Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Review
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast features Kyle Katarn, ex-Jedi Knight turned mercenary for the New Republic in a thrilling, classic adventure. It’s up to him to rid the Galaxy of the new evil plaguing it and it’s people. There are over a dozen different weapons to use throughout the game and some surprises to add a bit of variety to the gameplay. With two dozen levels to complete, you’ll be playing with lightsabers for quite some time.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away
Kyle makes for an interesting protagonist. Though not necessarily his fault, he’s devoid of most emotion and at times sounds like a generic one-liner action hero. I’m not going to harp on dialogue, voice acting, or story from a nearly 20-year-old game. Almost succumbing to the dark side in the previous game, Kyle has given up his way of the Jedi and is now assisting the New Republic as a mercenary. After a run-in with a former Jedi student turned sith, Kyle must make the difficult choice of returning to the Jedi and the force to stop the newly recruited sith. The story screams Star Wars from the opening roll down to the credits. It’s not great, but I’m not expecting it to be. I’m happy enough that cutscenes were fully voice acted, even if they’re subpar. What I will harp on is the gameplay.
Jedi Outcast plays exactly as it did back in 2002, which is not great by today’s standards. It has been objectively obliterated by the sands of time and ends up being a disappointing experience in 2019. The aim assist is glaringly noticeable while simultaneously unreliable, and the checkpoint system is poorly designed and underutilized. If that wasn’t enough, all of the tutorials reside in the manual. While a common addition to games in the early 2000s, manuals simply do not exist in 2019. I should not have to google the original manual to learn how to play this game. With all that said, I’m a sucker for lightsabers; they’re my favorite thing about Star Wars. Once Kyle regained his force powers and lightsaber, Jedi Outcast improved for me but wasn’t enough to keep me invested for the entirety of the campaign.
2002 was great for cutscenes.
2002 was not kind to Star Wars
In typical shooter fashion, players must get to the end of the level while killing every enemy stormtrooper before Kyle meets his demise. If this is your first time playing Jedi Outcast, prepare to restart a lot. Even during the first level, several multi-man firefights resulted in me starting a majority of the level from a checkpoint early on. Both poorly designated and underused, checkpoints aren’t checkpoints at all. Only a few times were they used correctly and not near the beginning of a level. And while the game uses save states which can be done anywhere, remembering to save is not common in 2019. Autosaving was created for a reason. Sessions turned heartbreaking after I ended up dying and realized I hadn’t saved. It extended my playtime, but in the worst way possible.
I eventually had to try the game on easy mode as I ran out of health way too quickly and at this point had no way of knowing how to get more of it. It was only after completing the first level I realized I may have to google a manual to keep playing, and I’m glad I did! Health and shield packs are easily overlooked if you’re not actively searching or don’t know how to use them. I realize this is a direct port, but I would have preferred some quality of life changes, on-screen prompts for interactions being one of them. I often found myself running around like a headless chicken, constantly mashing the action button against anything that looked remotely interactable.
Much like their movie counterparts, stormtroopers have a hard time aiming one on one!
Levels design from the past
Each new level presented new, more frustrating challenges. There’s no minimap so some memorization is required, but I have no issue with this. I love exploring any type of level in a game and discovering their secrets. My issues stem from progression points not standing out. In the first level, you’re required to blow up a reactor but said reactor looks the same as everything else and does not stand out. With no prompt letting me know I was on the right trail, this menial task to progress took a lot longer than it should have. This seems to be a running theme of this game.
I had to consult a guide, much to my chagrin, more than once just to figure out what to do next. I am anti-walkthrough to my core, but there were several instances after running around for half an hour, I was at my wits-end completely out of ideas. Eventually, I got used to the cryptic nature of the objectives and was able to figure things out on my own, but games simply aren’t designed like this anymore. This isn’t player-friendly and falsely lengthens the game for no good reason.
Too bad you can only have a blue lightsaber.
Finally being a Jedi
Jedi Outcast lets you be the Jedi you’ve always wanted to be. There are a multitude of force abilities to use, such as lightning, higher jumping, pushing and pulling enemies. Fighting the sith is the definitive best part of this game. The levels before becoming a Jedi were less enjoyable. I’m not a huge fan of shooters, so the first few lightsaber-less levels weren’t my favorites. Unless enemy storm troopers were stationary, I missed a lot more shots than I should have. I’m not a great shot by any means so I actively rely on it in single-player shooter campaigns. In terms of weapons, there’s a ton of variety, but they were rarely used because of the horrible aim assist.
Overall, I did not enjoy Jedi Outcast. It’s a long game, made longer by outdated design choices and the lack of any tutorialization. Still, it’s one of the only Star Wars games on the Switch. Playing as a Jedi is fun and paired with the music, brings back some nostalgia of the original trilogy. Aspyr is working on Jedi Academy set for release next year, and I could not be more excited. Jedi Academy is the superior title. Both of these ports give me hope Knights of the Old Republic II may be in our future. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you may end up liking Jedi Outcast for nostalgia alone. If you’re not and want to some great lightsaber action, hold out for Jedi Academy, the stronger title out of the two games in my opinion.
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Reviewed by Taylor on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Aspyr.