lies's Star Wars: Jedi Knight- Jedi Academy (Xbox) review

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Only imperial Stormtroopers are so precise

Star Wars is a terrific license, and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy utilizes it to it's fullest to make a game that is not amazing by any means, but simply loads of fun. You won't be ranting to your friends about how it looks so real, but instead quietly thinking to yourself about how bad-ass it is to kill ten Stormtroopers in five seconds, then turn around and watch their bodies fall to the ground in slow motion.

Jedi Academy has you (surprise!) taking on the role of a Jedi Knight. You'll start the game as Jaden Karr, a newbie Jedi, ready to start his training, and who just happens to come with his own Lightsaber. The gameplay is perfect, and it really captures the feeling of being an unstoppable Jedi bad-ass. The game offers up a mix of guns, Lightsabers, and Force powers; although most of the time you'll find your self simply using your saber and force powers, as the shooting elements are standard FPS fare. When using your saber the game switches to a third person viewpoint, and you can watch yourself dis-member troopers and Dark Jedi. The saber will deflect blaster fire coming at you automatically, although the saber doesn't deflect all of it, making blasters a legitimate threat. The game features some truly amazing saber effects and moves, most of which can be executed fairly easily, such as katas where you move your saber so fast it blurs into a continuous line, obliterating any defense your opponent may put up. You'll find yourself running up against saber wielding adversary's, and the Lightsaber combat holds up well, even when matched evenly against a Dark Jedi. The sword play with the sabers is great fun and engaging, and could easily stand on it's own without the the superb implementation of force powers.

You can assign force powers to the black, white, X, or right analog click buttons, giving you easy access to your favorite powers. The game offers up a nice selection of Force powers, on both Light and Dark sides of the Force. The powers are great, and, unlike in previous Jedi Knight games, are actually a major gameplay mechanic. You'll need to use your force powers to solve puzzles, defeat certain enemies, and most importantly, gain an edge in combat. You have 4 powers aligned with Dark or Light, and four core powers, making for a total of 12. The core powers are standard stuff, such as force push and force jump, but are actually very important to build up. The Light side powers are probably the most useful, but not all that fun. As a paragon of the Light, you'll be using powers such as protect and heal. Some of the dark-side mechanics, on the other hand, are deliciously evil; such as Force Grip, where you can immobilize the enemy using the Force, then levitate him, use him as a shield against blaster fire from his fellows, then toss him off a cliff to his doom. Sound great? It's even more fun in action.

Jedi Knight isn't much to speak of in the presentation department, with average graphics (Except for the incredible Lightsaber effects) and sound. The game looks decent, but character models are bland, and the environments are uninspired. The game utilizes everyone's favorite John Williams soundtrack from the original movies, but ,sadly, it adds little to the game. Hearing sabers clash and blasters fire is a nice touch, and adds to the level of immersion. Overall though, Jedi Knight is nothing that hasn't been done before in graphics and sound.

The game also features several multi-player modes, via split-screen or Xbox Live. Jedi Academy's multi-player has some slight tweaks to balance out the gameplay from single player, but it's incredibly fun nonetheless. There is a nice selection of maps and customization abilities available, which makes multi-player an interesting affair; you may be force shoving a Force-wielding Stormtrooper off a ledge one moment, then being impaled with a Lightsaber by an angry Wookie the next. Online multi-player through Xbox Live is a great feature to include, as it's an entertaining way to have some fun and hone your skills. The game also features bots for those without an internet connection, but they can hardly be described as engaging. The multi-player component to Jedi Knight is a great addition, and will keep you coming back for more.

Jedi Academy is not Halo, it's not Zelda, and it's not going to blow you away. It will however, allow you to have tons of pure fun, no strings attached. The modern gamer as become so wrapped up in technical specs and frames-per-second, that many have forgotten why we play games in the first place. We play to enjoy ourselves, and Jedi Academy is a game that allows us to do just that: have pure, unadulterated fun.

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