Anthony's Film Review

Star Wars: Dark Forces II - Jedi Knight
(Video Game, 1997)

An amusing shooter game combining excitement and a new Star Wars tale...

The fictional universe of Star Wars is fascinating in that it goes well beyond the six-film saga. In the early 1990s, a new Star Wars novel was written featuring familiar characters and new characters in a story taking place after Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. More novels were written since then. The part I find rather neat is how each of these Star Wars novelists do not ignore each other's creations. Any events, characters, and other creations created must not contradict what was written so far by other Star Wars novelists. Now, the expanded Star Wars universe is gigantic. You have new stories taking place after Return of the Jedi, before The Phantom Menace, and even between the six films.

It's not just books. Star Wars video games have introduced new tales as well. For instance, Dark Forces is a Star Wars game in the genre of first-person shooter games. I have played its sequel called Jedi Knight. At this point, let me get one thing out of the way. The game itself is quite fun and it's pretty much a standard first-person shooter game. The only thing that makes this one unique is that you, the player, have to fight as a Jedi knight at several points in the game. However, it is fun to brandish a lightsaber in addition to the guns you shoot with. You also get to use powers drawn from the Force, just like you see in the Star Wars films.

That said, I will now focus more on the film-like aspects of the game.

The first thing worth noting is the game's introductory scene. Starting the game for the first time is very much like watching the beginning of a Star Wars movie. You have the words "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." followed by the Star Wars logo and the tilted upward-scrolling text. Afterwards, the camera pans downward. What happens next is just like the original Star Wars film. A Rebel ship appears from the top edge of the screen and is being followed by an Imperial Star Destroyer. There's one slight twist. The Rebel ship is already exploding. You think you're watching the 1977 film, but you still remember that you're playing this 1997 game.

The next shot takes place on the Star Destroyer. A Jedi knight named Rahn is captured. Standing before him is a Dark Jedi named Jerec. He is blind and wears a thin black blindfold across his eyes to conceal the fact that he doesn't have any. With his thirst for power and his mastery in the Jedi arts, Jerec nearly rivals Darth Vader. In fact, Jerec wants the ultimate power. Rahn knows the location of the Valley of the Jedi, a Jedi burial ground that collectively holds the essences of the deceased Jedi. If Jerec can find it and claim this stored energy for himself, he could become more powerful than anything in the galaxy. But Rahn refuses to tell, so he is killed.

The knowledge of the Valley of the Jedi isn't entirely lost. Rahn's friend, Morgan Katarn, knows about it and promises to pass it on to his son, Kyle, when he grows older and learns to be a Jedi. Now we are in the present. You play the role of Kyle Katarn who dives into action when a traitorous droid, 8t88, runs off with information about the Valley of the Jedi. Kyle soon learns about the importance of this information and how Jerec is seeking this Valley. Through 21 levels spanning five major locations, Kyle chases Jerec until a final showdown determines the fate of the galaxy.

Jerec has six other Dark Jedi at his side: Sariss (a fearsome human female Jedi), Boc (a playful alien wielding two lightsabers), Yun (a young human male), Maw (a beast cut in half by Rahn and now exists as a levitating upper body), Gorc (a bulky alien with a long lightsaber), and Pic (Gorc's twin who is much smaller, but quicker). Kyle fights all seven Dark Jedi in six of the 21 levels (Gorc and Pic fight together). Other enemies include Stormtroopers, Imperial officers, and various alien creatures featured in the Star Wars films and novels, all appearing as obstacles during the other levels.

The game may not be as epic as a Star Wars film, but it's still like a film. While the game is computer animated, the introduction plus scenes in between the levels are live action. A cast of actors bring to life the roles of Kyle, Jerec, and the rest. The music throughout the game also makes the experience worthwhile. It's nothing more than the many tunes from the original Star Wars trilogy by John Williams. I found it interesting that the music for certain moments in the films work for similar kinds of situations in this game. This is why the game is like a movie and worth experiencing by fans of Star Wars video games.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Star Wars: Dark Forces II - Jedi Knight, visit the Internet Movie Database and Moby Games.


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