This is the third title following the adventures of Kyle Katarn through the Star Wars universe. In the previous installment, Kyle learned to harness the powers of the force in order to defeat seven Dark Jedi that wanted to find the Valley of the Jedi and utilize its power to control the galaxy. After saving the valley, Kyle nearly lost himself to the dark side and because of this, decided to leave the force behind him and go back to doing mercenary work. Now, it is eight years later, and new circumstances will emerge, causing Kyle to once again become one with the force.
The game starts off with Kyle and Jan Ors being sent off by the New Republic to clear out an old Imperial base. For the first handful of levels, you will only be able to use a variety of blasters, charges, and thermal detonators. There are enhanced stormtrooper rifles, trip mines, charges you can detonate manually, and a wookie crossbow. Each weapon has two firing modes, both of which can be used effectively in battle.
Although, some of the weapons are the same, the gameplay is a little different than the previous Jedi Knight. You’ll still have a shield to protect your health, but there isn’t an auto-aim feature and your enemies are much tougher to defeat. They’ll strafe to avoid your blasts, duck behind objects, and even run for cover when injured. It’s a lot more fast-paced than its predecessor and takes some adjustment.
There are also a few additions to the gameplay that make it more interesting. When you kill Imperial officers, you can usually find security cards or supply cards on them that will open doors or supply crates. Some of the supply keys aren’t necessary, but will usually lead to obtaining an extra bacta tank to restore some health. There are a variety of other items you can find too, such as light-enhancement goggles, binoculars, and stationary gun turrets.
Another addition to the gameplay is more variety in the objectives. In one level, you’ll have to hold up an Imperial officer and get him to open up a door to free some slaves. In other levels, you’ll take control of droids in order to reach new areas or open locked doors. There is even a level where you can’t be seen or else you’ll set off an alarm, so you must find stealth methods for getting past your enemies.
To add to the fun of the adventure, there are a handful of levels where you get some backup. For instance, the first level, you and Jan work together. You’ll need her to decode some security terminals and unlock some doors for you as well as blast through the waves of stormtroopers you’ll encounter. Later on you’ll have missions where you’ll fight alongside groups of prisoners, soldiers, and even Jedi.
After a series of events occur, Kyle visits the Jedi Academy to reclaim his lightsaber from Luke Skywalker. After completing a trial, which acts as a tutorial on using force powers, Kyle sets off on the only lead he has to finding a Dark Jedi who has done the unspeakable to him.
You’ll only start off with only four force powers: push, pull, speed, and jump. Each power has three levels and they’ll automatically increase after certain missions in the game. As you progress, you’ll also acquire new force powers, such as heal, grip, and lightning. By the end of the game, all the force powers will reach the highest level.
In addition to force powers, there are also lightsaber powers. There are three levels for these as well, which include offense, defense, and throw. By the end of the game, you’ll have three offensive stances you can take with the lightsaber (medium, fast, strong), each having its own set of moves and strengths. The defensive attribute determines how well you can block back laser blasts. In the beginning, you just stop them, but by the end, you deflect them right back at the shooter. And finally, the throw attribute determines how much control you have over throwing your lightsaber, which is its secondary attack.
Once you have your lightsaber, you won’t want to give up on using the other weapons. The gameplay is balanced such that you’ll still need some heavy and long-ranged weapons despite your growing unity with the force. In fact, I’m a little disappointed with the lightsaber combat. The moves feel kind of slow and I never feel like I have enough control over the saber. There are times when I swear I’m putting the saber right through an enemy, but he’s still standing. Also, there isn’t a feature to lock-on to an enemy to allow you to focus more on your swings. It can be very difficult to aim your saber’s attack at an enemy, and a lock-on feature would have been much appreciated.
Besides that complaint, the single player portion of the game is outstanding. You’ll get to travel all over the Star Wars universe, from Yavin to Cloud City to Nar Shadda once again. The designs of these levels really reminded me of Jedi Knight’s levels, where you needed to look everywhere to figure out what to do next. There are also secret areas within the levels, where you’ll find numerous items awaiting you. Each mission is simply outstanding and really helps put you in the Star Wars universe.
To further your immersion into the game, the familiar musical scores from the original Trilogy are apparent throughout the game. You’ll hear the familiar bar music, the electrifying rhythm of combat music, and the dark melodies of the Empire everywhere in the game. The development team really did an exceptional job of bringing the Star Wars universe to life here, I commend them. Being able to interact with Luke and Lando was fantastic too.
Jedi Outcast also comes with a separate multiplayer feature, including bots to allow you to play solely on a local machine, although the bots are much more limited since you can’t give them orders. However, the bots are unique because they are aligned with other bots. For instance, Kyle’s bot is aligned with Jan and Mon Mothma. If a player kills either Jan or Mon Mothma, Kyle will look to “avenge” their death and even say something when they are killed. These alignments exist for all the main characters and are available through the Readme section of the game’s startup menu.
There are seven multiplayer game types built into the game with support for user-made MODs to be added easily. These default game types are Free-for-All, Team Free-for-All, Holocron Free-for-All, Jedi Master, Duel, Capture the Flag, and Capture the Ysalamiri. The multiplayer games have some more force powers available as well, such as absorb, protect, rage, and team heal.
The first two game types are based on killing the most opponents, whether solo or as a team. The Holocron is the same as Free-for-All except players start off with no force powers. In this version, users must pickup force powers throughout the level contained in holocron cubes. In regular Free-for-All and Holocron, you can enter into a lightsaber challenge with another player. No other players in the map can affect these two during the duel. The winner of the duel is granted full health (you can also end the duel by separating far apart).
Jedi Master is basically like King of the Hill. A lightsaber spawns somewhere in the level and whoever picks it up, gets every force power, full health, and only the lightsaber as a weapon. If you kill an opponent as the Jedi, you score a point. Otherwise, the only other way to score a point is to kill the Jedi. Once the Jedi is killed, the lightsaber will be up for grabs.
Duel allows only two players to combat each other at a time. Whoever wins the battle will then fight the next person in line. All other players not currently fighting can move their views around and watch the battle from any angle they wish.
Capture the Flag and Capture the Ysalamiri are very similar. The only difference is that when holding the ysalamiri flag, you won’t be able to use any force powers – this goes for your enemies too, which makes things a little more fair for opponents who could never catch someone using force speed while holding the regular flag.
Setting up multiplayer games is very intuitive and there are a lot of nice, built-in options for people during the game. For instance, you can call a vote to move to the next map or ban a certain player, allowing all the players in the map to vote. From the in-game menu, you can also add a bot, configure and save your force powers, join a different team or become a spectator, and edit your player.
Overall, Jedi Outcast is an excellent game. The developers built upon the existing gameplay standards created in Jedi Knight, enhancing every part of it to create a highly enjoyable experience that surpasses the original in every way. With top-notch graphics, incredible detail, and familiar Star Wars characters, the force is definitely with this game.