Written by  :  Sam Hardy (82)
Written on  :  Apr 13, 2002
Platform  :  Windows

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The force is strong in this one.

The Good

STORY: You play Kyle Katarn - a former imperial officer, turned mercenary, turned jedi and has now abandoned the force after falling to the dark side. So he's now a mercenary. He's teaming up with Jan Ors - his partner - and doing work for the New Republic. On a mission to an supposedly abandoned imperial base - that turns out to be full of imperials, Kyle gets swept up in a interesting plot that will force him to take up his lightsaber again.

MENU LAYOUT A spinning Jedi Outcast logo done in chrome reflects light in the right hand corner while the menu is written in Star Wars font - the type they use for the main title. Apart from that there are these clouds that have been stretched towards the logo. - It's pretty bare - but ok to look at. Holding your mouse over a menu item gives you a description of what it does on the bottom.

CONTROLS The default layout has all the items and so mapped - though their locations on the keyboard are questionable.

GRAPHICS Utilising the ageing Quake 3 engine Raven has done their magic again with another one of ID's gaming engines. The enemies are very detailed - right down to them all having four fingers and one thumb. The Stormtroopers look like they are off the movies and other alien races are bristling with detail. They've even made Luke Skywalker look pretty close to his movie counterpart. The weapons are nicely made as well - the stormtrooper rifle now looks correct - unlike in JK - and the newer weapons keep to the Star Wars universe pretty well. The Textures are huge - twice as large as Quake 3's. So there's lots of detail here. Bump mapping has not been placed in this game. Though some of the textures suffer from very obvious repeating and that kinda lets down the immersiveness of the game. Laser effects are just off the movie - with each laser having it's own light source and all. And who cannot forget the venerable lightsaber. It now looks like it's from the movie with its motion glows and all. Perfect. The animations in the game are.... Interesting. What I don't like is the fact that the lip sync is a bit off and the models all seem to be showing their teeth too frequently. Overall great care has been placed in the animations, from Stormtroopers falling over, then getting up, to the amazing acrobatics that the Jedis get up to. All have been motion captured well and show an amazing level of detail and realism. The weapon animations are a bit lacking most notable is the thermal detonator - it has no throw animation! It just falls out of your hand resulting in major damage and on some case death. This game also Utilises GHOUL - the accurate hit placement system. This means hit a stormtrooper in the arm and they react to this. The same goes to when you slice off their hand with the saber - they clutch their stump screaming, as they slowly die - nice one. Lightning is done really well too - it's just like in the movies with it splaying over the target. Also they have done a good job with the binoculars - they look just like in the movie.

SOUND From lightsaber hums to droid beeps, all the classic Star Wars sounds have been implemented here. And all sound really good. Though it does get a bit repetitive with the same weapon sounds over and over again. The sounds of computers beeping and so forth are also well done as are the door sounds. Voicing is another lukewarm area. Some of the voicing is good - most notably Billy Dee Williams repriseing his role as Lando Calrissian - with his charm still there. The impersonators for Luke Skywaker is pretty good as with the Mon Mothma impersonator. The leads are reasonably well too. And a couple of the bosses seem to have been gifted with a Darth Vader like voice. But apart from that overall the voicing is good enough. Though the 3P0ish droid sounds very not like 3P0. What is also interesting to hear is the Stormtroopers chat on about their lives, weapons and so forth - some conversations are pretty funny.

GAMEPLAY This is a mixed bag. Firstly the weapons are not that interesting. A lot of focus has been placed on the lightsaber so it shines as the jewel of this game because it is an offensive and defensive weapon as well as having an long range attack with "Force Saber Throw" The Bryer pistol you start off with is slow and unwieldily - a bit too slow if you ask me. But the charge up shot kinda makes up for this. The Stormtrooper rifles is fairly accurate at close ranges - but don’t go expecting you'll be able to pick off people from a fair distance. Its secondary rate of fire turns it into a machine gun of some sort. The disruptor rifle is the sniper rifle of this game - and it seems to have found it's way into the hands of every Rodian this side of Tatooine. It is very weak but has a charge up function that disintegrates the target - a bit too Trek if you ask me. The Wookie Bowcaster returns from the JK - the same as ever - which is a pity as it is generally ignored. The heavy repeater is your heavy machine gun. Fast and brutal - with a very large secondary fire splash damage attack. The EMP gun is very useful against anything robotic - like turrets and probe droids. But that all it seems to do. Pretty disappointing. The Flechette is the game's shotgun - firing little hot balls of metal everywhere. It also has a secondary mine function that is annoying to encounter. The Portable missile launcher is fast and underpowered - it takes a few hits to destroy a robot with this thing. The levels in this game are also interesting - some areas are chock full of detail - others are just square rooms. The areas that you are on are represented well - from the rainy well-detailed swamps of Yavin to the large curvy buildings of Bespin. Some areas - mainly outdoors do chug in fps slowdown - but overall they maintain a good Star Wars feel. Though the design of them is questionable - most levels loop back on them and you do find yourself getting lost on a few occasions. Other levels are pretty linear - especially the At-St level near the end. But the locations are diverse - from large reactors - to a carbon-freezing chamber to the Jedi Academy on Yavin. Nar Shaddar makes a return from JK. Whilst the levels are pretty good by themselves - the tasks or puzzles surrounding them are not. Most of the puzzles you are made to do are done with very little clues to how you do them. While security cameras give you hints to where to go - getting there is another task all together. You often feel lost and resort to running around for half an hour. I realised that Raven wants you to actually observe the environment and keep an eye out for subtle changes or things like explosive barrels or switches that are the key to the puzzle. Saber fighting is where the game really shines. You have three different styles of lightsaber stances, each with their own different combos and power. So the lowest level has you swinging like there's no tomorrow while the highest setting has the sword swing like it's a heavy broad sword. The battles are very cinematic. The game captures the dramatic fights of The Phantom Menace very well; the animations are fast, fluid and look damn cool. Another great feature is the Saber Lock. In the original JK the saber fights were pretty dull because there were lots of times when you and your opponent both hit each other. They have fixed this by making it so when the Sabers connect they are pushed against each other - it is then a fight to see who can overpower each other. This usually results in the loser being knocked to the ground. The saber battles take place in many different environments. From the top of sprawling catwalks, to dense jungles and even in between fatal laser beams where you have almost no foot room to navigate. The gunfights are still action packed with you being very outnumbered, just like in the movies. The missions are very varied - always full of action and never are tiering Multiplayer is launched from a seperate icon - this was probally so that it could be protected against cheats or something. Multiplayer has Death Match and Capture the flag - it also has "Kill the fool with the Yasalamari" This means that when even someone has this lizard they are unable to use the force and are unnefected by others useing it. "Jedi Master" is where the lightsaber is somewhere on the map and who ever gets it is the Jedi Master with full force powers and all. The players must then hunt down the Jedi Master and kill him. "Holocron" is where you must runaround and capture force powers - either from the ground or off dead foes. The force power boxes spin around you telling people what powers you have. All these games can be played by bots, and the bots are smart at it as well, each have their own personalitys such as favorite weapons and who they team up with. Overall this game has lots of great moments in it, it's packed with great sound and animations and is an instant classic.

The Bad

The puzzles were the biggest let down. Although Raven did try and make it so that you had to observe, it all narrowed down to the puzzles not having enough clues to tell you how to work them out. Also some of the multiplayer force powers were a little lax. Mainy force drain which took away force power and health. As well as lightning which is just a little too powerful.

The Bottom Line

A great game for all Star Wars fans. Chock full of authenticy and fun - this is one wild ride. Plus the Darth Maul saber cheat in MP is really cool