2003 was a great year for Video Games, bringing us games such as Knights of the Old Republic, Tony Hawk’s Underground and Call of Duty. But there is one game that, unfortunately, does not get as much of a mention.
I remember playing this game on my original Xbox as a kid and replaying this has made me very nostalgic. It surprisingly holds up to this day, with its core gameplay of closing distance on your enemies in order to slash them with your lightsaber, deciding to shoot them with an array of guns, or even using your force powers to take down or distract your enemies. You also come across levels that change up the gameplay, giving you missions in which you crash land on a sand planet where you have to platform to avoid the giant sand worm from eating you as you try to collect items to repair your ship, or missions in which you jump on a speeder and either try to go so fast the enemies can never catch up to you, or go a little bit slower, allowing you to battle enemies as they fly past, shooting at you, while you try to swipe at them with your lightsaber. These missions, albeit fun and at times hard, are also optional, plus the difficulty definitely spikes when you finish the story missions, this in turn then gives you a new set of non-story missions that gives you the option to upgrade your base force powers and give you either a new fighting style or a new type of lightsaber. All this together means it paces along beautifully.
Each non-story mission you complete allows you to put a point in one of 8 force abilities, one half representing the light side, the other half representing the dark side. You can put up to 3 points in each ability, increasing their power significantly, such as a wider arc of lightning for force lightning, or being able to use force heal while moving.
Between each story mission you have to do 4 out 5 missions, although it doesn’t matter the order in which you do them. You can, however, choose to do all 5 missions which then allows you to put an extra point into a force ability. Plus after each mission it has a couple cool features like showing you how many times you’ve used a particular force ability on that mission.
The game has a few different types of enemies, from standard bandits and stormtroopers, to melee and ranged droids, to a few different types of sith. The main difference between these types of sith is how skilled they are in combat. However there are some that have no lightsaber at all, and rely purely on the force to fight you. These enemies can be annoying to deal with since you can’t always get close to them as they’ll just force push you back, or force push away any projectiles you fire at them. Although in saying this, using your own force powers makes them easier to deal with. The enemies that tend to stand out the most though are the different bosses and monsters in the game, such as wampas and rancors. These enemies though they only have melee abilities and aren’t particularly fast, are big and very hard to take down, although not impossible. In the first mission that you see a Rancor, you have to save prisoners who have been put in a maze-like area with a raging rancor. The area is very cool, seeing the betting areas for bandits and the different platforms where they watch the prisoners run for their life. While the level design is cool, the big question is, can you kill the rancor? The answer is………. yes, you can. However, when you do, the rancor will just respawn, simply delaying it on its murderous rampage.
This game is the only one of the Jedi Knight games that allows you to create your own character, giving you 5 different species to choose from, human, twi’lek, rodian, zabrak, and Kel Dor. The human is the only species that has options for both male and female, the others have specific genders assigned to them. Each species has its own unique sets of hairstyles/faces and clothes to choose from. It’s quite bare bones but is one of the few games in its time to have character customization.
Overall Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is an awesome game, and it is well worth a play if you have around $30 to get it on the Nintendo Switch or PS4. Honestly, the game is a little short, be that as it may, it does have multiplayer if you want to verse some of your friends in some good ol’ lightsaber duels. Saying all this though, do not let the short story dissuade you from purchasing this game. It is iconic and rests in the heart of many Star Wars fans, definitely pick yourself up a copy, as this game is an all-time Star Wars classic.
Review by Josh Braham