Genre: First Person/Third Person Action
Developed by: Raven Software
Published by: LucasArts
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Xbox, Switch, PS4
Feeling Like: Good Timing
I’ve already got tickets to Rise of Skywalker. I had to, they went on sale during Monday Night Football’s halftime intermission and I knew they’d go quickly. I don’t necessarily have to see everything on opening night, but Star Wars is a different beast. Ever since my parents got me a VHS copy of Star Wars (pre New Hope titling) for Christmas when I was 8 years old, I’ve been a fan. I had no idea what kind of world I was about to enter, but I watched the movie so many times that I can’t actually remember the primary viewing. I don’t remember how I felt the first time I saw a lightsaber, or Obi-Wan, or Darth Vader, or the Death Star. They’ve just always been there. The coolest fucking thing in the world.
I used to fall asleep to it. I’d throw it on, watch the same few scenes over, and over as I drifted off. It was as comforting as any lullaby, and is likely why I still like background noise when I go to bed. It had the right level of adventure and fear to keep me obsessed. I wasn’t alone, not even close; like many, my love for the series is deeply rooted in childhood nostalgia and as a result, my thirst for more Star Wars content led me down the path of comics, books and video games. Naturally.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is not a particularly good game. It builds upon a lot of mechanics found in Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, but lacks the freshness and story that I found so compelling. You’ll find four more Star Wars video games on the 500, but not for quite some time. There are some real bangers ahead, trust me.
Jedi Academy’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness. As you can see from the above screenshot, the game centers heavily around lightsabers. HEAVILY. There are some first person sections, but the majority of the missions involve lightsabering through inept bandits, slightly more competent Stormtroopers and, of course, Sith warriors. Who also have lightsabers.
It’s such a mesmerizing thrill to flip around like Yoda after he ate a haul of pixie sticks, slashing and thrusting your laser sword at your enemy. Many of your attacks will be blocked, emitting the familiar clashing noise straight from the movies. What other weapon has such iconic noises? Everything about this works, from choosing your Lightsaber’s color, to deciding whether you want to duel wield, or have a staff saber a la Darth Maul. It’s totally up to you and the game’s fun factor is inflated because of it.
Being able to choose your missions allows for further freedom that you didn’t see in Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast. There’s a ton to like here, from varied levels, to cutscenes with familiar characters, to the whole package being draped in Star Wars excellence.
One of the problems I had with the game, perhaps its only glaring flaw, is that there are too many lightsaber battles. “Less is More” comes to mind – the first time you dueled a fellow lightsaber wielder, it felt like a momentous occasion. Here, it quickly becomes rote. It happens all the time and by the end, you’re looking to use and abuse your Force powers since they’re overpowered as hell and using your main weapon just doesn’t have the same “oomf” as earlier levels.
Even if it sounds like my memories of the game are middling and limited, the content that’s there is just that good. It helps that I’m a massive Star Wars fan, and I swear I don’t time these entries on purpose; aside from the new Star War movie coming out in a few weeks, I also just picked up Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and the premier Disney Plus TV show “The Mandalorian” is fantastic so far. The universe truly does seem to be converging on my Star Wars obsession, though possibly to a fault. With such a revered franchise, would Disney be wise to subscribe to a “Less is More” philosophy? My own love for the recent movies (The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi) aside, they’ve been massively divisive among fans. At least everybody agreed the Prequels were disappointing at the time, now all of a sudden they’re GOOD? I can’t keep up with my own nostalgia, let alone others, but for now I’ll enjoy being an active observer to a terrifically fun franchise, and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is a worthy entry.