Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II (PC)

Star Wars Jedi Knight title screen
Today's 'J' game is Star Wars: Dark Forces II - Jedi Knight, or whatever order those names go in. Either way there's definitely a title beginning with 'J' in there somewhere and that's what's important. As usual I'm going to play it for an hour or so, take some screenshots, talk about how it plays and so on. It'll be cool

Jedi Knight is the second game in the Jedi Knight series (not to be confused with the Gabriel Knight series), coming two years after 1995's Dark Forces. I'm not sure why they dropped the original title for the rest of the games, but I have a theory that it's got something to do with the fact that Star Wars fans are obsessed with lightsabers. In fact I believe it's universally acknowledged that the only objective flaw in the near-perfect TIE Fighter (the greatest of all Star Wars games) is the fact that you can't roll down a window and lean out of the cockpit with a sword, slicing up passing capital ships and space jousting with X-Wings.

Sure people liked being able to run around as more of a Han Solo type as he went across the galaxy blasting things with his blasters, but Han Solo with a lightsaber is what they really wanted. So from this point on LucasArts made certain to put the word 'Jedi' on the covers in big letters, making it absolutely clear to potential customers that yes, you will get to swing one of those glowy swords around in this one.

(Some of the following screenshots will expand if you click them, some won't. It's an exciting mystery!)

This is a picture, please do not attempt to click on the links.
By the way, I don't know if you've gone exploring through those tabs across the top of the website lately, but if you click on 'Game Series' it shows the games I've played from different franchises grouped together and right now Star Trek is stomping all over poor Star Wars, 9 games to 5.

I don't know how that happened, it definitely wasn't deliberate, but I'm going to make an effort this year to bring a bit more balance back to the site. Fortunately there are enough Star Wars games in the universe right now that I can manage this without ever playing Kinect Star Wars!

Though if I ever end up owning a Kinect for whatever reason...

The game begins by straight up ripping off the first Star Wars movie, with a little space cruiser getting shot up by a Star Destroyer style starship flying in across the top of the screen. It's another gigantic menacing grey space wedge, but of a new design and possibly bigger than any we've ever seen before!!!

It seems like every villain in the Jedi Knight series has to get his own unique super ship even more dangerous than the last. It's all Empire Strikes Back's fault I reckon for giving Darth Vader that Super Star Destroyer, it set a bad precedent.

The villain this time is the Jerec, leader of the Dark Jedi, played in these live action FMV movies by actual professional actor Christopher Neame. He's apparently one of just 22 actors to have a credited role in both Star Trek and Doctor Who, and when you include Star Wars that number gets much much smaller so he's doing well. He also played roles in Blake's Seven, Babylon 5... and Sliders (though it was a second season Sliders episode so that's not so bad).

Fuck... it's no good, I can't do it! The more I try to ignore him the more he grins and bobs around in the background. That guy on the left... what the fuck were they thinking? How did no one on set realise that it doesn't matter how good the acting is, or how slick the compositing might be, when you've got a dopey comic relief character there turning the whole scene into a joke?

Though even Jerec here is kind of hamming it up himself to be honest, licking his lips with glee and switching his British accent to its 'evil' setting. This Jedi they've captured from the exploding ship seems more irritated by the overacting than he is concerned about his safety. Poor Rahn the Jedi is stuck being the straight man in a room of evil clowns and when even he's given lines like "Why hesitate? Strike me down," (it's a Return of the Jedi reference, the villain said it in Return of the Jedi remember!), well it's hard to care about any of this.

Speaking of Return of the Jedi, I remember that film implying that there weren't a great deal of Jedis and Dark Jedis and Sith and whatever left inhabiting that galaxy far far away, so I'm going to have to take a moment to work out where exactly this game fits in with the timeline so I can get it all straight in my head.

Right, so Jedi Knight takes place about a year after Return of the Jedi then. Well where did all these bloody Jedi come from then? Aren't they all supposed to be dead? They certainly didn't show up during that big epic fight to decide the fate of the galaxy, when they would've been really helpful to have around.

