Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (often abbreviated JK2 or JO) is a first- and third-person action game developed by Raven Software and published by LucasArts and Activision. The PC version was released in early 2002 and the Mac OS, Xbox and Nintendo GameCube versions were released in late 2002. Powered by the Quake III: Team Arena game engine, the game primarily revolves around ranged and melee combat. The player can wield classic Star Wars weapons such as blasters, lightsabers and Force powers.
The game features both single-player and multiplayer modes. The story-driven single-player is set in the Star Wars universe two years after the events of Mysteries of the Sith, Jedi Outcast's predecessor. It follows the protagonist Kyle Katarn as he fights against the Dark Jedi Desann and his followers. The game was critically well-received on all platforms, with scores between 75 and 89/100 according to Metacritic's composite averages.
In 2003 a sequel titled Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was released for the Xbox, Mac OS and PC. In 2006 the PC version was re-released with four other Star Wars games in a pack entitled Star Wars: The Best of PC.
After the first few missions of Jedi Outcast, the player can use a lightsaber. As in the films, lightsabers can be used to deflect shots from blasters. The player gains access to three lightsaber styles as they progress. Each style is different in terms of the speed of attacks and damage dealt. There are a number of combos which can be used, often unique to the selected saber style.
With the lightsaber, Force powers (such as Push, Mind Trick and Lightning) become available. Powers are available in singleplayer and multiplayer, but more powers can be used in the latter. The use of powers is restricted by a "Force Meter", which depletes with use of powers. As the single-player game progresses, the number of powers available and their level increase. The "level" of a Force power determines the strength of the power and the amount of Force "power" required for its use.
Jedi Outcast features a set of multiplayer modes. In the PC and Macintosh versions, these can be played over LAN or the Internet, but is limited to two players on the console versions. There are a variety of game modes (examples are free-for-all, team free-for-all and capture the flag) which can be played with other players, bots, or both. However, some players have taken the game beyond this level in the multiplayer mode, adapting rituals such as "bowing" (crouching and bowing one's head down before a duel). The one-on-one master/padawan training system from the films has been adopted by some clans.
Kyle is joined by other characters throughout the game. Three of the most prominent are Jan Ors, a fellow mercenary and love interest; Lando Calrissian (voiced by Billy Dee Williams), the sophisticated baron-administrator of Cloud City seen in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi; and Luke Skywalker, protagonist of the original film trilogy and leader of the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV. The player also receives help from Jedi and other New Republic soldiers. Mon Mothma, Chief-of-State of the New Republic, gives Kyle and Jan objectives during the game.
There are four main antagonists: Desann, a former Jedi who killed a fellow student before leaving the Jedi Order; Tavion, Desann's apprentice; Galak Fyyar, one of the leaders of the Imperial Remnant; and Reelo Baruk, a crime lord posing as a "respectable garbage collector" on Nar Shaddaa. They are supported by Imperial stormtroopers, numerous thugs and Dark Jedi.
To avenge Jan's death, Kyle travels to the Valley of the Jedi to regain his Force powers. He then goes to the Jedi Academy to earn his lightsaber from Luke Skywalker. Following this, Kyle travels to Nar Shaddaa to track down Reelo Baruk, a crime lord with links to Desann. After fighting past some of Reelo's thugs, Kyle meets and frees Lando Calrissian. Using Lando's ship, the Lady Luck, they escape to Bespin (from which Reelo's men are smuggling cortosis). In the process they kill Reelo.
Lando drops off Kyle at the bottom of Cloud City. Kyle works his way upwards, encountering smugglers and Dark Jedi known as Reborn. Kyle fights several Reborn, and on the upper level, stormtroopers. He then meets Tavion, who is about to board a ship headed for Galak Fyyar's Star Destroyer, the Doomgiver. After losing to Kyle in a duel, she tells him that Jan is alive and on the Doomgiver. In exchange for her life, Tavion lets Kyle use her ship to travel there.
After fighting his way past some stormtroopers at Cairn Installation, where the Doomgiver is docked, Kyle meets up with Luke Skywalker, who is searching for Desann. After defeating some Reborn together, they part ways. Kyle defeats another Dark Jedi: a shadowtrooper wearing lightsaber-resistant armor. Kyle manages to sneak into the Doomgiver, but Luke was left behind at the Cairn Installation. Continuing through the ship, he finds Jan in the detention block. Kyle fights and kills Galak, in spite of Galak's lightsaber-resistant armor. He uses an escape pod to land on Yavin IV.
