Star Wars: Jedi Knight (series)
|Star Wars: Jedi Knight|
|LucasArts, Raven Software|
First video game
|Star Wars: Dark Forces|
|Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation, Xbox and GameCube|
Star Wars: Jedi Knight, originally known as Star Wars: Dark Forces, is a first-person shooter video game series based on the fictional Star Wars universe. The series primarily focuses on Kyle Katarn, a character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The series is published by LucasArts.
The Jedi Knight series began in 1995 with the release of Star Wars: Dark Forces for DOS, Apple Macintosh and the Sony PlayStation. This was followed in 1997 by Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II in which Katarn learns the ways of a Jedi. LucasArts developed Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith as an expansion pack for Dark Forces II, this time giving the player control of Mara Jade as well as Katarn. In 2002, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast was added to the series. Jedi Outcast was developed by Raven Software and is powered by the Quake III: Team Arena game engine. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy followed in 2003, powered by the same game engine. Jedi Academy was the first game in the series where the player does not control Kyle Katarn at any point in the game, though he is featured prominently in the storyline.
The games in the Jedi Knight series have received generally favorable reviews. Multiple publications have commented on the quality of the series as a whole, with GameNOW describing it as "consistently great." The use of the lightsaber in the game, a prominent gameplay element, has received specific praise for its implementation in the series.
Overview[edit | edit source]
Story[edit | edit source]
Before the events in Dark Forces, Katarn was a student learning the skills required to follow in his fathers career of agricultural mechanics. While he was studying at an academy, he was told by officials that rebels had killed his parents. The pain from this caused him to enlist in the Imperial army. Katarn met Jan Ors who was undercover as a double agent and they got to know each other. Ors uncovered the real information about Katarn's parents which detailed that it was really the Empire that was behind their death. Ors' cover was eventually blown and she was taken prisoner. Katarn helped her escape, thus ending his career with the Empire. Katarn soon became a mercenary and due to his hatred for the Empire for killing his parents he takes on jobs from the Rebel Alliance.
Katarn recovers the plans to the Death Star, a heavily armed space station capable of destroying planets. The Rebel Alliance use the plans to find a weakness in and then destroy the Death Star. Katarn then aids the Rebels in stopping the threat of the Imperial dark trooper project. Despite the successful missions on behalf of the Rebel Allience, Katarn still does not join their cause. After the destruction of the second Death Star in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Katarn is informed of the exact details of his father's death. His father, Morgan Katarn had discovered the location of "The Valley of the Jedi", a source of great Force power. A Dark Jedi named Jerec who desired the power murdered Katarn's father. Katarn travelled to the Valley of the Jedi while learning to be a Jedi himself to confront Jerec and avenge his murdered father.
Katarn's run-in with Jerec left caused him to distance himself with The Force and to return to mercenary missions with Jan Ors. in Jedi Outcast, Ors is captured by Desann, a former pupil of Luke Skywalker who turned to evil. Katarn believed Desann to have killed Ors and so he attempts to relearn The Force to be able to stop Desann. After Katarn learns Desann faked Ors' death to learn the location of the valley of the Jedi and use the force power held there to launch an assault on the Jedi temple, Katarn defeats Skywalker's old apprentice and discovers his true force-led path, and becomes a tutor at the Jedi Academy. Katarn takes on two students, Jaden Korr and Rosh Penin.
In the next installment, Jedi Academy, the player takes the role of Jaden Korr, who is dispatched on various peace-keeping missions across the galaxy. He eventually encounters a Sith cult lead by Tavion, a former apprentice of Kyle's nemesis Desann, who plans to restore the Sith to power by using the stolen Force energy to resurrect an ancient Sith Lord, Marka Ragnos. After learning that Rosh has betrayed the Jedi and joined Tavion, Jaden may either kill him and turn to the dark side, let him live and stay on the light side.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
The Jedi Knight series is primarily a first-person shooter with several recurring gameplay elements. Each game uses level based system which contains a series of objectives that must be completed before the player can continue. From Dark Forces II, the series included lightsaber combat and use of Force powers, which were tweaked and developed as the series progressed.