Alright to be fair I guess the original trilogy did introduce a surprise hidden Jedi once or twice every film, so it's not like it's impossible there's more of them. Fine then, let's go back and see how Rahn's doing. Did I mention that these cutscenes are PAUSABLE by the way? In a game made in 1997. Astounding.

Oh that doesn't look good. Rahn used his telekinesis to grab a Dark Jedi's lightsaber and for a second there it looked like he might actually be able to make a heroic getaway. Here's a fun and interesting fact for you: this game featured the first lightsaber footage filmed for an official Star Wars scene since Return of the Jedi in 1983, 14 years earlier.

Unfortunately Jerec catches him before he can put tentacle head guy out of my misery, with a cheap... lens flare attack, which I guess paralyses people. Then he simply walks over and slices the Jedi's head off with one good swipe of his evil red lightsaber and a whole lot of evil cackling laughter.

So we're not playing as this guy then.


MEANWHILE ON NAR SHADDAA - THE VERTICAL CITY.


With one potential protagonist down, the game cuts instead to Kyle Katarn, mercenary and hero of Dark Forces, who's currently sitting in a bar watching holographic home videos. He's feeling a bit more sentimental than usual because his father has just been murdered. In fact he's waiting here to meet up with an information dealer to learn who killed him: a robot called IG-88... or maybe it was 8t88. I'm pretty sure it wasn't HK-88. Let's just call him Dave.

I love how even data disks in the Star Wars universe are rusty metal impractical looking things.

Dave the robot has good news and bad news. The good news is that he has learned that Kyle's father was murdered by the Dark Jedi Jerec, possibly the mostly deadly combatant in the galaxy with near unlimited resources at his disposal and an entire starship fleet trailing him around just to give his comically huge warship some scale.

The bad news is that Jerec has hired Dave to work for him instead, and he's actually come here to threaten Kyle until he reveals how to decipher this mysterious disk the robot found in his dead father's house. He's brought two goons with him as well to motivate Kyle into being more forthcoming.

Oh man, that mask is amazing. The production crew had done their best to make this guy look like a genuine Star Wars alien, but of course they didn't have the time or budget to give a guy with 6 seconds of screen time an animatronic mouth, so he just sort of moves his head to indicate that he's speaking.

Kyle explains to Dave that he's not impressed by his threats, so the robot walks away and leaves the thugs to it. It doesn't work out well for them.


LEVEL 1: DOUBLE CROSS ON NAR SHADDAA.


The guy could definitely run, but he wasn't quite fast enough to outrun a blaster bolt to the ass! It's so easy to shoot first when your opponent has turned his back to you.

Alright so now I have to go chase down Dave the Turncoat Robot and get my disk back. Actually first I need to get it to stop printing 'Screenshot Taken' on the top of every screenshot. I really hate it when games do that; I'd rather be left wondering if it's taking shots than know for a fact that all my screens are coming out covered in text.

If I could get it to stop playing the Cantina Band music from the first Star Wars film that'd be nice too. LucasArts often seemed to think that making a Star Wars game gave them a free pass to skip out of composing an original soundtrack.

Huh, this is what I look like in third person view? But... why? He doesn't look anything like FMV Kyle!

He doesn't look a whole lot like classic pre-beard Dark Forces Kyle either, before he turned into a cross between Clint Eastwood and that guy from the original CSI series.

Fortunately I only ever see his face if I leave the game idle long enough for the camera to start rotating, so I'll just... not do that again. Problem solved.

Welcome to the Star Wars universe, where even the outside of a pub can be a stark architectural nightmare. I suppose I should be grateful that I didn't have to swing across a bottomless chasm to get out.

I could just ignore the guy sniping me on the right, seeing as I can just step around his blaster fire and I can't get up there anyway, but I suppose the polite thing to do would be to fire three shots back up at him and show him that I care. I collected a Stormtrooper rifle from one of the other goons sent to kill me earlier, but the thing eats double the ammo per shot and likes to consider my crosshair as a suggestion rather than a guide, so I'm sticking with my pistol for now. There's no reload button or iron sights by the way.

Okay I can't go right, so I'll head down the alley to the left of the bar entrance then.

