Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II

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This article is about the first game entitled Jedi Knight. For the series as a whole, see Star Wars: Jedi Knight (series).
Star Wars Jedi Knight:
Dark Forces II
JediKnight-cover.jpg
Developer(s) LucasArts
Publisher(s) LucasArts
Designer(s) Justin Chin
Series Star Wars: Jedi Knight
Engine Sith
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) Steam:
  • WW September 16, 2009[3]
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Distribution CD-ROM (2 discs)

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II is a 1997 first-person shooter video game developed and published by LucasArts for Microsoft Windows. It was made available on Steam on September 16, 2009.[3][4] The game is set in the Star Wars fictional universe and is a sequel to the 1995 game Star Wars: Dark Forces. Jedi Knight was very well received by critics, and holds aggregate scores of 88.69% on GameRankings and 91 out of 100 on Metacritic.

The storyline in Jedi Knight follows Kyle Katarn, the protagonist of Dark Forces. Katarn's father had been murdered by a Dark Jedi over the location of "The Valley of the Jedi" and the game follows Katarn's attempts to find the Valley and confront his father's killers.

Jedi Knight adds some technical and gameplay improvements over its predecessor. It uses a more powerful game engine that supports 3D acceleration using Direct3D 5.0. Jedi Knight also includes a multiplayer mode that allows players to compete over the internet or a local area network. On January 31, 1998, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith was released as an expansion to Jedi Knight. The game was a large success and as a result, the next game in the series followed in 2002, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.

Gameplay[edit]

Single-player[edit]

Jedi Knight is primarily a first-person shooter, although it does offer the choice of a third-person view.[5] The game consists of twenty-one levels with objectives which the player must complete before being able to continue to the next level. There are weapons available in each level and after level three, the player has the use of a lightsaber, along with the Force.[6] In addition to being an effective weapon, the lightsaber is also a useful tool for the player, providing light in dark areas,[7] deflecting incoming blaster fire and cutting through some obstacles.

A battle with Imperial stormtroopers

There are three types of Force powers; light, dark and neutral. Light Force powers provide nonviolent advantages such as being able to restore health or persuade enemies to ignore the player. Dark Force powers are violent and give the ability to throw objects or choke enemies. Neutral powers enhance athletic abilities such as being able to jump higher or run faster.[8] There are fourteen powers in total, four of each type and a bonus power in each light and dark if the Jedi stays true to that path.[9] Players earn stars to allocate toward Force powers by completing specific levels. By finding all the secrets in a level, players can also gain one bonus star to use. Between levels, the player can choose which Force powers to enhance by allocating stars to that power. Stars cannot be reclaimed from powers later on.[10][11]

Some levels contain puzzles that may require use of the Force to overcome, or by locating certain objects in the level.[5] There are a variety of hostile and non-hostile non-player characters (NPCs) within each level with whom the player can interact. Other enemies include monsters and vehicles.[5] There are two endings to Jedi Knight, depending on how the player plays the game. If the player does not harm non-hostile NPCs and focuses on collecting light Force powers, the player will get the light side ending. Conversely if the player harms non-hostile NPCs and collects dark Force powers, the game will end with the dark side ending.[12]

Multiplayer[edit]

Jedi Knight includes a multiplayer mode that allows up to eight people to compete with one another on a local area network and up to four people online.[5][6] Online gaming was hosted by the MSN Gaming Zone.[13] The player creates an avatar within Jedi Knight and selects a ranking, with higher rankings having access to more Force powers. The player can also edit their avatar's "skin" and lightsaber color. There are two types of game in Jedi Knight's multiplayer mode, "Capture the flag" and "Jedi Training", similar to deathmatch. The players can customize the settings to play a deathmatch the way they desire; for example, by limiting the use of Force powers or playing on teams.[5]

Story[edit]

