Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is the first Star Wars game I have played where you get a lightsaber right away. A refreshing change, I would say. Later on you even get to choose staff or dual sabers instead of the boring single one. And their colors can be customized too.

Academy came out a year after Outcast and runs on the same Quake III: Team Arena engine. I guess having the technical side mostly done already gave Raven Software a chance to build more upon the old game. In addition to more sabers, there are more attack moves – some of them really flashy.

I even bothered to memorize some of them this time. The forward roll-stab seemed quite effective when I managed to hit with it. But I still did not really master the combat; mostly I still just flailed about. I did learn some of the wall-running moves too. They were in Outcast as well, at least to some degree, but now I actually used the moves. I am not entirely convinced about their usefulness but at least Force-powered parkour looks cool.

In Jedi Academy you play as Jaden Korr who arrives to Yavin IV to become a Jedi under the watchful eyes of Skywalker and Katarn. Jaden can be customized in a few ways, including gender. I chose to play as female Jaden – and Twi'lek too – as she is given voice by no other than Jennifer Hale. Though I do have to say that Hale's voice did not fit Jaden at all. Maybe it was the Twi'lek model that made it.

Jedi Academy is not as linear an experience as Jedi Outcast. You are given a list of missions you can pick from and do them in the order you desire. After you have done enough, a story-progressing mission appears, and after it a new set of side missions.

The missions have a bit of variety in between them – you get to ride a speeder and a tauntaun, too. And they are a lot shorter and less bothersome to navigate than any mission in Outcast. There is maybe a weaker feeling of narrative but getting forward in the game is less tedious.

You get to choose powers from both side of the force again without care but there is also a decision towards the end of the game to jump on the dark side. Doing so means you get to fight both the sith and jedi for the rest of the game and after the final boss you will have to face Kyle Katarn himself. I chose not to give into rage; I was happy enough on the light side of things.

And the music... still the same old movie soundtrack. Surely they could have hired some composer to do at least a little bit of original music for the game. The Knights of the Old Republic games did so why not the Jedi Knight series?

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