PC/Mac/Linux
enfrdeitptrues

System Requirements
CPU: PII 350, 400MHz for Mac HDD: 665 MB RAM: 64 MB of RAM or 128 MB of RAM for Windows 2000, XP, Mac OS: Windows 95 OSR2, 98, ME, 2000, XP, MacOS 9 VIDEO: 16 MB Open GL compatible PCI or AGP graphics card SOUND: 16-bit Direct X 8.x compatible sound card CD-ROM: 4x CD-ROM drive or faster required MODEM: 56K or faster connection for internet play

I've always wondered what it would be like to buy a game that would, in many ways, fulfill a life-long 'gaming' dream of mine. I don't have that many, and none have ever come true - or that is, until now. Not only does Jedi Outcast fulfill this dream, but it also provides one of the most immersive, visually stunning FPS experiences ever created, complete with top-notch graphics, sound, and game design. Let's delve a little deeper into this game that I have, so far, praised so highly...

Plot

Jedi Outcast is the third game to follow the adventures of the Rebel mercenary and impromptu Jedi, Kyle Katarn. The plot takes place about eight years after the events of Jedi Knight and its expansion, The Mysteries of the Sith, and is advanced through primitive-looking cut scenes rendered in the game's engine. Though the sequences are adequate in telling the story , they lack the personality of Jedi Knight's full motion video cut scenes, and prevent the plot of Jedi Outcast from being as compelling as that of Jedi Knight. For those of you who may remember, in MotS, Kyle fell to the Dark Side, and only came back to the light through the efforts of his apprentice, Mara Jade. Unable to reconcile himself to his failure, Kyle turned his lightsaber in to Luke Skywalker and abandoned his connection to the Force. Katarn became a Jedi outcast, incapable of redeeming himself for his actions. Fast-forward eight years, and Kyle and his longtime partner Jan Ors are tasked with investigating a long abandoned Imperial base. Mysterious transmissions have been emanating from it, including one with a cryptic reference to the Valley of the Jedi (a plot tie-in from Jedi Knight). After Jan's death at the hands of a mysterious Dark Jedi, Kyle must regain his nascent force ability to stop a wide-reaching plot to use the Valley's power to fuel another Imperial bid for galactic domination.

Weapons

The game, as some may or may not notice, begins rather slowly, with relatively few weapons and combat possibilities to chose from (this is kind of how Jedi Knight started, so it may not bother some JK vets). It quickly picks up, however, when you acquire your lightsaber and force powers - the high points of the game. Sure, there are other weapons, but they all seem to be Star Wars equivalents of the typical FPS standards (sniper rifle = disrupter, shotgun = Flechette gun, grenades = thermal detonators), and the combination of the aforementioned two are what make this game as insanely fun as it is. In fact, the lightsaber is SO cool that I'll have to devote an entire paragraph to it.

Light Saber

Before I go on, let me establish three things: 1) I'm a Star Wars fan; 2) Jedi Knight is what made me a Star Wars fan; and 3) I've always wanted a game to have lightsaber fights like those in Episode I. This is where the game fulfills my dream - the lightsaber combat (and what better game than the sequel to Jedi Knight?). Kyle has three stances that all emphasize a certain style of play, allowing any player to effectively use the shining shaft of deadly light. The fighting is fast and furious, and the winner is determined by a combination of luck and skill. Like most good fighting games, a myriad of special moves are available in conjunction with the typical swings. You'll find yourself making crouching saber jabs, giving your opponents reverse mohawks while flipping over them, and even pulling moves that come straight from 'The Matrix'. Also like most good fighting games, you'll perform most of these awesome moves without even trying, making yourself look better than you really are.

The Force

The lightsaber is awesome, but what is a Jedi without the Force? Here is another point where the game shines. With Kyle's long absence from the Force, he starts his Jedi abilities with some weak and extremely basic abilities. As the game goes on, your abilities gain power, and by the end of the game, you'll be playing with Stormtroopers like a deranged three-year-old in the middle of a play pen filled with action figures. Jedi Outcast has done away with the ability to choose Force advancement, and allows only seven or eight Force powers in single player (multiplayer adds another seven), but that's okay, considering that Jedi Knight's wide range of force powers and awkward system for using them meant that you ended up not using half of them. Since Katarn frequently walks the line between the Light and Dark sides in the single player game, your selection of powers comes from both sides of the Force. Multiplayer evens things out a bit, allowing a player to choose either the Light or the Dark. The only downside is the way in which the Force abilities are utilized. It can't exactly be termed as awkward, but more inconvenient, especially in the middle of a saber fight. Since, like in all other FPS's, the controls can be configured, it's not much of a problem anyway.