The game is set one year after the events of Return of the Jedi. The player controls Kyle Katarn (voiced by Jason Court), who made his first appearance as a mercenary in Dark Forces. Katarn meets with an information broker droid named 8t88 (Denny Delk) who tells Katarn that his father, Morgan Katarn (Jacob Witkin), was killed by a Dark Jedi named Jerec (Christopher Neame), who also intends to rebuild the Empire. Kyle retrieves a disk from 8t88 that can only be read by a droid in Morgan's home. The disk's message, coupled with the droid giving Kyle a lightsaber, compel Kyle to undertake a journey to confront his father's murderers and discover his own latent Force abilities. While on this journey, Kyle learns that seven Dark Jedi are intent on finding the "Valley of the Jedi", a focal point for Jedi power and a Jedi burial ground.

Katarn retrieves the Valley's location and travels with Rebel Alliance agent and close friend Jan Ors (Angela Harry) to Ruusan, the planet on which the Valley is located. Jerec captures Ors and offers Katarn the choice to execute her or die. The decision Katarn makes here depends on the player's actions within the game up to this point. If Katarn has fallen to the dark side he kills Ors, but if he has remained true to the light path he spares her. With both paths, Katarn has a final confrontation with Jerec in the Valley of the Jedi's core. If the player chose the dark path, the game ends with Katarn becoming the new Emperor; if the player chose the light side, the game concludes with Katarn being reunited with Ors and carving a monument to his dead father.

Development[edit]

Development of Jedi Knight was led by Justin Chin, who had also worked on the previous game.[7] The most significant developments for Jedi Knight are the use of The Force and the lightsaber. The Force plays an integral role in how the player plays the game and shapes the way the game is played.[8] The method of allocating credits to Force powers was designed with a role-playing video game style in mind, allowing the player the choice of which powers to improve. Chin said in an early interview that progress in the game is based upon the abilities the player develops.[14]

Jedi Knight uses both 3D graphics and surround sound. It is one of the early games to adopt the use of 3D graphics hardware acceleration using Microsoft Direct3D.[15] The 3D sound technology was tweaked extensively to give an immersive feel to the game. This was achieved by experimentation using many different sound effects and playback styles.[16] Between levels Jedi Knight features full motion video cutscenes. The characters are represented by live actors while the backgrounds are pre-rendered graphics.[17] The cutscenes included the first lightsaber footage filmed since Return of the Jedi in 1983.[18]

Mysteries of the Sith[edit]

After the release of Jedi Knight, LucasArts developed Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith as an expansion pack. It was released on January 31, 1998 and received positive reviews from critics.[19][20] The expansion includes a single-player mode and fifteen multiplayer maps. There are also technical improvements over Jedi Knight, including colored lighting, new textures and models, and developments to the artificial intelligence.[21]

The single-player story in Mysteries of the Sith is set five years after the events of Jedi Knight. The player once more takes control of Kyle Katarn, but later in the game is given control of Mara Jade, one of the most popular Star Wars Expanded Universe characters.[22]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 88.69%[1]
Metacritic 91/100[2]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 2.5/5 stars[23]
Game Revolution A-[24]
GameSpot 8.9/10[12]
IGN 8/10[7]
PC Gamer US 94%[25]
PC Zone 94%[10]

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II was well received. The game holds an aggregate score of 91 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on ten reviews,[2] and 88.69% on GameRankings, based on thirteen reviews.[1] The combination of puzzles and gameplay drew praise from critics, who indicated that the game builds upon the qualities found in Dark Forces.[8] The user control of the game was praised,[12] especially the control of the lightsaber.[10] The game was compared positively with Doom, a significant game in the first-person shooter genre.[12][26]

The gameplay did not escape criticism, however, with Tom Chick of IGN criticising the layout of the levels: "The levels can be awfully linear, throwing you up against some frustrating brick walls where you don't know where to go or what you're supposed to do next. There are some bald key hunts."[7] The artificial intelligence of hostile NPCs received mixed reactions. GameSpot's Ron Dulin praised the AI, saying that they help the suspension of disbelief.[12] Chi Kong Lui of Gamecritics.com, however, gave the opposite view: "Enemy artificial intelligence is still pretty mindless and blasting them doesn't require much skill."[26]