They were waiting for me down the road to the left as well! Seems that Dave hired a whole legion of these henchmen, but then had them space themselves out so that there's never more than three in each place. They're all very vulnerable to little bolts of light though so it's fine.

The game is very fast, but the laser blasts aren't as quick as light usually tends to be, so gameplay is more about staying mobile and dodging through fire than hiding from it. Sure I get hit a few times that way, but I've got a shield device on so all I need to do is hang on to life long enough to reach the next stash of health or shield belts. Neither of them regenerate and there's no checkpoints, but quick saves make my eventual success inevitable.

Hey did I just gun down Greedo the green greedy bounty hunter? Oh wait, no, of course not, Greedo died in the first movie when Han Solo blasted him at the Mos Eisley cantina, which would be... around four years ago at this point in the story. So that kind of raises the question of why it says this on the back cover of the game box:

I guess it does sound more interesting than "Confront aliens belonging to the same races as Greedo and that bounty hunter from Empire Strikes Back who looked like a lizard-man."

Also this mentions something else I should talk about: the game's called Jedi Knight, but I haven't got a lightsaber or any force powers whatsoever. Kyle Katarn's just an average guy with a lot of training and the ability to carry a ridiculous number of guns. Do I care? Hell naw, I love first person shooters, but I understand why some people would consider these levels to be one long boring prelude that they can't skip past.

This city really was designed by lunatics. This isn't a daring chase across the rooftops and back streets of Nar Shaddaa by the way, this is me just trying to walk back to the spaceport from the pub.

Like Dark Forces the game is halfway between the abstract level design found in Doom and Quake, and the more realistic style brought in by games like Duke Nukem 3D. It's designed to appear like an actual city, but the actual layout of it makes no sense whatsoever (in the best possible way). It reminds me a bit of Half-Life in that respect, but much more seamless; this level is huge.

Ah, the old 'hide stuff under the lift' trick. Lucky I fell off really. I haven't found any Doom-style fake walls around, but the designers have found other ways to hide their secrets.

Oh shit, I recognise that thing, it's the freighter out of TIE Fighter!

Star Wars: TIE Fighter (MS-DOS)
This is one of the things I think works about the Star Wars Extended Universe: the world building. Don't get me wrong, the way that every single minor background character from the movies has had their backstory explored in detail drives me mad, but I love the way that so many different creators have added new bits and pieces to this imaginary setting for others to play with. Or ignore entirely.


EVENTUALLY.


Oh, that's the end of the level already? I've been playing on this same map for about 30 minutes and I'm still surprised to see Dave's shuttle so soon. Nothing I can do about it though, as cutscene Kyle takes over here to handle it his own way. Which probably means less shooting.

Whoa, turns out I was wrong about that. Kyle's first reaction to seeing his old friend Dave the Trecherous Robot, is to whip out his pistol and immediately shoot his arm off. His follow up shots were less accurate, but if the robot didn't have that shuttle to hide inside of that would've been it for Dave.

But then one of Jerec's TIE Bombers flies over to give Kyle some payback, sending him flying to the ground with its incoming fire.

Star Wars Jedi Knight Moldy Crow
Moldy Crow beats TIE Bomber! Kyle's partner Jan Ors comes in to save the day using the Han Solo maneuver: swooping in out of nowhere at the last possible moment to blast his attacker to pieces. Someone down in the lower levels of the city is getting spacefighter debris crashing onto their heads right now, but then what else is new?

Speaking of things crashing into the lower levels, I still need to find where Dave's arm ended up. It was still holding Kyle's data disk when it dropped over the edge of the landing pad.


LEVEL 2: THE LOST DISK.


First though I'm going to screw around and hitch a ride on my ship as it flies away to evade some approaching TIE Fighters. I expected to hit an invisible wall and bounce right off, but nope the Moldy Crow is an actual physical object in the scene, and I can stand on the wing and take off into the sky.

Then I bounced off the invisible level ceiling, sending Kyle plummeting a million stories to his death.

One reload later and now I'm heading down through vents and pipes, travelling deeper into the belly of the beast, down in the places where people shouldn't be. So of course Dave has got an army waiting for me here as well.

