Monday, March 21, 2005


Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy

I already blogged a first look of Jedi Knight - Jedi Academy a few weeks ago. I'm almost finished with the game now. I got in several hours of it this weekend. This is a really fun first person shooter. Most shooters I get sick of and quit before I get finished with them, but this game stays different enough to be fun all the way through.

Near the end of the game there is a dramatic scene where you have to make a choice between following the Light side of the Force or the Dark side. I saved the game at that point and then took the Dark side path (muhahahaha). I'm pretty sure I'm making it harder on myself, though, because now at the end level I am having to fight both the good Jedi who were once my friends and also the evil Sith (because, you know, I want the Big Evil Power all to myself).

The jedi battles in this game are a hell of a lot of fun. You have a bunch of different Force powers at your disposal and you use those (so will the enemies) to try and beat them plus of course your light sabre. Forget about shooting Force-users (Jedi and Sith) with your guns, they just reflect your shots right back and you and you take the damage. Even grenades are useless, they'll bounce it back right at you. I have managed to kill a few with grenades by using indirect fire (bouncing it off a wall and then having it land near them).

I concentrated at first on the Dark side powers, such as Force Grip (lets you choke people like Darth Vader, and you can lift them up and fling them around at higher levels) and Force Drain (sucks the life out of your enemies and gives some to you). After I maxed those two I started buying up a Force Berserker thing (forgot the actual name of the power) which makes you pretty much invulnerable, but you not-so-slowly lose health points while the power is active. So after the power ends you're really weak, and easily killable. I didn't like that too much so I only put 2 points in that one and the fourth Dark side power wasn't that cool sounding so I decided to get some light-side powers. One power is extremely useful which reduces damage for any type of energy or physical damage, so with that bumped up to max, basically the only thing that can hurt you are the Jedi/Sith using their powers. Also put at least one dot into Force Healing. That way after you kill some things you can at least heal yourself back up to full. There's also a power that lets you absorb Dark Force energy but I found that it's not that useful so even though I bought it up two dots I don't use it much.

By the end of the game the Force powers I used the most were: Force Grip - I would use this as much as possible. What I try to do is get close to a drop-off, a ledge, and lure the enemy Jedi/Sith up to me, then Force Grip them and drop them over the edge. Aaaaaaahhhh! Oh, so sorry, poor Jedi fall down and go boom. Another good thing about Force Grip is that it forces them to lower their light sabre, so if you grip them and then rush up and slash with your light sabre you can get in a free hit that way.

Force Drain also I use a ton. I used the Heal when out of combat but a lot of times near the end game I was having to fight 3 or 4 Jedi/Sith at once. What's really cool is that there are Jedi AND Sith all there together (at one room I think there were like 8 force-users, some Jedi and some Sith) and so it's a massive melee, with everyone wanting to kill me but also wanting to kill each other. During those I would take cheap shots at the Jedi (because I've found that the Jedi are harder to kill, so I tried to take them out first) while they were engaged with the Sith. When you're fighting that many people the only way to stay alive is to use Force Drain to keep your health level up.

Force Push - you have to use this a lot. For one thing it's cool to Force Push people over a ledge and listen to them scream as they plumet to their death. But for another, Force Push will break a Force Grip on you, so if you are being Force Gripped you hit the Force Push button as fast as you can to get out of it.

Force Speed - This is damn useful in a battle against multiple opponents. You can dodge their attacks and maneuver behind the Jedi/Sith to slash them from behind.

Force Jump - basically this is a mandatory power that is primarily useful just to make it through the levels because they require a ton of jumping. The nice part about this power is that it's automatic, if you jump, you automatically Force Jump if you have the force power available. It can also be a life saver in combat if you are being trapped by two or more opponents you can jump away sometimes. By the end game when Force Jump is maxed out you can jump incredibly high.

Apart from jedi/sith the other enemies of the game offer little challenge. Sometimes they can gang up on you and put a hurt on, especially at earlier levels. Also some of them might have powerful weaponry that can majory hurt, like a rocket-launcher. There's some cyber-suit storm troopers that are hard to kill without heavy weaponry. There were also some light-sabre weilding droids that were very tough, and the only way to kill them was with repeated light sabre swipes or throwing the sabre at them. Also there were some jet-pack flying storm troopers that were only hard to kill because they are kind of hard to reach, but you can toss the light sabre at them and bring them down pretty easily. Overall there is a pretty good variety of enemies in the game.

There's a bunch of different types of environments too. You perform missions on planets all over the known galaxy, such as Tatooine, Hoth, Yavin, Coruscant, and tons of other places. You will fight through space stations, star destroyers, ancient temples, high rise buildings in Coruscant, desert planets, ice planets, etc. You have one really cool level where you race along on speeder bikes while other bad guys on speeder bikes try and shoot you down. There's tons of cool levels like that where you have something besides just pure gun/sabre to do. Several mini-games also. For example on one mission your ship gets tractor-beamed by a star destroyer and so you have to disable the tractor beam and then try and blow up the ship while you get away, but the ship comes under attack by tie-bombers (boggle, yeah, I'm not sure why they were bombing their own ship, unless I guess they thought you were in control of it at that point) so you have this part where you man a gun-emplacement on the destroyer and blast away at the tie-bombers.

This game is full of cool characters to encounter also. Luke Skywalker is there as a mentor and he's in a bunch of scenes. Then there is Kyle Katarn, the hero of previous Jedi Knight games. He actually will go on missions with you a few times. There's your buddy Rosch who is a fellow student at the Academy. And you encounter some other characters from the movie like Chewbacca. Not to mention - you get to fight Boba Fett!!

I can highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a good first-person shooter and especially if they also love Star Wars. Even if you don't typically like a FPS game, you might really enjoy this one if you are a Star Wars fan because it is just so good. Also on the easy setting the game is very playable for a novice. The graphics are somewhat dated, it feels like a 3 year old game or so, but they still are servicable and look good enough to still be a lot of fun. Plus on the bright side of that they will run on modest hardware.

One note on the graphics - I was getting a weird problem where if I looked at a light at just the right (wrong?) angle my entire screen would flash white. This was very disorienting at first and gave the beginning of the game a bad impression. I ended up having to disable dynamic lighting or some other light-related graphics feature to prevent this from happening. This was on an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro, with the latest Catalyst drivers.

Hopefully I can finish up the game this week and post my comments on the end game's story and such. I can still even without seeing that part wholeheartedly recommend this game. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate this game a 8.8 or so.

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