LucasArts has been working with the Xbox since the release of Obi Wan
and Jedi Starfighter
. Now LucasArts is bringing over their PC hit, Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
over to the Xbox. It it worth ditching the PC version for or is it a good game to get into if it’s your first Jedi experience? Read on and find out.
When you first fire up the game, you are treated to an endless supply of credits. The game has the following companies behind it: Activision, LucasArts, Vicarious Visions and Raven Software. This is because Activision distributed the PC version of the game which was made by Raven who licensed the Quake III engine from id/Activision and the Xbox version was designed by Vicarious Visions. Got all that? Good.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the game. You’re brought to the game menu with the following options: New/Load Game (duh), Jedi Arena (for multiplayer and single player action with bots), options and extras (like cheats). Just to give you an idea of what’s in the game, let’s take a look at the fact sheet for all the hot action:
· The ability to save anytime, anywhere.
· Graphics and performance optimized for each system.
· 2 player split screen multiplayer (known as Jedi Arena) with up to 14 AI controlled characters (aka 'bots').
· Game modes including: Capture the Flag, Free for All, Team Free For All, Duel, and Jedi Master.
· A bonus single player mission called "Mission at Alzoc III" which is unlocked after the single-player game has been completed.
· A new exclusive multiplayer "Weapons Only" option for decidedly uncivilized combat.
And, just in case you need the back story on the game:
Several years have passed since Kyle avenged his father's death and saved the Valley of the Jedi from Jerec and his band of Dark Jedi. Allowing his Force powers to languish for fear of falling to the Dark side, Kyle set aside his lightsaber, vowing never to use it again. But when a new and menacing threat to the galaxy emerges, Kyle knows he must reclaim his past in order to save his future.
Before we get into the meat of the real game, let’s take a look at the Arena options, which are a very nice addition. At the start of the game, there are six scenarios: Free For All, Holocron, Jedi Master, Duel, Team FFA, Capture The Flag. The beauty of these options is that they are all customizable: you pick the map, time limit, kill limit, whether or not friendly fire will kill you and of course the number of bots in the game. Unfortunately Xbox Live is not supported so you’ll either have to invite your friends over, or go solo with the bots. Fortunately the bots aren’t all stupid and the game can be rather fun.
Jedi Master is one of my favorite modes. It’s more of a “capture the lightsaber/king of the hill” variety. You’ll see a clock showing how long you’ve been the master. The bots or other players will try to kill you and gain control of the lightsaber. Overall, it's quite fun and will probably become a quick favorite gamers.
Getting into the real game, there are three difficulty levels at the onset with another that is locked until you complete the entire game. It’s pretty much your typical first person shooter with some added challenges along the way, like walking through the gateways of death and figuring out the pattern so that you won’t die a la Star Trek
or even Galaxy Quest
While there is an added level to the game when you complete the ‘original’ PC game, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the PC version and the Xbox version, which is a testament to the Xbox. Where there is a big difference is with the controls of the game. As far as I’m concerned there is only one way to play a first person shooter – with a mouse and keyboard. I don’t care what console it is, if it’s not supported it sure does make targeting very very difficult. Jedi Knight 2 tries its hardest to make it work well, but it is still very frustrating when trying to target some of the enemies, especially ones that are far off in the distance. If you don’t like the default controls, you can change them, but not of them really give me the comfort level of the mouse and keyboard.
Now, if you’ve never played a PC first person shooter, you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, and that’s ok. If you’ve played Halo, Time Splitters
or anything else, you’ll probably feel comfortable – there’s a slight learning curve as you’ll have to remember to use your force powers, but other than that, you can get used to it. You'll learn how to use your force powers in a well-designed tutorial that teaches you the basics of force push, force pull, and all of the others. Vicarious Visions did do a nice job with the customization of the buttons, and it is very much appreciated.
As far as the levels go they are brought over very nicely from the PC game. Not much, if anything was left out. Graphics are very good with only a minor stutter or two when the screen is mobbed with people and projectile shooting. Pretty much all of the nuances of the PC game are here in the Xbox version. Puzzles like“jump and jump and jump to get the magic keycard” are still here in full effect.
Unfortunately one of the things not brought over from the PC to the Xbox was the internet multiplayer capability over Xbox live. You’ll only be able to play on a single Xbox with up to 2 (count ‘em 2) players, however you’ll be able to have bots all over the place for a pretty decent experience. Having only a 2 player game on a system that has 4 ports plus an internet capability is a real shame, but the 2 player game in itself is a lot of fun in all those modes – the only thing you’ll be thinking is “I wish I could hook up with more of my friends over Xbox Live, then this game would rock!”
Sound in the game is superb – typical Star Wars stuff here, but you have to really appreciate the score. The lightsaber exudes a slight hum that becomes more and more dynamic as it is wielded in action. Every weapon has its own sound that is very faithful to its cinematic counterpart.Of course there are nice touches like varying sound effects for your footsteps as you travel onto various surfaces – these little touches make the game a lot more immersive.
Vicarious Visions has done a superb job with the port with the exception of the online multiplayer. The game definitely won’t change your opinion of the PC version of the game – if you liked it, you’ll enjoy this one as well. If you weren’t a big fan of it, you will not be a big fan of this one. For me personally, I hedged on the PC version of the game. I hated the puzzles, but enjoyed the fast action. I have to admit, I’ve played this version of the game quite a bit more than the original, I’m not sure if it’s the ease of picking it up and playing or something else, but even with the controls, I have had fun. Highly recommended for Star Wars fans, you won’t be disappointed with Jedi Knight 2 for Xbox.
Vicarious Visions has done a superb job with the port with the exception of the online multiplayer. The game definitely wonâ€™t change your opinion of the PC version of the game â€“ if you liked it, youâ€™ll enjoy this one as well.