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Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (often abbreviated JK or DF2) is a first person shooter computer game released on October 9, 1997, by LucasArts based on the Star Wars franchise. It is both the first game in the Dark Forces series to include multiplayer capabilities over the Internet or a Local Area Network, and the first game to allow players to take control of a Jedi character using the Force and a lightsaber. Jedi Knight uses live-action cutscenes. Jedi Knight is the sequel to Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995) and was followed by Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002). An expansion, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, was released on January 31, 1998. A novelization of the game was also published in three parts, Dark Forces: Soldier For The Empire, Dark Forces: Rebel Agent and Dark Forces: Jedi Knight.
Jedi Knight made use of a significantly more powerful game engine than its predecessor, providing fully 3D environments and objects. It was one of the first games to ship with support for hardware 3D acceleration, through Direct3D 5.0, although it can also be played in a software-rendered mode. The game includes support for 3D sound effects through DirectSound and A3D 1.0 and uses CD audio for music.
DevelopmentStar Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II was developed at the time that the first person shooter Quake was really popular. When development of Jedi Knight progressed, occasionally it was said that it might be a Quake Killer. The force powers method was designed with an RPG style in mind. Project leader Justin Chin said in an early interview that progress in the game is based upon the abilities the player develops. The 3D sound technology was tweaked extensively to give an immersive feel to the game. This was achieved by experimentation using many different sound effects and playback styles. The cut scenes between levels included the first lightsaber footage filmed since Return of the Jedi in 1983.
Cast and crew
- Jason Court - Kyle Katarn
- Angela Harry - Jan Ors
- Christopher Neame - Jerec
- Bennet Guillory - Rahn
- Valerie Wildman - Sariss
- Time Winters - Boc
- Morgan Hunter - Maw
- Denny Delk - Pic (voice)
- Rafer Weigel - Yun
- Jacob Witkin - Morgan Katarn
- Daniel Bloom - Bounty hunter
- Dylan Haggerty - Bounty hunter
- Roger L. Jackson - Computer/Greedo (voice)
- Scott Ewers - Director
- Justin Chin - Writer
StoryThe player controls Kyle Katarn, who makes his first appearance as a mercenary in Dark Forces. Jedi Knight begins a year after the events in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, with Kyle meeting a droid named 8t88. 8t88 tells Kyle that his father, Morgan Katarn, was killed by a Dark Jedi named Jerec. Kyle retrieves from the droid a disk that can only be read by Morgan's family droid back home. The disk's message, coupled with the family droid giving Kyle a lightsaber, compel Kyle to undertake a journey to confront his father's murderers and to discover his own latent Force abilities. While on this journey, Kyle learns that seven Dark Jedi are intent on finding the Valley of the Jedi, a focal point for Jedi power and a Jedi burial ground.
Kyle retrieves the Valley's location from 8t88's decapitated head after a pair of Dark Jedi kill the droid. Kyle and Rebel agent Jan Ors travel to Ruusan, on which the Valley is located, and Jerec captures Jan. Kyle's decision to either rescue Jan or let her die dictate whether Kyle becomes aligned with the dark or light side of the Force. With both paths, Kyle has a final confrontation with Jerec in the Valley of the Jedi's core. If the player chose the dark path, the game ends with Kyle becoming emperor; if the player chose the light, the game concludes with Kyle carving a monument to his dead father.
Single playerJedi Knight built on the single-player tradition begun with Dark Forces. The game is heavily plot-driven, with elaborate missions, a variety of settings, and an emphasis on puzzle-solving in addition to defeating enemies.
Jedi Knight requires the player to make ethical decisions as part of the gameplay. Kyle is a neutral character for most of the game, neither fully light nor dark. Actions against unarmed civilians, as well as the Force powers a player chooses, sway Kyle toward the light or dark side. Eventually, the character definitely chooses a side.