This particular band of bastards must have stumbled upon a cache of thermal detonators though, as now I'm getting grenades thrown my way more often than I'd like. I tried throwing a few back at them, but it seems that throwing isn't one of Kyle's strong suits, and they usually end up bouncing back and blowing me up instead.

I'm not still looking for the arm by the way, I found that almost immediately. Now I'm just trying to find my way back up out of this maze of pipes with the disk to somewhere Jan can pick me up from.


LATER.


The game sure does love its switches, and now that I'm moving through warehouses those switches sometimes activate conveyor belts

Simply jumping over onto it won't do me any good though, as it's carrying the crates over to a lift which takes them up to the next floor, and I'm not a crate. I'm going to need to come at this problem from a different direction...


SOON.


There we go! I dropped down under the conveyor belt, and found a way to get up onto a walkway overlooking the room. From there I simple stepped off the ledge and landed on top of a passing crate, then rode it all the way up to this level. Easy!

All these warehouses and crates and puzzles are reminding me a bit of Quake II, except Jedi Knight actually has the better level design. Well, it's making more sense at least. Plus it even feels like a more modern game somehow, which is interesting as this actually pre-dates Quake II by a few months.


EVENTUALLY.


I rode all the conveyor belts and jumped across all the boxes and finally made it out of Nar Shaddaa forever! Well, until the next Star Wars game anyway. For a place that never actually showed up in the movies, video games sure love to go back to that planet. This is another reason why the shared Extended Universe is great: it means that there's other recognisable places to visit besides ice planet, swamp planet, cloud planet and bloody Tatooine again.

On the other hand, the Extended Universe occasionally likes to pull crap like you see in the screenshot above. Kyle's getting a vision in his sleep from the ghost of the dead Jedi, which is fine, no problems there. But it's a vision about how Jerec is looking for the Valley of the Jedi, which will give him the power... OF A GOD! He could destroy stars with a thought, eradicate billions with a whisper! C'mon Rahn, this is Star Wars not Final Fantasy VI, the Force is already plenty powerful as it is.

I realise that there needs to be something for the player to stop, and super space stations and robot armies have been done already, but I'm sure there's other things a guy like Jerec could be stopped from doing. Something that still works with the theme of Kyle learning about his father's Jedi past and the Force.

I like this transition though, as Kyle decides that he has to go back to his old home to decipher the disk. Just because it's all filmed on green screens and they can't even move the camera, doesn't mean that they can't try to add a little class to it.

Oh. Guess who I found packing up to leave just as Kyle arrived at his father's house.

Jerec is busy elsewhere, so Sariss finally has her chance to prove that she can ham it up just as much as he can when she actually has lines. But she's sharing the scene with ol' tentacle head himself, and he's even worse! Boc is apparently supposed to be a sadistic lunatic, but on screen he mostly comes across like... like... uh...

... I know, he's someone trying to act like they're a dog! He just bobs about with that dumb grin on his face, trying to stay in frame and join in with the others. The poor Jedi doesn't quite get what's going on, but he's just stoked to be here.

These FMV clips really do feel like they took footage from two different stories and spliced them together. Kyle, Jan, Rahn, Kyle's dad and Dave the Traitorous CGI Robot (okay fine, he's called 8t88) all act like they're in a low budget Star Wars TV series, doing the best they can with the material they've been given. The Dark Jedi on the other hand are from Star Wars: The Pantomime. They're from Star Wars: Holiday Special '97. They're straight out of some alternate universe Star Wars/Power Rangers crossover.


LEVEL 3: THE RETURN HOME TO SULON.


Anyway, assholes have taken over Kyle's old house and I need to stop them and discover his father's secrets or else it's going to be supernovas everywhere from now on.

By the way, check out this new gun I've found! It's like a crossbow but it fires green lasers... or something! It's a bit slow to fire but it can kill most enemies with a single shot (no headshots in this that I'm aware of) and I can hold fire to charge up a devastating five way shot! Downsides: the enemies have them too and can do the same thing with them. Things are gonna get a bit 'bullet hell' down at the ol' Katarn homestead tonight.

Alright, I need to get inside the house and then locate something that can read this disk. Fortunately it shouldn't be difficult to find my way around as this is one of the few games to actually have a proper 3D map! It's a miracle!

