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Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Raven Software, Activision
Media: CD/2
Players: 1, (2 - 32 Online)
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

The latest game in the Jedi Knight line, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, takes the skills, ideas, strategies and overall coolness of being a Jedi (dark or light) that were defined and refined in JK I and JK II to a whole new level.

The graphics alone are high-powered enough to make you take notice; from the lush forest moon of Yavin IV to the deserts of Tatooine, it is obvious that this game is not lacking in graphical prowess. And, to top it all off, the game displays these wonderful graphics without dropping the frame rate (well that isn't exactly true - whenever I found myself in a river or stream, I had some problems, but I attributed that to my computer meeting the minimum system requirements).

The sound effects for Jedi Academy are done rather well; they don't tend to get too bland or repetitive. As far as the music is concerned, it is done in the typical Star Wars - John Williams' style, but typically won't be remembered once the game is off.


Gameplay:

I guess the first major aspect to notice in Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is the sheer number of possible Jedi that you can make as your avatar. And that would be, let me see here... carry the two...take the sum of the products and 10,260 different avatars (not counting the many different lightsaber combinations, of course)... Like I said, the numbers are impressive enough, but these alone don't make the game.

You play as Jaden, a new recruit at Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy who is being trained under Kyle Katarn, the main character from the previous Jedi Knight games. While training, you will go on many missions and will eventually learn to use different lightsabers. You will have to choose between the standard single saber, the double-bladed saber or duel sabers, each with their own assortment of specialized attacks and moves. On top of having the option of using the blade of your choice, you will also be given the chance to choose a second style lightsaber combat. The first and standard style is called Medium, it's speed and range are average and all Jedi can use this. When the time comes, you will choose between the Fast (efficient swings, but limited range allowing for many follow-up attacks) and the Strong (powerful attacks that do more damage, but are typically slower) styles.

Don't get me wrong now, the lightsaber may be the coolest weapon in the game and the one that everyone is dying to try out, but there is also a large assortment of other weapons as well. With 12 blasters, detonators and mines at your disposal, you are not, by any means, limited to just your skills with the blade. With the exception of the lightsaber, you see the game in a first-person perspective (with the lightsaber out, it is third-person view).

Along with these weapons, no Jedi can be expected to go into battle without a variety of Force Powers. All the ones you would expect to see are here (Push, Pull, Dark Lightning, Heal etc.) as well as some others. You can use these powers along with the lightsaber to pull off some spectacular feats while locked in battle with your enemies.

There are even several different multiplayer modes that come with Academy. These games include the traditional 'Free For All', 'Duel' and 'Capture the Flag', as well as several new games like 'Siege', where teams attempt to either complete objectives, or prevent the other team from doing so, and 'Power Duel' (this game puts two competitors in a room with a more powerful enemy in a two-on-one death match).


Difficulty:

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy has four difficulty settings, Padawan, Jedi, Jedi Knight, Jedi Master, and each level has noticeable differences. The enemies might be stronger in higher difficulties, or lower their guard more often in lower ones, and it was a definite help the first time I ran the game.

Personally it was a rough start for me, simply because I had to get used to manipulating a lightsaber and getting the blade to hit what I was attacking. Once I got over this minor difficulty, I was able to throw myself into the game fully and without many problems (though I do not consider myself a Jedi Master, and didn't dare attempt to play through the entire game on that setting).


Game Mechanics:

The control scheme for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy seems to fall victim to the same problem that many PC Action/Adventure have -- there are just too many buttons to keep track of. The basic movement is okay, look around with the mouse, walk with the W-A-S-D keys, but when it comes to using/selecting your Force Powers as well as interacting with the environment, it tends to get a little out of control (really, no pun intended, I swear). But if you can get past this flaw, you will have no problems with Jedi Academy at all.

Those of you who have been following the Jedi Knight line should definitely pick up this gem (yes, even though you are no longer playing as Kyle). It is a good, solid game that will keep you locked in for hours on end as you attempt to use the force (for the light or dark) to get past the many obstacles that lay ahead of you.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/ME/2K/XP; DirectX 9.0a, Pentium III or Athlon class450 MHz or faster CPU; 128MB RAM, 256 MB RAM recommended; 32 MB Open GL 1.4 compatible PCI or AGP 3D Hardware Accelerator required; 16-bit DirectX9.0a compatible sound card; Quad Speed IDE or SCSI CD-ROM
 

Test System:



Toshiba Satellite series laptop; Windows XP Home Ed.; 2.0 GHz Celeron; 512 MB RAM; 24X DVD/CD ROM; 32 MB 3D accelerator.

Windows Scooby Doo: Case Files 1: The Glowing Bug Man Windows X-Plane 7.0

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated