Written by  :  RussS (821)
Written on  :  Dec 27, 2009
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars

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A slightly bland FPS that attempts to feel the force.

The Good

Jedi Outcast tries to repeat the formula used in it's predecessor Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, which leads it into a problem. This is a sequel, so err, why does our loveable Han-and-Luke merger Kyle Katarn have to go back to not being a Jedi Knight, only to gradually pick up the Force powers again? Well the solution is kind of plausible for those who have played Mysteries of the Sith (Jedi Knight's add-on pack) when Kyle turned to the Dark Side briefly. Now in Outcast, Kyle's renounced the Force and gone back to his old mercenary ways.

The story is quite humdrum and clunkily scripted as Kyle and his faithful side kick Jan Ors are sent on a mission to investigate yet another remnant of the Empire, vying for power in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi. How many Star Wars stories can there be involving mopping up the remains of the Empire? The first half of the game plays similar to the original Dark Forces, despatching wave after wave of Stormtroopers and running around levels that have clearly been designed for FPS use rather than as actual locations. Switches are left in strange places and there's not a toilet in sight. Unfortunately the plot is progressed through poorly executed cut-scenes rendered in the game engine. I don't know why a developer would think you'd want to watch some choppy animated characters gesticulating wildly in conversation. Whilst it didn't blend in with the in-game graphics, I preferred the predecessor's FMV. Whilst you're in control little plot is progressed, leaving a swath of fairly vacuous killing to be done with difference only stemming from your method of taking people out. No stealth and no need to track down or talk to a character, the levels are all linear so it's hard to take a wrong step.

The game picks up significantly later as you once again don the mantle of a Jedi Knight, complete with a training lesson in the Force from Luke Skywalker. From here on in the game becomes more interesting to play as you gain a lightsaber and Force powers, enabling you to despatch the Stormtroopers in more colourful ways. As you progress through the levels you gain more and better powers until you'll probably stop using those clumsy blasters in favour of pulling and pushing enemies around with the Force. To make sure your lightsaber sees some use you have many set piece duels against the Reborn, some handily Force infused colonists who for reasons unknown unanimously chose the Dark Side. Behind these guys is Desann, a Sith who rather predictably has become a huge threat to the New Jedi Order.

The game is really all about these fights as you pull a variety of cool-looking moves in your duels, tackling multiple Reborn and generally practising the art of combat. Raven, the developers, have focussed on creating the most honed FPS experience in the Star Wars universe.

The Bad

That finely honed FPS experience is also the cause of the game's major problem, it is crafted but hollow. The story and the motivation is paper thing and poorly scripted, the in-game play just doesn't feel like Star Wars, it's purely shooting and overcoming minor puzzles.

The story, as mentioned, is a rehash of Jedi Knight as you first fight without the Force, then later with it. Whereas in the previous game it felt natural to learn the Force, this seems silly, especially as Kyle 'regains' the Force by stepping into a magic 'beam' to suddenly gain his powers. He has to fight against yet another group of Dark Sith, who have been created by Desann. Why is it every Dark Lord must be an alien (compared to all the Jedi in the game being human) and have an outlandish costume? The information about the Dark Side seems to be remarkably common knowledge, as there's a never ending stream of Dark Lords to threaten 'the very existence of the Jedi.' His force of Reborn seem all soulless cannon fodder for to practice your chopping skills, with no character and far too numerous. With the sheer amount of fighting done the Jedi seem to be the most bloodthirsty people imaginable, not 'keepers of the peace', Katarn can never approach things subtly, everyone must die. There's never any clever scripting or any missions which aren't completed without violence, which is a real shame.

The scale of the game follow FPS conventions more than is needed. Kyle becomes the typical one-man army who by the end of the game must have a body count in the thousands, I don't know why the New Republic would need anyone else. The Imperial Remnant seem to have access to amazing resources for a fugitive band, able to build a vast ship (for you to destroy) and to tackle the New Jedi head-on, it's all implausable, especially when a tight story figuring rag-tag Imperial remains could be told dramatically.

The Bottom Line

Raven obviously spent a long time designing each level but they seem to have missed the bigger picture. Instead of a fun engaging adventure Jedi Outcast is a slightly dull repetitive shooter, lightened by Force powers as you become a violence obsessed killer Jedi. With more focus on non-violent story elements Outcast could have reached a higher level.