BW: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Vs. Jedi Outcast
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Ultimate Sith Edition (Action / PC)
Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (FPS / PC)
Introducing the Genre
At the mention of the name Star Wars, any genre of game can come to mind. It’s almost unfair to compare. There have been flight sims, side-scrolling platformers, on-the-rail shooters, a series of FPS games, a Smash Bros fighter, a Tekken style fighter, and pretty much everything short of Jar Jar Teaches Typing. For this article, I’ll be comparing an older Star Wars game, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast with a modern one to show how graphics and technology do not a game make.
Introducing the Game
I want to start off by saying that I respect what this game was trying to do. I remember watching preview videos and demos showing off the new technology developed just for this game, giving all materials mass and properties so they fly and splinter like wood, or warp and bend like metal. I just didn’t feel what the game was trying to do in a gameplay sense.. It was nothing more than God of War in a Star Wars wrapping. I’m talking about Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
I’ve just said, it’s God of War in a Star Wars wrapping, full of quick-time events and 10-hit combos. Instead of magic powers like Zeus’s thunderbolt, you have the Force to shoot lightning. By the end of the game, each Starkiller character will be very similar to another. When I went through the game, many of the advanced combos were left unused and unneeded. You’re armed with a lightsabre, and that’s your primary attack weapon. The Force basics such as push, lightning, sabre throw, block, and choke are available.
Throughout Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, you have the lightsabre, three different fighting styles, a variety of blaster weapons like a pistol, storm trooper rifle, repeater, bowcaster, rocket launcher, thermal detonators, an emp weapon, long range disrupter rifle, flak cannon, trip mines, and detpacks, force powers of push, pull, choke, mind trick, throw, block, speed, jump, and heal.
God of War is an action game that depends on spectacle. Jedi Outcast is, too, but with an FPS mode. The much older game has more to it than the modern era. In Outcast, I always had a variety of tools at my disposal. Throughout Force Unleashed, I mostly repeated the same combo over and over and over. The lightsabre was as effective as a glowing whiffle bat. In Outcast, the lightsabre was immediately effective, lopping off limbs and killing biological creatures in one strike. Just having it out, without attacking, it will sear walls, accidentally stab people, or destroy walkers. Outcast was the first time I ever felt in control of The Force and a lightsabre.
The only real customization you have with Unleashed is the type of lightsabre you weild. Each type has a different ability like, more damage to machines, steals life, increase defense. It’s one feature out of many un-seized opportunities
Outcast’s lightsabre combat was more than just a knife fight. Blaster weapons also remain relevant throughout the game.
The story for The Force Unleashed begins with an amazing concept, when Darth Vader tried to recruit Luke to take down the Emperor at the end of Empire Strikes Back, wasn’t the first time Vader had that idea. Before Star Wars Episode IV, Vader tried it again with a secret apprentice named Starkiller. The story for the first game was interesting enough to get a novelization released, which I bought and read before I played through the game. When the second game came around, the story was the weakest part. In both games, Starkiller is an emotionally stunted individual who is lovestruck and as single-minded as Kratos. They’re both all about revenge, and filled with hate. I suppose that’s what it’s supposed to be, the game was emphasizing the dark side of the force, not the light. Even after he grows, he doesn’t grow much. In the second game, he doesn’t grow at all. The second game’s story was partially sold on the fact that Yoda and Boba Fett appear. They both appear for about a minute of screen time. Weak.
In Jedi Outcast, you play as Kyle Katarn, the hero created for Dark Forces. He’s an established character that has already gone through many adventures and grown. The entire story through Outcast is brand new, using some new and returning characters. Kyle is more interesting, has more to lose, and I was able to get invested in him more than Starkiller. It might be unfair to compare since Katarn has had more previous development, but Starkiller, even after two games, I could not care about.
While Starkiller and Katarn’s playable aspects will be very similar after every playthrough, However the amount of character development that Katarn goes through is much more than Starkiller.
While Force Unleashed is the more technically sophisticated with it’s newer engine and higher polycount, the game is filled with quick-time events that leave the player focused on button prompts rather than studying an enemy’s behavior and taking it out manually. There were several walkers and super troopers in Unleashed that were all defeated the same way. In Outcast, I had a different solution each time. Sometimes it was the EMP, sometimes it was the force, sometimes it was another walker. I had my options. I was able to appreciate the spectacle more in Outcast since my eyes were always on it, rather than “zooming out” looking for a giant X button or a Spacebar prompt.
There’s really no comparison. They both use the established Star Wars sound font and sound track. It’s been recreated since the Atari days, MIDI on the SNES, and full orchestras once the CD era began.
I always love being able to identify the voice actors. Unleashed uses the actor from the Ron Moore Battlestar: Galactica who played Crashdown. He actually looks the part. Outcast uses Billy D. Williams reprising his role as Lando. Kyle is a new actor and they use him for the next game, the same voice actor who played Brooklyn in Gargoyles. Based on that alone, I’m more fond of Outcast. But, that’s a pure subjective opinion. In either game, you’ll enjoy listening to the dialogues.
The Force Unleashed gives you a complex combination of super combos that combine Force powers and attacks, like adding lightning to your sabre, or pushing up in the air for an air-juggle combo. All this really does is extend the time it takes to kill an individual. Certain actions are context sensitive and you can only really “Unleash” your power in scripted scenarios, like pulling a Star Destroyer out of orbit. You can’t use that power at any time.
Jedi Outcast lets you do any action at any time. In Unleashed, there are certain rock, paper, scissors effects set up for certain enemies. In Outcast, you can decide how to take out each enemy. Some strategies are more effective than others, but you never feel restricted to one method over another.
Outcast’s lightsabre takes some getting used to, timing the hit with the time it takes to swing is a strategic choice. Unleashed just lets you wing over and over and over.
Force Unleashed has no multiplayer. Force Unleashed 2 has a Smash Bros style of game attached to it, but only on one version.
Outcast comes with the traditional multiplayer modes of the past Jedi Knight modes. You can allocate how you want to spend your force powers, light, dark, or neutral. The rapid pace deathmatches make for classic LAN fodder. If you ever wished Unleashed was multiplayer, Outcast is what you want to boot up.
The Force Unleashed allows you to replay levels over and over, a level grind to build yourself up. There are hidden items that grant special powers, costumes, or points for leveling up. This encourages replay value, but I wasn’t interested. The actual gameplay and repetitiveness of the same combo over and over did not appeal to me.
Jedi Outcast is a long game, at least it took me longer. I’m not likely to play it through again soon, but it’s definitely more appealing than Unleashed. The story is more enjoyable, the gameplay is more dynamic, and you have more combat choices available to you. Outcast has more depth and greater replayaability.
I enjoyed Jedi Outcast greatly. It’s the best Jedi simulator I’ve ever played, better than the Super Star Wars series on the SNES, better than Force Unleashed, and better than the fighting games.
Unleashed was more of a tech demo than anything else. It introduced a console and computer method of using the force. Unleashed 2 had potential, but it wasn’t used. It was more of the same mediocrity.
Boiling it Down
For a great Star Wars game that puts you in control of the Force, for a good story, go for Jedi Outcast.