Enemies

Opposing you in all of your endeavors are a variety of baddies, ranging in lethality from the pitifully easy to the frustratingly hard. You will, of course, not only be treated to the typical Stormtrooper, as well as a close cousin: the Swamp Trooper, but will also encounter alien mercenaries, combat droids, walkers, turrets, man-eating insectoid creatures, and, later on, several formidable saber-wielding opponents. The AI for the enemies are quite good: Stormtroopers will retreat when the officer that is leading them falls and the aforementioned saber-wielding opponents will use varying degrees of skill to try and knock you off. Overall, the AI adds a lot to the game.

Interface

The interface is typical FPS, with the occasional fighting game element for the saber. The game can be switched between first- and third-person, automatically going to third when you bust out the saber. The menu is simple and easy to navigate, and doing anything from changing preferences to configuring keys is straightforward and uncomplicated. My biggest pet peeve with this game has got to be the fact that you can't save any control changes, meaning that you'll have to reset your control adjustments every time you start the game. This is especially annoying when you forget to do this, and discover that Force Push doesn't work on the key that you usually configure it to - a split second before some Shadow Trooper is about to gouge your gizzard out. Oh well - guess that's what Sticky Notes are for.

Graphics

The graphics for Jedi Outcast are excellent, and the character models for the baddies are exceptional, although what really makes this a visual tour de force is the lighting. There are places in the game where you could swear that you all you'd have to do is dip your hands through the monitor and you could feel the cold hardness of an Imperial bulkhead, the griminess of a street in Nar Shadda, the grainy roughness of an underground tunnel wall.

Sound

The sound is good, though most of what your hearing is what you've been hearing for the past twenty-five years or so. Hearing the remarks of Stormtroopers, oblivious to your presence, of course, is especially entertaining.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is available through Jedi Outcast's own built-in server, as well as through Gamespy Arcade and MSN Gaming Zone. The game offers a variety of fun gaming modes, including (my personal favorite) a duel mode, where players take turns going one-on-one with their sabers and force powers. A nice selection of good maps is available, though none of them are as creative as some of the old Jedi Knight maps. Server hosts are also given the option to turn off force abilities and other weapons in order to cater to you lightsaber purists out there.

Stability

The game is very stable and installation is a breeze. The only problem I had was that, every once in a while, my computer would try to start up my internet connection, forcing me to take five minutes to work the whole thing out. Otherwise, Outcast is pretty stable.

Appropriate

From a Christian standpoint, the game is relatively clean, although there are several aspects that could be considered objectionable. The game's plot is soaked in the New Age-ish philosophies of the Force - even more so than in other Star Wars games. Jedi Outcast is gore-free, though not without the occasional severed limb from the lightsaber. Somewhat disturbing are the myriad ways that you can dispatch your hapless victims (although you'll probably be having too much fun to even care). As if it's not enough to shoot or slash them, now you can electrocute them, vaporize them, strangle them, fling them off ledges, and yank them into the waiting beam of your lightsaber. Also, the death animations for these enemies (a Stormtrooper gets his hand lopped off and collapses to the floor, writhing and clutching his stump) and the sheer body count can sometimes be construed as disturbing. The game sports one or two minor swear words, as well as a bunch of imaginary Star Wars expletives, some of which are quite amusing (Aww....Sithspit!).

Final Thoughts

So far, Jedi Outcast has been the surprise hit of 2002 for me. I was so busy following the progress of another FPS project (C&C: Renegade), that I didn't realize that I had anticipated the wrong game until shoved my saber down some poor rodian's throat for the first time. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast's superior graphics, level design, game play, and AI, plus excellent saber and Force power implementation, make this a real winner. Renegade was good and Medal of Honor was excellent, but Jedi Outcast, so far, has my vote for game of the year.

Final Ratings

Game Play: A
Graphics: A+
Sound: A
Interface: B+
Stability: B+
Offensive Content: C

Overall: A-

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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