Kyle and Jan find the Jedi Academy under attack. Kyle travels through the swamps and valleys to get to the Jedi Academy and Jan heads to a hangar to help in the aerial battle. After some fights with Shadowtroopers, Kyle finds the Academy overrun with Imperial forces. With the help of New Republic troops he fends them off. After traveling through some underground tunnels, Kyle finds Desann. Desann rejects an offer to rejoin the Jedi given by Kyle. The two duel, and Kyle kills Desann. When he meets up with Luke, Kyle decides to keep his lightsaber.
On July 17, 2001, multiplayer lead Pat Lipo made a post on his .plan file, revealing that Rich Whitehouse had been brought onto the development team to handle development of the game's multiplayer bots. Rich moved on to tackle the entirety of the game's multiplayer codebase, and was subsequently credited as the game's sole multiplayer programmer.
On January 16, 2002 LucasArts launched a new website for Jedi Outcast. It featured an overview of the game and information regarding the game's characters, weapons and Force powers. An FAQ, screenshots, concept art, images of player models and downloadable wallpapers were also available. A trailer was released on February 8, showing the game's combat, weapons, characters and environments.
LucasArts announced on March 13, 2002 that the game was on track to go gold later in the week. Two days later, LucasArts announced Jedi Outcast had gone gold. The game was to be on sale by March 29, 2002 at a retail price of US$49.99. A new trailer was also released. Jedi Outcast shipped on March 29, 2002.
The game's SDK was released on April 22, 2002. This included a level editor, map compiler, model viewer, shader editor and viewer. Since its release, hundreds of mods have been submitted to sites such as FileFront. A 66 MB demo was released on May 10, 2002. It featured the same level shown in an incomplete form at E3 2001 and did not feature in the final version of the game. Two patches were released: version 1.03 and 1.04.
At E3 2002, LucasArts announced that Jedi Outcast would be converted to the GameCube and Xbox. On May 31, 2002, LucasArts and Aspyr Media announced that a Macintosh version of the game would be released. The Macintosh version was released on November 5, 2002 and the Xbox and GameCube versions were released on November 20 in North America and two days later in Europe.
On November 15, 2006 LucasArts announced that Jedi Outcast would feature with Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: Republic Commando and a 14-day trial of Star Wars Galaxies in a compilation release entitled Star Wars: The Best of PC. It was released during the 2006 holiday season, retailing at US$39.99.
IGN praised the game, describing it as "not only is this one of the greatest Star Wars games [the reviewer] ever played, [but] one of the best action games period". It commended the "mature plot", "fantastic" graphics and "intelligent" level design. However, it did criticize the puzzles, the lightsaber interface and complained that "the game starts too slowly". Despite this, it was given a rating of 9.0 out of 10 and an Editor's Choice award.
Many other outlets had similar criticisms of the opening and puzzles. Although it gave the game 93%, Game Over Online called it an "an intriguing juxtaposition of pieces of incredibly intense FPS action that had me on the edge of my seat combined with puzzle-like sections of such opacity that they made me want to kill myself". GameSpot's review acknowledged the "slow start" and "too much puzzle-solving", but concluded by saying "the game's strong points - especially its combat - overshadow whatever problems Jedi Outcast may have early on". In one of the few negative reviews of Jedi Outcast, X-Play criticized it as a "disturbance in the Force". Although it called the story "pretty good", the graphics "fantastic" and the audio effects "just right", it complained that the level design "succumbs to the Dark Side", describing "illogical and frustrating situations". The reviewer also considered the multiplayer "not very impressive" and gave the game 2 out of 5 stars.
While the Xbox and GameCube versions also received generally positive reviews (the Xbox version was described as "truly fantastic and "the best Star Wars experience on the Xbox" and the GameCube version as "worth spending time with), their aggregated scores were not as strong as the PC and Macintosh versions'. Many critics had issues with the translation from computer to console, citing the controls and graphics as hindrances. The Xbox version was criticized for a lack of Xbox Live support.