Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast box artYeah yeah, I know… according to the opinions of my web related peers, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC) is supposed to be the greatest thing since Britney Spears’ implants. Much like a moth to a flame, I bought the hype and expected an exciting and unique experience from this latest entry in the large Star Wars-themed line of video games. However, after much play, I can quite easily say that this game has been considerably overrated.

I’ll give credit where it’s due and admit that the story, voice-acting and implementation of “Force” powers in Jedi Knight II are all pretty nifty, but when you get right down to it, the dismal gameplay makes an otherwise good game a serious disappointment.

For starters, the level design is extremely generic, and for what seems like 99% of the time, all you’ll be doing is running through corridor after corridor looking for switches and keys to open doors. To make matters worse, the ill-conceived levels are absolutely littered with cheap, insta-death jumps and unnecessarily mind-numbing puzzles. All too often you’ll hit switches and have no idea which door or item you’ve just activated, as most of the puzzle elements are spread out in the most convoluted of ways. While playing through the game, it seemed like I would get seriously stuck every 15 minutes or so on just about every level. If the inane level/puzzle design wasn’t holding me back, then the cheap shots by the enemies or the irritating jumping obstacles were. Needless to say, the frustration level ran pretty high with this game and if it weren’t for my proficient use of the “insta-save/insta-load” tactic, I would have given up at about level 3.

I’ve often heard that even though the game is really lame in the first few levels (and they are indeed extremely lame), things improve greatly once you acquire the light saber and Force powers. While things are more interesting once you receive your Jedi powers, it’s nowhere near the level of improvement that I had been led to believe. The light saber, although visually neat, seemed little more than a typical melee weapon found in other FPS titles. And the cool Force powers often end up making the game even more irritating, as several of the puzzles involve “Force pushing” & “Force pulling” boxes and the like.

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

There’s no denying that the game looks great.

I have a feeling that if this game didn’t come with the Star Wars franchise attached to it, there wouldn’t be 1/10th of the support for it that there is now. Then again, the fanatical, 1st person, PC gamer crowd all too often seem content to play the same game over and over again, so maybe I’m wrong about that. All I know is that even though I love Star Wars, this title seems like a sub-par “corridor game” that I’ve played dozens of times before. Sure, the game strives to be innovative with the Force power elements, but these innovations are minimal at best; especially when factored into the frustrating level designs.

All in all, it’s worth a look if you’re a die-hard FPS and/or Star Wars geek, but don’t expect anything innovative or even all that enjoyable.