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Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy Preview
developer: Raven Software
PIII 450 , 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Sep 16, 03 (released)
|» All About Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy on ActionTrip|
For a long time I have been a hopeless Star Wars devotee, collecting action figures, comics, books, watching the classic trilogy over and over again... In short, I was doing all the things any loyal Star Wars fan would do. Throughout the years there hasn't been a single LucasArts title that wouldn't slip through my hands. Yet, in spite of all those classics from X-Wing to Dark Forces and Rogue Squadron, I never seem to find a Star Wars game that would draw me in as much as the movie saga itself. Yeah, I know what you're gonna say, "the movies are a completely different experience." But somewhere along the road you realize it all amounts to the same thing - being entertained. In any case, CPU technology is progressing at a great rate and I've known several video games that would offer a more entertaining experience than some of those crappy blockbuster movies. Using an enhanced Quake III engine, Raven Software and Activision have cooperated with LucasArts to liven up the gaming scene with a fast-paced action game, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. For the very first time, players got a chance to use the renowned Jedi lightsaber in full 3D combat against other lightsaber-wielding Sith opponents. As it turned out, the game offered quite an impressive range of lightsaber moves and force skills. Numerous Star Wars ranged weaponry was included to boot, but I think we all know that the saber duels and deflecting laser fire have remained the very essence of the gameplay in Jedi Knight.
Today, after a year or so, LucasArts decided to expand Jedi Knight by re-hiring Activision and Raven Software to do the job once more. Developed simultaneously for Xbox and PC platforms, Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is going to differ from its successful predecessor in many ways.
The center of the storyline has now shifted from renowned Jedi Knight character Kyle Katarn to the Jedi Academy and its faithful followers. To begin with, you'll be placed in the boots of a young Jedi, who enrolls into the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4 to study the ways of the force under Luke Skywalker himself (an everlasting Star Wars icon). Presently, we don't exactly know how the plot will go from here (will it follow the Yuuzhan Vong series depicted in the novels?), but you can be sure that we'll be looking at another immersive and exciting epic type of scenario. Also, the developers seen confident in their effort to include a lengthy non-linear plot, which gives you the opportunity to choose the missions you'd like to go on. Of course, it's up to you feel the Force and find out which path is right for you... Another good thing we've learned is that Jedi Academy will be twice as long as the previous game.
The main difference between the Jedi Academy and Jedi Outcast is the innovative character creation system, which will allow players to customize their characters before they can begin their journeys. Unsurprisingly, you can choose your path through the ways of the Force as you progress through the game. LucasArts wasn't prepared to be specific on new force abilities, however we do know that there a whole bunch of new ones were added and some of the old ones were slightly modified. If any of you have played trough the entire Jedi Outcast game (which should be...everyone), you are fully aware of how important force powers are to the gameplay. Once you've advanced all your skills to the highest level, and with the help of those nifty lightsaber moves, there's nothing that can get in your way. Enhancing these aspects is definitely a step in the right direction. Next to character customization, players will be able to construct their own lightsabers, which stands as a largely unexplored part of Star Wars mythology. Although we have yet to learn exactly how this system will work, so far it is clear that young Jedi recruits can modify the handle and the color of the lightsaber, thereby determining which type of saber is best suited for their unique character.
In terms of combat, it looks as if Raven is adding a number of improvements. Amongst other things, we are most interested in finding out how the double-bladed lightsaber will perform. The infamous weapon of Sith apprentice Darth Maul is only one of the delicacies you'll be running into. There's also a new range of moves designed for close combat, such kicks, bashes, etc. (remember - Jedi training involves martial arts skill, as well!). We're sure that all of these new moves are going to be carried out successfully by the development team at Raven. On a slightly disappointing point, even though Raven's effective GHOUL 2 technology played its part extremely well when it comes to truthful animation and model damage, it still doesn't seem to be enough for realistic and detailed environments and levels. At this point it is obvious that the game still clings to the confines of the old JK II engine (which was in actuality an enhanced version of the Quake 3 engine). On the other hand, Raven promised to make some improvements, so we're curious to find out what they are.
As for the general feeling here at the office, we are all looking forward to seeing what Raven is going to do with this one. Except perhaps Zveki, who's just sitting here mumbling something about major conglomerates and corporations that are always trying to lure the public by revamping old movie and game licenses. Well Zveki, and all others who happen to share this aforementioned sentiment, I have to say I agree... up to a point though. You see I'm just a sucker for those John Williams tunes, so most of the times I just need to hear a reminiscent Star Wars theme and that'd be enough for me (I guess they don't call me Vadar for nothing).
Although still far away from release, Jedi Academy has already shown decent potential. Whatever the case, it seems like this title may have something for average players as well as the ever-growing Star Wars community. But, will Jedi Academy wind up successful as Jedi Outcast? Well, it's hard to say at this point; right now even Yoda cannot see that fate. Additionally, many specifics concerning new vehicles, multiplayer modes, and all-new Star Wars environments are currently unknown. The coming weeks, however, should bring more updates on the development progress, and we'll be there to fill you in on the details. Jedi Academy, along with titles like SW: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars Galaxies, really gives Star Wars fans something to look forward this year. Oh yeah!
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