Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast is now older than I was when I first played it back in 2002. That’s bonkers, right? The game’s original PC release was a success that spawned a sequel, Jedi Academy, but nothing more. It’s a shame because the Jedi Knight games were some of the finest uses of the Star Wars license. These days we’ve got… well, you know what we’ve got.
A surprise release this month, Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast has been taking me back to my childhood over the last week. I’ve been running around massive levels shooting Stormtroopers in the face. I’ve gone toe-to-toe with the Reborn dark Jedi. And I’ve spent countless hours scratching my head, trying to figure out some of the solutions to the game’s many puzzles. But before I start going into detail on the finer workings of Jedi Outcast, let me set the scene.
Jedi Outcast takes place a few years after Return of the Jedi. It’s not considered canon with the newly released movies and lunchboxes that Disney has pushed out the door since paying George Lucas to step away from the franchise. This game now takes place in the “extended universe” along with other games and books released before George Lucas’ massive payday. Not that it matters all that much to me. It is what it is – a story.
You play as gun-for-hire Kyle Katarn, a chap who used to be a Jedi until he turned his back on The Force for reasons. I can’t quite remember why, as all I remember is that I played the first Jedi Knight game and I barely remember it. Kyle’s not a Jedi anymore, that’s the main thing. Instead, he’s mooching around space with his partner Jan, and the first mission you’re on takes place on a drab, grey outpost that’s supposed to be empty. Of course, it’s not empty and there are loads of Stormtroopers up to no good. This serves as the game’s introduction and, in retrospect, it’s not a great one.
The first level sets the stage for the next five hours of the game. Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and sabers. It’s no fun and no sabers. Being that Kyle has ditched his Jedi powers, you’re basically playing a first-person shooter that wasn’t made with consoles in mind. The controls aren’t great and I often found myself wasting most of my ammo as I fought with the crosshairs. The Stormtroopers were uncharacteristically accurate, while I was the polar opposite. This results in many, many deaths. I’m not ashamed to say that I save-scummed my way through the first few hours. I did it so much that I ended up using all of my available save slots! I’ve not had to do such scummy saving since, well, since Jedi Outcast originally released. But if you don’t save after every little encounter you risk the chance of losing your progress and having to go through the annoying puzzles and fire-fights again.
The puzzles are annoying, too. Given the game’s age, it’s understandable that there isn’t that much variety to each map’s assets. However, this makes finding the consoles you’re supposed to interact with a bloody nuisance. All too often I’d overlook a switch I was meant to flip because it was camouflaged amongst a wall of other Star Wars-y computer stuff. It doesn’t help that many of the game’s puzzles revolve around you flipping switches, either. I must confess, I did use some online walkthroughs to get by and, once I realized that there was a cheat menu that allowed me to get all the weapons, force powers and God mode, I turned it on and never turned it off. In fact, to this day I don’t think I’ve ever done a playthrough of this game without using cheats and a walkthrough…
Now it may sound overwhelmingly negative up to this point but bear with me, because the game does get better. So much better. Once you’ve cheesed your way through the first few hours that see Kyle’s partner slain by the game’s antagonist, Desann, and his little slag of a Sith apprentice, Tavion, you’ll be on your way to using The Force once again.
After encountering Desann and losing badly, Kyle decides he needs to get his Force powers back, as well as his lightsaber. After a brief meeting with Luke Skywalker and a quick tutorial on using The Force, you’ve got some basic Force powers and your trusty lightsaber. This is where the game gets fun.
The real highlight in Jedi Outcast is in the lightsaber combat and Force powers. Swinging your buzzing blade at enemies and lopping their hands off is excellent fun. Throwing your lightsaber at a group of Stormtrooper and watching them fall is equally satisfying, but perhaps my favorite thing is to use Force Grip and choke them out like Vader does, before throwing them into their buddies. Why the game’s original developer chose to keep this genuinely amazing gameplay locked away behind a few hours of really crap gameplay baffles me.
Jedi Outcast is a product of a bygone era of gaming, that much is clear. From level design and general presentation, it’s not a game up to today’s standards. That’s not to say it’s not worth playing. For all of its problems, it’s still worth the fair asking price. It’s got a decent story that’s worth plodding through, a great score with classic John Williams pieces blaring out at the appropriate moments, and once you’re able to use The Force and a lightsaber there’s really nothing else like it. Even more recent Star Wars games have yet to surpass the saber combat in Jedi Outcast, and for that reason alone I would recommend the game to any Star Wars fan. Plus, you’ll be able to cheat your way through the first couple of levels. You filthy little Sith slag.
Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast PS4 Review
Overall - Good - 6.9/10
Jedi Outcast in 2002 was amazing. Jedi Outcast in 2019 is about managing expectations and knowing the struggle that lies ahead. It’s a great game, just not with a DualShock 4 controller. The lack of aim-assist may get the PC elite laughing, but it’s sorely missed here.
If you can cheese through the first few hours, you’ll have a great time. My suggestion, though, is to either save scum like the galaxy depends on it, or use cheats. Either way, once you’ve got a lightsaber in your hand, you’ll be having a blast.
- Decent story for a 2002-era video game
- Lightsaber combat is still amazing after 17 years
- Music and sound effects sound like they’re ripped straight from the movies – excellent
- Fun cheats!
- Poor first-person shooting controls make the opening hours a true test of patience enough to turn even the most faithful Jedi to the dark side
- Lack of multiplayer is a heart-breaking shame for those who know of its greatness.
- Not all of the cheats are available, sadly.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.