Hey there! DDdreamer here with another look at a game I like. This time I’m gonna delve into one
of the classics of computer gaming: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.
Released in 2003, the game quickly aquired a following that persists
to this day.

However, does the game still hold up in
2011? Is it still a good game? With these questions (and a desire to
see what all the hallaballo was about) I played through the entire
game in three days.

I’m gonna divide my thoughts of the
game into four different categories: Sound, Visuals, Gameplay and
Story. Towards the end, I’ll make a summary of my general thoughts of
the game.

SOUND:

The soundtrack for JA might feel too
familiar to some since it consists almost entirely of bits and pieces
of the music from the movie.  This familiarity works in the game’s
favour though, ensuring that the Star Wars-feel is enforced by the
sound effects and music as well as the graphics. All of it is blended
together seamlessly to create a nice, Star Wars-sounding track.

Now, about the sound effects. They are
in my opinion top notch. The lightsabers buzz and fizz like they’re
supposed to, the blaster fire sounds just like it’s supposed to. I
rarely, if ever came upon poor or unfitting sound effects.

All in all, the music and sound is of
high quality, although the voice acting could really be improved upon
in may cases (Looking at you, Tavion and male Jayden).

Choking here!

Really, it doesn't get more Star Wars than this~

VISUALS:

Since the game is from 2003 the visuals
obviously look quite dated. That’s not to say they’re bad. While the
textures are a tad blurry and the models a bit lo-poly, the overall
look of the game is not too bad. The environments are nice, detailed
and varied, as is the character design and particle effects. The high
and low-points of the visuals though, are the same thing: the
animations. The facial animations are horrendously stiff. This
actually impacts the overall presentation of the game as it’s hard to
get a feeling of danger or urgency when all bad news are presented by
what looks like  bad animatronic dolls. A muppet making a death
threat feels more threatening than the characters in the game.

Where the visuals really shine though,
is in the lightsaber animations. Unlike the facial animations, the
lightsaber moves are all fluid and elegant, with moves transiting
smoothly from one combo to another. Even changing fighting styles
mid-swing has little effect on the flow of the overall animations.
This is the reason why people like Jedi Academy so much. The
lightsaber combat is simply put, the best in any Star Wars game ever.
But more on that in my gameplay coverage.

Fzzt

You have to admit it, for a 2003 game it (and the jedi in the picture) looks pretty kickass.

GAMEPLAY:

The gameplay in JK can best be
described as a first-person shooter/third-person slash-em-up hybrid.
As a jedi, you’ll spend most of your time in third-person mode,
swinging your lightsaber about. First-person mode is easily accessed
by switching to one of your firearms, although you can easily play
through the game using only the lightsaber and your force powers. The
levels themselves are varied, but straightforward. Your goals mostly
involve getting to X or pulling lever Y. Not to say that the game is
boring, far from it. The environments and enemies are varied
regularly to keep things fresh, so nothing ever gets boring. Once
you’ve grown tired of the city level you’re on, you’ll complete the
mission and start another mission on, say, a desert planet with sand
people as your main enemy.

The game also has a couple of
RPG-aspects as it employs several (rather simple) character
progression mechanics as well as a (rather limited) character
creation system. The progression mechanic is the ability to upgrade
your force powers using points gained from your missions. Force
powers are divided into three cathegories: Dark, Light and Neutral.
Sadly, you’re limited to upgrade only our dark and light side powers,
as your neutral powers improve automatically. I’d say that’s a missed
opportunity at making the character progression system more
interesting. The second aspect of character progression is also your
most iconic: your lightsaber. At the start of the game, you get to
choose the hilt design and blade colour of your sword and as the game
progresses, you unlock new fighting styles and saber designs. Sadly,
you always start out with a single, mono-bladed lightsaber, knowing
only the medium-style of lightsaber combat. I’d personally have
preferred if you could choose your style from the beginning of the
game. As it stands now, it’ll take you 1/3rd of the game
to unlock a new combat style and 2/3rds of the game to unlock new
lightsaber variants.

The three fighting available in the
game are the fast style (short range, low damage, extremely quick
attacks, good against many foes.), strong style (Slow attacks, low
defenses, Great range, high damage) and medium style (neither good
nor bad at anything in particular.). The lightsaber variants are
dual-wielding (Good defensively, especially against blasters.) and
double-edged saber (Good offensively, but rather iffy on the
defensive side.). It would have been much more interesting had you
been able to choose any one of these styles or variants at the
beginning of the game.

Badass

You should be able to be this badass at the start of the game

STORY:

This is where the game falters in my
opinion. The overall concept is pretty neat (You’re a trainee at Luke
Skywalker’s Jedi Academy.), but the story and it’s progression is
just meh. The game is basically divided into three ”arcs”, each
arc containing five normal missions and one plot mission that’ll be
unlocked once you’ve finished four normal missions.

What ruins the story is a distinctive
lack of threat. You never get the feeling that there’s something bad
going on and that you have to hurry to fix it all. Instead you’re fed
plot updates by Luke in between missions. It’s just hard to take
these ”grim” news seriously when you have little to no
involvement in them. You do your mission, get back, Luke tells that
shit’s hit the fan once again, everyone gets depressed, you go on new
missions… The only story-heavy missions in the game are the three
big plot-missions. This is far from enough to get you involved in the
actual story and it’s intricasies (if there are any).

Another thing that brings the story
down is the bland main villian. You get a sith lord called Tavion
who’s basically an ass just because she’s pissed at your master, Kyle
Katarn. She has no depth and no character development. She’s
notintimidating and the final boss fight with her feels little
different from fighting one of her goons. Even Tavion’s apprentice is
more interesting than Tavion herself.

Tavion is bland

Tavion, the least threatening Sith lord in...ever

SUMMARY:

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is not a game
you should play if you want a deep, intruiging story. Instead, it’s a
very good hack ‘n slash-game, with interesting missions, a decent
character progression system and good combat mechanics. Even though
it’s old, the game still holds up today due to it’s fluent and
polished lightsaber combat system and it’s popular multiplayer mode
(which I haven’t played yet.). If you like Star Wars and are a fan of
lightsaber combat, I highly recommend picking this game up on Steam.

That is all

D3