We get a first-hand look at the next Jedi Knight game in development at Raven Software.
Having produced both Dark Forces and Jedi Knight, LucasArts is no stranger to quality first-person shooters. Released two years apart, both games won critical acclaim and saw enough commercial success to warrant a third entry, Jedi Outcast, in the series, which was unveiled to the public only at last year's E3 in Los Angeles. The game is primarily being developed externally at Wisconsin-based Raven Software, where it's currently nearing completion. In fact, Jedi Outcast officially entered the beta stage of development last week and seems to be on schedule for a release in late March or early April of this year. Recently, LucasArts producer Brett Tosti swung by our offices to show off this beta build of Jedi Outcast and demonstrate the different multiplayer modes, showcase the arsenal of weapons, and talk about the various force powers that will ultimately be available in the game.
As anyone who's been following this game's progress for the past year surely knows, Kyle Katarn, everyone's favorite brooding hero with Jedi powers, reprises his role as the main character of Jedi Outcast. While LucasArts is still keeping a tight lid on the details of the plot for fear of spoiling the game prematurely, we do know that the game takes place nearly 10 years after the events of Jedi Knight and its Mysteries of the Sith expansion pack, which would explain Katarn's beard and graying hair. Even though he gave up his lightsaber at the end of the last game, something happens to Katarn, and it compels him to seek it out. And in the process, it rekindles his mastery of the force, which has slipped with the passing of time. Tosti explained that--like the other games in the series--Jedi Outcast is very story driven, and in his quest to regain his force powers, Katarn will interact with many other characters, including his longtime sidekick and pilot Jan Ors, as well as the Jedi master himself, Luke Skywalker.
However, Tosti was quick to point out that the method in which the story progresses and, specifically, the manner in which Katarn reacquires all his old force powers will be markedly different this time around. Jedi Knight had some role-playing elements, like allocating certain force "points" to strengthen existing force powers or learning new ones altogether. And depending on which force powers you chose, Katarn would stray to either the dark side or the light side of the force. In Jedi Outcast, this gameplay mechanic is missing--you simply won't be able to choose how Kyle progresses, and you won't have two outcomes. Instead, Jedi Outcast's progression is set in stone. That's not to say that Jedi Outcast is linear--certainly, many levels will often have multiple paths or different ways of solving any given puzzle--but you'll get specific force powers at exact points throughout the game, no matter how you play. "This allows our level designers to create areas that are specifically suited to your powers," explained Tosti. "For example, if we give you force jump at the end of, say, the first level, then we can add an area in the second level that'll require you to use that power. We couldn't do that in Jedi Knight."
Almost all of the force powers from Jedi Knight will be available for Katarn to use in Jedi Outcast, including a handful of new ones, such as force choke and mind trick. What's more, every one of these force powers will be "upgradeable" up to three times, and the overall effect will be quite noticeable. The first iteration of force pull, for example, will give Katarn the ability to knock enemies off their feet. With the second, slightly enhanced version of that ability, Katarn will be able to disarm enemies from a distance, while the most powerful force pull available will let him actually strip a weapon off someone and use it as his own. Likewise, the ultimate form of force choke will let you hold enemies in midair and throw them in any direction--including onto a group of onrushing storm troopers--with a flick of your mouse. These enhanced force powers will undoubtedly go a long way in making you feel like an honest-to-goodness Jedi master and not just a padawan dabbler.
- Release Date: Mar 26, 2002 (EU)
- Release Date: Nov 22, 2002 (EU)
- Release Date: Nov 5, 2002 (US)