System Requirements Windows 98/Me/2000/XP 450Mhz or higher 128MB RAM 32MB DX 8 compatible video card 1.3GB free space

Not too long ago, LucasArts surprised us with the announcement of 'Jedi Academy' (I'll use JA from now on); the next in the long-running series of 'Dark Forces/Jedi Knight' games. An amazing announcement considering 'Jedi Outcast' (I'll use JO from now on) was just released last year, and the wait between 'Jedi Knight: Dark Forces' and JO had been a long 4 year wait. JA adds better graphics, introduces a new main hero, adds the choices of dual-sabers and dual-blade sabers, a speeder bike chase, and the ability for the player to choose their missions. Unfortunately, none of this really moves the series forward and tends to almost feel more like an expansion to JO. Don't get me wrong. The game contains several differences from 'Outcast', but it just doesn't feel like a new game and falls short in so many ways from JO.


This time around, you are Jaden; a new student to the Jedi Academy, ready to learn the ways of the Force. On your way to Yavin, you crash land on the planet and find some mysterious people sneaking around the Academy. And this becomes the basis for the story. Who are those people and what were they doing? For anyone familiar with the series, you may be asking what happened to Kyle Katarn. In JA, you are Kyle's student. There is still plenty of Kyle in the game, but you won't be playing as him. The story is generally insignificant for the first 2/3's of the game. Many of your missions have absolutely nothing to do with moving the story forward. For example, a mission to rescue hostages from the Hutts or your efforts to find parts to your broken down ship do not offer any benefit to the story. Some mission briefings have you think you will find out more of the story, only to be disappointed when you actually get through the mission.


Like the previous titles, there is quite a bit of action, some nice puzzles, and some cool saber battles. With new saber styles (dual-saber and dual-blade), the saber battles are the best looking yet. You will visit a number of Star Wars locations. Some from the movies (Tatooine, Hoth, for example) and several locations created from the Star Wars Expanded Universe (books and such). The missions consist of straight-forward shooters, disarming bombs, setting off bombs, rescuing prisoners, gathering parts for your downed ship while evading the Sarlaac, escaping a Rancor, riding in a speeder bike chase, all while trying to fight Imperials and all sorts of various Jedi. I was sorely disappointed with the A.I. in 'Academy'. They seemed to take a step (maybe a few steps) backwards. The A.I. was...well...very poorly implemented. They took what was great about JO (the enemy hiding, flanking you, peeking out behind corners to take a few shots at you) and turned them into frozen statues. They stand in place, firing their guns at you. I was able to stand 10 feet away from stormtroopers who were directly facing me, and not a single shot was fired at me. I was playing the game on Jedi Knight difficulty, which is the next highest from medium difficulty. One thing that seemed new was the enemy will now repick up a weapon. So if you force pull a weapon from a stormtrooper, they will now go over and pick it back up. I also had an issue with some of the maps. Ledges are scattered all throughout the game. There is one map where this is especially frequent (it was also in the demo). The problem with the ledges is it becomes rather easy to force push the enemy off the ledge. This is just plain not fun. As soon as the jedi jumps, you can easily force push them off course and down they fall. There was a whole section at one point where I never even used the saber. I just force pushed everyone. There are also points where you can run ahead and the enemy won't follow you. Sure, in both of these cases, the player has the choice of how to handle these situations. But this is just not the quality I expect from LucasArts, and especially from this series. The game doesn't really get exciting until the last 1/3 of the game. This is where things all start to come together. The story starts picking up. You get to choose if you want to use two sabers or a dual-blade saber. And most interactions are with some pretty tough Jedi. Not only are these Jedi a challenge, but you will sometimes be up against 3 or 4 at once. One mission is a speeder bike chase. This is a rather fun mission and has you trying to find a gate while being chased by several bad guys. Controlling the bike is a little awkward at first, but the speed and challenge made this an enjoyable level.


The grahpics are definitely the best yet in the series. There was some very nice architecture. There were some very memorable places and sometimes you really felt like you were there. You travel to so many different locations, and each place is significantly different from the others. You will get to visit Hoth, Tatooine, a facility floating in space, jumping across skyscrapers, and lots more. The cutscenes using the in-game rendering engine are becoming rather bland. A generally stationary camera leaves a somewhat unemotional feeling. The main movement are lips moving. Sometimes people shrug or walk, but there isn't really much to make you say 'Wow!' There were also some pre-rendered videos that were much more cinematic and interesting. Even though they suffered from low image quality, I would have preferred more pre-rendered video to the in-game cutscenes.


Not much has changed in the sound. You've still got the great score by John Williams. You've still got the great saber sounds and weapon sounds. From what I can remember, most of the sounds haven't really changed much from the days of 'Jedi Knight: Dark Forces'. The voice acting is decent. You get to choose whether you want to be a male or female character and your character's voice will be either male or female.


The main premise of the game is to fight and kill people. You also get to use the Force, which I know can be an issue for some readers. I was actually impressed with how little bad language there was. I think there may have been one 'D'-word towards the beginning, but other than that, it was clean. One of the female main characters is somewhat busty and is sort of wearing a bikini top. The game consists of both good and evil Force powers. You have the choice of whether you want to focus on good or evil and this will change the ending of the game. In a limited sense, the game does make you think about your choices.


I had absolutely no problems running the game. It was extremely smooth and never crashed on me.


If this had been packaged as some type of expansion and took out some of the disjointed feeling of the first 2/3 of the game, this would have been a terrific game. As a full game, I think it falls rather short. It still has some special moments and the ending gets rather exicting. Multiplayer is just as fun as in JO and they have also added a new map type called Siege Mode. These are objective-based maps where one side is trying to complete objectives while the other side is trying to stop them. These maps are a lot of fun. If you are simply a Star Wars fan, you will probably like this game a lot just for the number of locations you get to visit. If you were a fan of 'Jedi Outcast', this may not quite live up to your expectation.

Final Ratings

Game play: B-
Sound: B-
Graphics: B-
Stability: A+
Appropriateness: A-

Overall 84%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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