81 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on twenty-four reviews. The GameCube version holds scores of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on seventeen reviews.
The Xbox version was described as "truly fantastic" by the Official Xbox Magazine, who scored it 9 out of 10. IGN were also impressed, scoring it 8.8 out of 10 and calling it "the best Star Wars experience on the Xbox". Reviewer Aaron Boudling praised how the controls had been mapped onto the Xbox Controller, but was highly critical of the games lack of support for Xbox Live, and the absence of an online multiplayer mode. He also felt the graphics in the cutscenes were significantly weaker than the PC version. GameSpot scored it 8.3 out of 10, with reviewer Amer Ajami saying the port "retains the essence of what it must feel like to be an all-powerful Jedi, which was so well conveyed in the original PC game, without sacrificing much in the way of graphics, playability, or overall value. In fact, the games complicated control scheme is better served on an Xbox controller than it is in the PCs typical mouse and keyboard setup." However, he too criticized the lack of Xbox Live support and the poor graphical quality of the cutscenes. Game Revolution gave the game a B+, praising the controls and atmosphere, but criticizing the AI and lack of Xbox Live support. Eurogamer were as unimpressed with the Xbox version as they had been with the PC version, scoring it 6 out of 10. Reviewer Kristan Reed found a lot of the problems with the game to be inherent to the original, not problems with the port - a slow beginning, poor AI, bad level design, repetitive puzzles. Reed called the lack of Xbox Live support "plain unacceptable" and concluded Jedi Outcast is certainly an entertaining package when it gets things right, but its also riddled with design flaws, technical flaws and various minor irritations that conspire to detract from your overall enjoyment. Given that its also not Live or even LAN enabled, Xbox owners dont even have that crumb of comfort to elevate its status."
GameSpot scored the GameCube version 8.2 out of 10. As with the Xbox version, Ajami was critical of the cutscene graphics, but concluded that Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast makes a fine addition to the Nintendo consoles gradually growing list of action games." GameSpy gave the same version three-and-a-half stars out of five. Reviewer Scott Steinberg was critical of the games slow start and the nature of some of the puzzles. Of the port, he wrote "This game was an award-winning game on a prior platform, so youd be in the right to demand more. But from the perspective of a GameCube owner just getting your first taste of the galactic goodie that is the Jedi Knight series, things could have been a lot worse If youre a multi-console owner, get the superior Xbox version to see a better realized port." Nintendo World Report scored it 6 out of 10, also citing the inferior controls and poorer graphics than the PC and Xbox versions; Jedi Outcast ends up being a pretty terrible port of an excellent PC title. The trick to enjoying the GameCube incarnation will be coming to terms with the control and graphic inadequacies in the game and then being able to make yourself get over the "hump" so that you can enjoy the meat and potatoes of the whole experience."