I... can't make any sense of this at all. It doesn't help that if I zoom out at all, parts of the map start to disappear, so I can never get a full picture of where I am.

Alright fine maybe I've been wrong all these years, maybe 3D maps for first person shooters are actually a terrible idea! Or maybe this just isn't a very good map. I'm not entirely sure.

Well I've ended up around the back of the house, moving gates to dam the water so that I can enter the door on the right. It's all very clever and 'Duke Nukem 3D' and everything but... wasn't I supposed to be looking for something inside the house?

Oh whatever, I'll just keep going where the path takes me. The levels are pretty linear so far and haven't required a whole lot of backtracking (unless I've missed a key and had to go back for it), so I can't really go wrong by taking the most obvious path. On the other hand, there's sometimes sneakier, more rewarding ways to get around if look around a bit first.


SOON.


Aha, I found Kyle's father's workshop, and a droid called WeeGee capable of decoding the disk. It turned out to be another holographic recording of his dad, with two important messages to relay:
  1. The ceiling to this room has a map to the ultra dangerous Valley of the Jedi drawn onto it. Sadly the entire ceiling has already been stolen by the Dark Jedi so that doesn't help me much.
  2. The droid has Rahn's lightsaber inside it. Seems like the kind of thing he should've held onto really seeing as he was clearly out doing stuff dressed like a Jedi in the intro.
Wait, the robot's called WeeGee and he's using it to relay messages from the dead? Wow, Star Wars usually isn't so subtle with its names.

It's a bit of a shame that the lightsaber is just given to Kyle, because the background on the setup menu implied that was going to get to build his own.

But hey, on the plus side I HAVE A LIGHTSABER NOW!


LEVEL 4: THE JEDI'S LIGHTSABER.


The lightsaber's a bit crap really.

Kyle does seem to wave his sword in different directions depending on which way I'm moving, but in the end all I'm really doing is clicking the mouse, running up to enemies to catch them with the swing, then backing away again before someone shoots me. I was having more luck sniping at them with my pistol really.

Oh hang on, I just automatically deflected something! Deflected bolts don't seem to hurt the enemies all that much, but at least they're not hurting me either. Shame he only deflects some of them and I have to have him pointed directly at the enemy for it to happen.

I think I'll be switching back to guns now. Maybe it's just because he's new with the blade and hasn't got any force powers yet, but so far this is mostly just like bringing a sword to a gunfight. Enemies die just as fast with a crossbow blast from half the map away.

Oh shit what are those things? Since when did Star Wars have cliff racers!

They darted at me so fast that I panicked and stepped backwards right off the viaduct. Crunch. Fortunately the game has Hotline Miami-speed reloads, restoring my last save and bringing me back into the fight instantly. Maybe next time I should give the sword another try... nah, too slow.

Damn, they're not any less creepy when they're dead. Spikes, a double barrelled scorpion tail, and a head like zombie-Godzilla. Ew.

They like to dodge out of the way of my shots and dart at me when they're close, so I'm going to have to be faster in future.


LATER, AFTER FINISHING THE LEVEL.


Jedi Knight force power allocation screen
By finishing the level I've unlocked Force Speed, my first Jedi power! I don't have to put points into it, but I've got nothing else to upgrade right now so I might as well. I'm not sure what the deal with the light/dark slider at the bottom is, but it seems like something I should be looking up as I doubt I'll figure it out myself through gameplay.

Alright it turns out that the power upgrade stars are actually earned by discovering secret areas, which seems like weird way of operating, considering how there's no way to go back and earn missing stars. First person shooters don't typically punish you too much in later levels for missing things early on.

The star on the morality scale is dragged further into the dark side by using dark side powers and murdering innocents, while using light side powers pulls it into the light. This only really has any effect when the story's wrapping up though, where you're firmly placed on either the light or dark side and eventually earn the appropriate FMV ending to match.


LEVEL 6: THE DARK PALACE.


STORMTROOPERS! I've finally found Stormtroopers!