In the first game, Dark Forces, the focus is on combat against various creatures and characters from the Star Wars universe, including environmental puzzles and hazards also, following a central storyline outlined in mission briefings and cut scenes. For combat, the player may use fists, explosive land mines and thermal detonators, as well as blasters and other ranged weapons, leaning more towards ranged combat. In Dark Forces II an option was added to give the player a third person view, with an option to automatically switch to third-person when the lightsaber is the selected weapon. Three types of Force powers are introduced in this game: Light powers provide non violent advantages, Dark powers provides violent ones, while Neutral ones enhance athletic abilities. The two endings focus on either the Light Side or the Dark Side. Unlike the predecessor, Mysteries of the Sith, has a single, morally positive course. The player progresses through the game in a linear fashion, and includes enemies featured in Dark Forces II as well as new monsters. The player has access to Force powers and to projectile weapons such as a blaster or rail gun, and the lightsaber. Jedi Outcast's gameplay is similar to that of its predecessors, with a couple of small additions such as access to gun turrets, or use of combos unique to each of the three lightsaber styles in the game. The use of the Force powers is restricted by a "Force Meter", which depletes with use of powers. In Jedi Academy, the player may customize the lightsaber, and later in the game has the option of choosing dual sabers, or a "saber staff" similar to Darth Maul's double ended lightsaber in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Instead of moving linearly from one level to the next, the player chooses from a selection of different missions. The game also introduces player-controllable vehicles and vehicle-based levels.
Starting with the second installment of Jedi Knight, a multiplayer mode is included, in which up to eight people to compete with each other on a local area network and up to four people online. The player creates an avatar within Jedi Knight and selects a ranking, where the higher ones have more Force powers available to use by the avatar. There are two types of game that can be played in Jedi Knight's multiplayer mode, capture the flag and Jedi Training mode, similar to deathmatch. Mysteries of the Sith includes fifteen multiplayer maps, four of which only allow players to battle with lightsabers, and a ranking system that tracks the player's experience. The multiplayer mode allows the use of pre-set characters featured in both Mysteries of the Sith and Dark Forces II, including characters from the Star Wars films, such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Boba Fett.The capture the flag multiplayer mode has been altered, by reducing the force powers of the player who is carrying the flag. Jedi Outcast features a set of multiplayer modes: in the PC and Macintosh versions, these can be played over LAN or the Internet, but is limited to two players on the console versions. There are a variety of game modes (examples are free-for-all, team deathmatch and capture the flag, Power Duel, Siege) which can be played with other players, bots, or both. Jedi Academy introduces several multiplayer modifications, such as Movie Battles II which allows players to take part in lightsaber duels that featured in the Star Wars films. Movie Battles lets players choose different classes of character, ranging from Jedi Knight to Wookiee.
Games[edit | edit source]
- Star Wars: Dark Forces was produced by the LucasArts Entertainment Company and released in 1995 for the PC, Macintosh, and PlayStation. It was the first officially produced first-person shooter set in the Star Wars universe.
- Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II was developed and published by LucasArts and released on October 9, 1997 for Microsoft Windows.
- Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith is an expansion pack for Dark Forces II. It was developed and published by LucasArts and released on January 31, 1998 for Microsoft Windows. The expansion includes a single-player mode and fifteen multiplayer maps.
- Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast was developed by Raven Software and published by LucasArts and Activision. The PC version was released in early 2002 and the Mac OS, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube versions were released in late 2002.
- Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was developed by Raven Software and published, distributed and marketed by LucasArts in North America and by Activision in the rest of the world. Jedi Academy was released in September 2003 for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Xbox platforms.