Jedi Knight's graphics received mixed reviews. Critics stated the non-3D accelerated version of the game looks poor.[8][12] Game Revolution's Calvin Hubble argued that the game only really looks good if played on a system with a powerful 3D card.[24] Other graphical aspects received praise. The character animations were considered more detailed than similar games.[12] The graphical presentation of the levels received specific praise from IGN: "No other first person shooter has come close to Jedi Knight's dizzying sense of scale and its vast levels."[7] The full-motion video sequences between levels received both praise and criticism.[10][12]

The use of John Williams' soundtrack from the Star Wars films was met with praise,[7][12] though one reviewer believed that the music is overused in Star Wars video games.[26] The sound effects were also lauded, and seen as providing a good atmosphere for the game,[7] in particular the lightsaber sound and its implementation.[12][24]

The addition of a multiplayer mode to Jedi Knight was met positively,[6] but questions arose to why there are so few multiplayer maps and why single-player maps cannot be used in the multiplayer mode.[12] Tom Chick of IGN believes this was corrected with the release of Mysteries of the Sith.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Bailey, Kat (September 16, 2009). "Jedi Knight Collection Now Available On Steam". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Star Wars Jedi Knight Collection". Steam. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Boero, Mollie; Yunker, Jason; Gilstrap, Doyle; Tosti, Brett; Gleason, Barbara (1997). Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II Manual. LucasArts. 
  6. ^ a b c Evenson, Laura (December 18, 1997). "The Name of the Game is the Same: Video and computer game sequels stay with what works". sfgate.com. Retrieved December 14, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Chick, Tom (October 16, 2000). "PC Retroview: Jedi Knight". IGN. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Li, Kenneth (October 26, 1997). "Jedi Game A Force to be Reckoned With". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 14, 2008. [dead link]
  9. ^ St. Jean, Scott (July 12, 1999). "Trail's Guide to Jedi Knight - Force Powers". Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c d McCandles, David (August 13, 2001). "PC Review: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II". PC Zone. Archived from the original on January 26, 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ St. Jean, Scott (July 12, 1999). "Trail's Guide to Jedi Knight - FAQ". Retrieved August 26, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dulin, Ron (October 9, 1997). "Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II Review". GameSpot. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  13. ^ "MSN Gaming Zone Fact Sheet" (Press release). Microsoft. October 29, 1998. Retrieved December 15, 2008. 
  14. ^ Dulin, Ron (September 24, 1996). "Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II Preview". GameSpot. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Microsoft Direct3D Scores Big With Game Developers" (Press release). Microsoft. April 28, 1997. Retrieved December 14, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Interview With Sound Designer Dave Levison". GoodDealGames. Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  17. ^ Waggoner, Ben (January 3, 2000). "The State of the Industry". Gamasutra. Retrieved December 16, 2008. [dead link]
  18. ^ Emeran, Riyad (September 12, 2006). "TrustedReviews Top 5 Games Of All Time". TrustedReviews. Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Mysteries of the Sith for Windows (1998) MobyRank". MobyGames. Retrieved December 11, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  21. ^ Pagliarulo, Emil (February 10, 1998). "Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith - PC Review". The Adrenaline Vault. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Skywalker, Mara Jade". starwars.com. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  23. ^ House, Michael L. "Star Wars: Jedi Knight -- Dark Forces II - Review". AllGame. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b c Hubble, Calvin (May 6, 1998). "[Star Wars] Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  25. ^ Whitta, Gary (December 1997). "[Star Wars] Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II". PC Gamer: 174. Archived from the original on December 21, 1999. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b c Kong Lui, Chi (February 12, 1998). "Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II". Gamecritics. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 

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