Jedi Academy

Review

posted 10/7/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
The bane of first person shooting games, the jump puzzle, does make a showing in this game at various times. You’ll come to a few that are do or die situations and you’ll probably be spending some time reloading the level. Thankfully, reloading the game on the same level is pretty quick but I still despise jump puzzles in these types of games. And since you can force jump to ridiculous heights, you’ll be seeing some crazy leaps that will have you floating in the air for a good amount of time. Just make sure you land it as you’ll usually end up falling to your death if you don’t when you come to those situations.

The game uses the aging Quake III engine and it’s starting to show. It was hard for me to find any improvements made over Jedi Outcast. Other engines are surpassing the old iD engine and if LucasArts decides to continue the series, I hope they look at licensing a newer engine for the next game. The models don’t look too bad and do a good job at reproducing the characters in the movies. If you enjoyed the look of Jedi Outcast, you’ll enjoy the look of Jedi Academy. Those looking for new eye candy will have to wait. The characters still suffer from skating as you’ll see them move but the feet won’t be in tune with how fast they are moving.

Level designs and textures are nicely developed. Most of the levels are logically designed and offer a good variety of places to do battle. From the planet of Hoth to Courascant to the desert landscape of a Sith lord tomb, the levels are laid out well.

The animations of lightsaber wielding characters are nicely crafted. Whether using the single saber, dual saber, or saberstaff, you’ll be treated to various acrobatic movements as you jump around. Watching the characters show that Raven did a great job in producing smooth movements. Through a combination of button presses, you’ll perform some attacking motion. You can even do some wall leaps to either get away or attack from an acrobatic move. While a nice thought and at times offering some cool moves, there are more than a few levels where you’re in a tight spot or near a ledge and you’ll accidentally do one of these wall moves to your death. I can’t tell you how many times I’m trying to jump away from an enemy only to see my character act like he’s Jackie Chan and float away from a ledge to the void below.

Saber combat with the two new styles still seem too random to me. I was never a fan of the lightsaber fights in any of the previous games as I felt it wasn’t controlled enough and the same can be said for Jedi Academy. The visuals when sabers clash, while impressive, make it hard to see if you land hits on your opponent. Whether I try to strategically use my moves or just button mash, the outcome seems to favor just charging and swinging away without hesitation or thought. Combine a saberstaff with force speed and you’ll pretty much take out anyone, including the bosses, in the game.

Enemy AI has never been a strong suite of the previous game and the same little annoyances still appear in Jedi Academy. More than a few times I’ll take out an enemy trooper only to have his partner stand there and not do a thing. There’s also a few times where I would stare at an enemy from the distance in plain site and he wouldn’t do a thing. A new one that I saw in this game is when you come against some followers of the enemy who possess force powers. They’ll usually leap around you and stay away as some don’t possess a saber to counter yours. If you’re fighting them on a bridge, and you will do a lot of that, you’ll probably see a few leap to their death when you approach them. I’ve even seen a few where I just stood there and hear them taunt me only to see them leap right off and hear their cry of pain. You will see some enemies run away and the enemies with force powers will use them to turn away rockets, grenades, and other projectiles so they’re not completely dumb. When attacking you, their tactics will consist mostly of charging straight at you guns or lightsaber blazing.

A new multiplayer feature is a class based option similar to Return to Castle Wolfenstein or Team Fortress. This will ensure that not everyone’s holding lightsabers as you’ll need different types of players to accomplish the goal. And of course there’s the traditional deathmatch and team battles that are the staple of every multiplayer capable first person shooter.

Through it all though, I feel the game doesn’t improve enough on the previous one to warrant the full price. While there are plenty of new missions and levels, I think this game could’ve been introduced as an expansion pack. Jedi Academy will appease Star Wars fans and fans of Outcast though. If you’re not a fan of Outcast, then there’s probably nothing new here that will draw you into the series.



C+
Fans of the previous game will probably like this installment but some same problems still plague the game and I think this game should've been released as an expansion pack.


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