Development[edit | edit source]
Production of Star Wars: Dark Forces began in September 1993, with Daron Stinnett as the project leader, and Justin Chin as the storyline writer. The developers wanted to adapt the first-person shooter format to include strategy and puzzles. Dark Forces features logic puzzles and parts of the game requires a strategic method to progress that may involve manipulating the environment, a style that has remained present in all games in the series. Another aspect that has remained the same since Dark Forces is the use of John Williams' soundtrack used in the Star Wars films. In Dark Forces the music was implemented using iMuse, software that alters the music depending on what is happening at that moment in the game. Lucasarts developed the Jedi game engine to power Dark Forces, adding features to the first-person shooter genre that were uncommon at the time. These include multi-level floors, free look and athletic abilities such as running, jumping, ducking and swimming. Original plans for the game had Luke Skywalker as the main character, but due to the limitations this would impose on the story and gameplay, the developers designed a new character, Kyle Katarn. To accompany the Jedi Knight series, three novels written by William C. Dietz were produced, which were adapted into audio dramatizations. Before the release of Dark Forces Chin had already planned out Katarn's role in Dark Forces II, indicating that Katarn would face a "big trial" in the game that would be a "rite of passage."
Justin Chin became project leader for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, released on October 9, 1997. In Dark Forces II, the digital sound was replaced with CD audio. Dark Forces II adds two "Jedi" aspects to the series; the use of The Force and the lightsaber. The Force plays an integral role in how the player plays the game. The method of allocating credits to Force powers was designed with an RPG style in mind, allowing the player the choice of which powers to improve. Chin said in an early interview that progress in the game is based upon the abilities the player develops. A new game engine called Sith was developed for Dark Forces II, which uses both 3D graphics and sound. It is one of the early games to adopt the use of 3D graphics hardware acceleration using Microsoft Direct3D. Dark Forces II moved on from static images between levels to full motion video cutscenes. The characters are represented by live actors while the backgrounds are pre-rendered graphics. The cutscenes included the first lightsaber footage filmed since Return of the Jedi in 1983. Dark Forces II also introduced multiplayer gaming to the series, allowing players to play online or over a local area network. Multiplayer gaming has since remained a part of the series.
Nearly four years after the release of Dark Forces II, LucasArts announced at E3 2001 that they will be producing Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast for release in 2002. Unlike previous games in the series, Jedi Outcast was not developed in-house by LucasArts, but by Raven Software instead. The subsequent success of Jedi Outcast caused LucasArts to decide to continue the partnership with the development of Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy a year later. "With the overwhelming success and critical acclaim of Star Wars: Jedi Outcast, continuing an alliance with Activision and Raven Software was a clear and very easy decision," said president of LucasArts, Simon Jeffery. Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy are both powered by the Quake III: Team Arena game engine with modifications for the use of a lightsaber and The Force.
Jedi Academy is the only game in the Jedi Knight series that does not give the player control of Kyle Katarn at any point in the game. Instead the focus is on Jaden Korr, a student learning the to be a Jedi under Katarn. The decision to make the change of characters was made by the developers for gameplay reasons.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Each of the games in the Dark Forces series was received well. The series itself has been described as "highly acclaimed". The series has also been noted by IGN as one of few Star Wars themed video game franchises that is of high quality on the PC platform. GamersMark.com called the series "rather entertaining." In 1995, Dark Forces became LucasArts' highest sell-in with more than 300,000 copies accounted for at launch. GameNOW believes the series to be "consistently great."
Individually, each game in the series was generally received well by critics. Games in the series achieved consistently favorable review scores from publications. The only exception is the Sony PlayStation version of Dark Forces which was perceived to have problems and received an aggregate score of 60%.
Games in the Jedi Knight series received specific commendation and awards. Dark Forces II was judged to be the best game of the year for 1997 by five publications, and made number one position PC Gamer's "50 best games ever" list in 1998. Jedi Outcast was a finalist in The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences "Interactive Achievement Awards" in the 2002 Game of the Year category. The game also received commendation from PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World.
Gameplay aspects of the series were received well. The lightsaber charted and number 7 in UGO Networks's countdown of the 50 best weapons in video games. The publication commented that using such a weapon in a game was "extremely satisfying" and stated that the lightsaber was refined as the Jedi Knight series continued.
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