Enemies include a range of Imperial characters as well as various alien creatures and robotic entities. In addition, the player occasionally faces more powerful foes such as the AT-STs. The game's "bosses" are a series of Dark Jedi. In addition to hostile individuals, there are also non-combatant civilian characters.
Multiplayer and onlineOnline multiplayer combat has a deathmatch format with options available to customize a particular multiplayer game. Games allowed free-for-all, teams, and head-to-head combat, as well as Capture the flag. JK include players' ability to use force powers if the particular game allows it, and a lightsaber as a default -- or only -- weapon. The game lacks a dedicated server, and online gaming was hosted by the MSN Gaming Zone. Today, GameSpy Arcade, IG Zone and Qtracker support JK and MotS online play. IG Zone is the most active place to play today.
The lack of dedicated servers created difficulties in lag time for online play. Messages sent were never centrally processed, and so a "hit" in one person's frame rarely guaranteed an actual event. Players compensated for lag by shooting ahead of the opponent so as to register a hit on the opponent's computer. At times, the game suffered from extensive cheating, until the third-party program "Kicker Helper" was released. JK's permissive checksum system allowed most of the "hacks" or "cogs" (as the cheats were commonly called) to work. The physics engine and Force system, however, are so permissive that many legitimate actions were construed as cheating. In addition, the open nature of the game's programming allowed users to create customized skins for characters, and custom maps with relative ease; some cogs were created not as cheats, but as modifications to create new gaming dynamics.
ReceptionReviews for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II have generally been good. The game has a score of 91% on review aggregator MetaCritic. GameRankings has calculated a score of 87% based on a the reviews of 14 publications. In a review of the game, GameSpot praised Jedi Knight's control and artificial intellegence of the enemies, saying that they help the suspension of disbelief. However the review did criticise the cutscenes, calling them "typically mediocre". GameRevolution gave the Jedi Knight an A- rating. The force powers were singled out as an innovation worth praise.
Jedi Knight was a nominee in the 2000 Satelite Awards in the Best Interactive Product / CD ROM Game category. In March, 2004, GMR Magazine rated Jedi Knight the fourth best Star Wars game of all time.
ExpansionReleased four months after Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, the Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith expansion pack expansion features the opportunity to play as Mara Jade, an apprentice to Kyle Katarn. Kyle eventually leaves to investigate a Sith temple and the player assumes control of Mara. After completing several missions for the New Republic, Mara searches for Kyle. Mara discovers that he has succumbed to the dark side, but she manages to bring him back to the light.
This expansion adds colored lighting effects, new enemies, weapons, and Force powers; it also removed the light and dark side distinctions. Multiplayer received two new game modes: Kill the Fool with the Ysalamiri (a variant on "tag") and Lightsaber Training (a mode for ranked Jedi in saber combat in specific arenas). Multiplayer also expanded to include "personalities", a class system that could be applied to other game modes except for Lightsaber training. Capture the Flag was removed.
There were several under-the-hood changes as well, the most significant involving COG, the programming language that Jedi Knight uses to create scripted in-game events and interactivity (doors, elevators, weapons, in-game cutscenes, etc.). Rather than full-motion video cutscenes, the game uses recordings of game-engine-generated events overlapped with voice acting. The option to use high-resolution sounds was eliminated. Some basic anti-cheat protection for multiplayer was included as well. The expansion was typically sold separately from Jedi Knight, but required the original game to install.
Dark Forces II had an extensive modding community in its prime. A popular program called Patch Commander enable players to easily orchestrate multi-player action using modified game files. Popular mods such as Guns and Such , Spork, Saber Battle X, Space Soldier 3, Ninja Kage, and Portal SITH were constantly played online.
In September of 2006, a modder by the name of Breen introduced the first unofficial Jedi Knight patch. This patch expanded the engine of the game to allow for a greater material limit for editor, among other things. Since then, several updated versions of the unofficial patch have been released that allow for a team chat system and an expansion on the COG language verbs used in modding.
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