I didn't realise how much I'd missed slaughtering these guys. There's a whole base full of them here, it's amazing. It's always nice to play a game that isn't afraid to put a shitload of enemies on screen at once every now and then. This is a really dumb thing I'm doing by the way, running right into the middle of them like this, and I love that it's working.


SOON.


One issue the game has though, is that sometimes it's a little too clever with its level design. The maps are really fricken' huge and sometimes I don't know whether I've hit a dead end or an obstacle to figure out. The way it uses keys is also a bit awkward, as they're often semi-hidden along the path to the locked door. Games like Doom and Quake use keys to send you backtracking through a map and make the levels last longer, but Jedi Knight just seems to want to make sure I'm paying attention so far.

This room actually forced me to use a walkthrough, as I figured out that the switches on each wall are both used to lower the outside gate (behind me to the right), but it never occurred to me that hitting them simultaneously would lower that inside gate I'm looking at as well. Now I simply have to crawl into one of those holes inside the teeth the top (where my crosshair's pointing), wait for it the gate to automatically rise again, then crawl into the locking mechanism in the ceiling before the bolts slam into place and crush me. So awesome.


LEVEL 7: YUN - THE DARK YOUTH.


Crap, I wasn't looking forward to this. At the top of the base I reached a boss fight against one of the Dark Jedi, and now I'm pretty much stuck using the sword... because I already used up all my explosives on him and he can deflect everything else. Oh plus he can blind me and turn invisible with the Force, while with my powers I can... run a bit faster sometimes.

He's a Jedi with years of training and duelling experience, I'm a guy who just found a sword, I'm not going to be able to win this fairly. Instead I'm basically just running up to him, swinging my sword, and running away again, over and over. If I hit him and get away with it then I quick save, if I take damage then I load it up again. It's a crappy way to fight a boss, but then it's kind of a crappy boss fight so somehow I'll find the strength to live with myself. I just want to move on to the next bit already!


EVENTUALLY.


Oh shit, I finally got the guy! Took me less than 10 minutes of hacking away at him in the end.

My reward is getting to watch Kyle hesitate, looking genuinely confused about what to do here. This may actually be the first time he's ever considered sparing someone, he's more of a 'shoot first, keep shooting until they're dead' kind of guy, but this guy assumes that he must be a Jedi and now he's got Kyle wondering what a Jedi would do here. Sure it's the typical 'you killed 500 of my goons to get here, but if you kill me then you're a monster' cliché, but I like that it's got Kyle thinking about whether he actually wants to be a Jedi Knight like his father or just a mercenary with Force powers. Probably.

One thing that's interesting is that he'll be entirely self-taught. He hasn't got a Yoda to make him run around in a swamp lifting things with his mind, or even an Obi-Wan showing him out to deflect blaster bolts, he's stuck figuring everything out for himself as he goes. But hey, he managed to take out this guy right? Even untrained he has a fighting chance here.

Oh fuck off Yoda, we don't need your negativity all over the back of the game box. Backwards talk you did not even bother to do, lazy your quote is.

Well I think this would be a good time to turn the game off. I've played a boss fight, I've used the lightsaber, I've gotten a Force power... I even managed to find some Stormtroopers to harass. Yeah I think I'm good here. Turning it off right now.


LATER.


Aww shit, I've got a railgun, with circular smoke trails and everything! Well actually the railgun is just the secondary fire mode, this primary fire is more of a BFG-style exploding energy projectile weapon. These automated ceiling turrets were such a pain in the ass back in Dark Forces, but now I am the master.

Of course it helps that I have quick saves instead of checkpoints and limited lives this time around. It does take away some of the tension, but the frustration I'm spared is well worth the trade off. In my humble opinion.

Anyway I'm just going to follow these pipes through the fuel station until I reach the ship they're hooked up to, and then I really am going to turn this off. And by 'turn this off' I mean 'keep playing but not show any more of the screenshots'.


SOON.


Max cameo Star Wars Jedi Knight
Hah, I had to leap from the disconnected fuel pipes on to the ship as it was leaving, and when I turned around this is what I saw. The secret Max faces of Jedi Knight.

In case you're wondering, yes this does mean that the rabbity thing has his own page on Wookiepedia.

