I hope that whoever wished upon the monkey’s paw five years ago for Star Wars to come back is happy with themselves. Now that the paw has curled, we as a society find ourselves in a constant flood of new Star Wars content that has made even the most devout of fans want to claw their eyes out. Three new movies! No, six! Nine?! A TV show, too! Maybe three! Plus a dozen comics! A theme park! Yoda bananas!
There is so much new Star Wars media pouring out from every cultural orifice, and now, some of that new media is actually… old media?
Yes, the latest Star Wars game and the premiere of the timeless sci-fi series on the Nintendo Switch is actually a re-release of a 17-year-old video game, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. Set a few years after Return of the Jedi, Jedi Outcast focuses on the trials and tribulations of the smarmy lightsaber-wielder Kyle Katarn.
There’s a lot of critical acclaim for this game, thanks to its reputation for having some of the best lightsaber combat in any Star Wars game. I can certainly attest to the fact that swinging that saber and flinging Force Lightning at unsuspecting Stormtroopers and Cantina mercenaries feel just as fun as ever. The movement of your character and your camera dictate the delicate sway and stance of your saber, and the seamless way that your blade carves into walls and cleanly slices through enemies gives even modern sword-combat games a run for their money.
Unfortunately, Jedi Outcast is not a constant parade through lightsaber lane. See, Kyle Katarn is a mercenary who reluctantly chooses to wield a lightsaber. What this means for the player is that the first quarter of the game is 100% lightsaber free. Even after obtaining your Jedi blade, you’ll still be whipping out various blasters and bowguns throughout the campaign. While Jedi combat is fun and frenetic, the shooting in Jedi Outcast is anything but. Aiming your gun at constantly-strafing enemies is an extreme frustration, and the number of hits it takes to down them compared to how fragile your own character is would often drive me insane.
As I struggled to maintain composure while conquering corridor after corridor of mind-numbing first-person shooter encounters, I also had to juggle the frustrations of a buggy save-system. My entire time playing through the first level, I was only given one checkpoint a few minutes into the entire hour-long encounter. In subsequent levels, I would sometimes see no checkpoints at all.
Without even an autosave system to help me, I was forced to constantly pop into the pause menu and manually save in order to protect my progress. Careful, though; you’re capped at having a paltry 5 manual saves, meaning you’ll need to constantly perform house-cleaning and delete older saves to make room for new ones. Oh, but don’t get rid of too many. On multiple occasions, I had only 1 save file in my list and discovered that the game would glitch out and prevent me from loading that save file until another one populated the list. With a lack of a level select or frequent checkpoints, this five-save cap is outright madness considering the length and difficulty of Jedi Outcast.
Thankfully, it’s the only technical fumble in the game. Everything else, whether docked or undocked, is flawless. Framerate is a smooth 60, and the resolution is always sharp. While character models and textures remain untouched from the original release, the modern resolution at least means that certain details pop particularly well. New motion-controls also add an interesting new way to control the action, although they fail to make the clunky gunplay any more satisfying. There’s also consistently sharp sound design in Jedi Outcast, with various sound effects that are sure to please die-hard Star Wars fans.
Those same fans are likely to be upset at the fact that the most important mode of Jedi Outcast, multiplayer, is entirely absent in this release. When they announced port of this game and Jedi Academy, the developers said that multiplayer of some kind would arrive sometime next year. Without a concrete when or even how set in place, though, it’s a little concerning to be re-releasing one of the most acclaimed multiplayer Star Wars games without the multiplayer included at all.
Jedi Outcast is a fun trip down memory lane. However, newcomers are likely to be too put off by the frustrations and poorly-aged game design of an ultimately incomplete port of a once-incredible title.
A review code was provided by the publisher.