In fact Max himself appears on an earlier level as a secret sidekick, but the charm wore off quickly when I realised he was useless and didn't want to go to any cool places with me.


CONCLUSION

For some reason I have always considered Star Wars: Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight I to be the janky flawed black sheep of the series, an early attempt at a full 3D shooter that's technically playable but awkward even compared to its contemporaries like GoldenEye and Quake II. And that's why I'm really glad I played it again, as it's actually WAY better than I remember it being.

Gameplay-wise it's basically an evolution of what what LucasArts did with Dark Forces two years earlier (which was an evolution of Doom). It's about moving fast and filling the air with gunfire, and they've got all the basics down right. Enemies take a second to react to your presence, shooting them makes them react in pain, their shots can be evaded, it's all good. They're all idiots of course, but I'm considering that a good thing too. On the other hand the lightsaber is a let down and the grenades are a pain in the ass (and having separate keys for jump and Force jump is just weird), but the core of it is sound.

Visually... well you can see how it looks for yourself. The cruel passage of time has left it looking a bit ass, but it's got that authentic Star Wars style and the graphics are definitely functional. I was never struggling to figure out what was shooting at me, which is something modern shooters have taught me not to take for granted any more.

Audioally... it sounds just like Star Wars! I mean seriously, it has the Star Wars movie soundtrack playing off one of the CDs the whole time, all the tunes that sounded great in their original context but sure got old once I'd heard them in a million other games. It really is a shame that the game didn't get a theme of its own and that there's no dynamic soundtrack in game. It would've been nice to for Kyle Katarn to have a hero theme of his own kick in when he did something awesome.

I was lost and frustrated, stuck in crappy boss battles and killed off by hidden landmines. I walked backwards into instant death chasms, struggled looking for keys in the dark, and managed to blow myself up with my own grenades every time I was dumb enough to give them another try. I came across a thousand and one little things that pissed me off and not one of them dampened my enthusiasm for starting up the next level and doing it all again. I'd say it deserves a prize for that.

    


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11 comments:

  1. That WeeGee / ouija thing is blowing my mind, I don't think I realised that when I played this a million years ago,

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    1. It flew way over my head at first as well. I didn't get it until I tried to work out why they didn't follow the standard Star Wars letter-number code for his name.

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  2. About having 3D maps in first person shooter, I'd suggest you try out the Descent series. I personaly liked Descent 3, but I have heard the second one is also good (the first game is kind of repetive and arcadey, even if the gameplay is about the same as in later ones).
    The 3D map in those games is basicly untextured low-poly version of the explored parts of the level that you can freely noclip around. They (at least in 3rd game) also had a small floating robot that you can order to guide you trough the level to any given point in the 3D map, or alternatively guide you to nearest health pick up or ammo crate.

    I would say it has been the best effort tackle the map issue in FPS games. It has some problems, as I have manged to get lost on both the real level and map screen at once and sometimes I felt that using the guidebot was almost cheating, but I can't imagine any way it could be done better.

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    1. The Descent series.... man, I haven't heard those games mentioned in forever. I'm sure I must have played one of them at some point but it's been long enough now that I haven't a clue what I thought about it. Though knowing me I probably got lost in the demo of Descent 1 and quit before finishing it.

      Next time I see them show up in a ridiculous sale I'll definitely have to snap one (or more) of them up and take another look.

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  3. 3d maps are never as good as they were suposed to be. it seems good inside this 3d world but.... they are so confuse. better with a 2d map with multiple floors.
    a request for ya: Super Mario Brothers (NES)

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    1. Okay I've put Mario on the request list, though you'll have to wait a long while for it I'm afraid as I can't fit any more 'S' games in this year. Or 'M' for that matter.

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    2. Hey!
      If I may also make an review reguest: A game from 1989 called 'Interphase' released atleast for Amiga and DOS. It has been sometimes refferred to me as a first first person shooter predating games like Wolfenstein 3D and Hovertank 3D.

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    3. I've given it a spot on the request list.

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  4. > "Dave has got an army waiting for me here as well."

    Oho, I see what you did there.

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  5. Are you gonna give Jedi Outcast a try?

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