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Skyro
04-08-2002, 03:06 AM
Greetings! I have recently purchased Jedi Knight II, and I find it to be a most remarkable game. I had never read up on the game before its release, and was unaware of most of what the game had in store.

The singleplayer campaign suffered from a few problems, but overall, the experience was extremely positive. The most noteable problem with the singleplayer campaign is that of the level design. While extremely smooth in most aspects, occasionally, there would be points where I would just not know where to go next. I would spend anywhere from an hour to four hours, refusing to look at an online walkthrough, before I found where to go, after memorizing the entire layout of the level.

Two annoying occasions remain prominant in my memory: In the junk yard level, after clearing out every enemy and exploring every other area thoroughly, I found through a frustrated shoot-every-inanimate-object-in-sight spree that a miscellaneous-looking box, half covered in shadows on the far end of a small, seemingly unimportant, yet sealed room in the middle of known and explored territory, which I thought served no other purpose than to house a previously defeated murder-hole sniper enemy, would explode when shot with your blaster, opening up a passegeway into the room, which then led you further through the level with another passegeway which was hidden from view previously.

The other instance of annoying level design came from Dasann's ship level. Not too far in, I was stuck. Having dispatched of all the enemies soon enough, I made my way into the area behind the locked door with the button to open it located on the wall in front of it. In this room, there was an Alice in Wonderland-style tiny door, two tiny gaps in the walls protected with forcefields, and a lot of locked doors with no way to open them. After several frustrating hours, some of which had been watched by friends who quickly disliked the game after observing for a few moments, I discovered a small hole in the ceiling in one of the darkened rooms off to the side that led onward through the level. I felt confused as to whom the blame should go; myself for not being able to see that dark, small hole, or the level designers for placing the level's path so hidden and discreet.

Beyond those frequent frustrations, the singleplayer mode ends up being a blast. The well-orchestrated lightsaber duels allowed one of my friends, who had dismissed the game as being counter-intuitive after witnessing myself becoming lost and confused at some parts within a level, to start to love the game. I had no idea the game's lightsaber combat system would be so deep, complex, and rewarding. Then, discovering that there were three lightsaber stances, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, was icing on the cake for me, and very sweet icing it was. Combined with a plethora of acrobatic moves that could be performed using an innovative control scheme, the lightsaber combat was amazing! In fact, I would sometimes save the game before a Dark Jedi encounter, and regardless of the outcome, load the save and fight again. And again.

I had high hopes for the multiplayer mode, but I was determined not to play online until I had played through the entire singleplayer campaign first, dispite pressure from my friend, who was now an enthusiastic fan. However, the multiplayer experience seems to have been watered down a little from the solo campaign. What first struck me as odd was the new ways in which your character would swing the lightsaber. What reason was there to create a new set of swings? Also, if you held down the attack button, a set number of attacks after your first would swing faster than your initial attack, something now missing from multiplayer.

Dispite oddities like those, there are a number of force imbalances that everyone is no doubt aware of, so I won't go into great length about them, but I do want to touch on them lightly. In a dueling match, it is clear that a player with force heal level 3 has the advantage over the opposing player who does not. It is possible to wear down the health of an excellent player who does not have force heal or drain and beat him, but is impossible with an averagely skilled player who does have force heal or drain and uses it correctly.

It is written in the law of balance that "No one skill or set of skills or abilities should feel nessessary to possess to defeat an opponent who possesses it." Currently, Force Heal or Force Drain are almost nessessary powers in nearly all situations in the multiplayer game, not because you die too often without it, but because your enemies that have it don't die often enough when compared to how often you die.

Another thing about the multiplayer mode is the awkward lightsaber combat. After a brilliantly-implemented singleplayer combat system, I find that somehow, it just doesn't work the same way in multiplayer. People jump up and down, repeatedly swinging their sabers in a circle with thier left arm (which looks rather stupid), all the while not making contact with anything, let alone other people or their lightsabers.

The strange, unpredictable way in which characters swing their lightsabers is mostly to blame. Players are always moving. It's a habit made from playing any other First-Person Shooter. Therefore, a player's lightsaber moves are limited to those that include moving forward. After all, if you want to hit your opponent, you have to get close to him, and niether him or you will stop moving forward to use a surrounding swipe move. The moves most commonly used are consequently the ones involving a small area in front of you. This is why everyone runs around in circles without managing to hit anything.

If only the way your character swings the lightsaber was more unified, this problem would be far less prevailent. You'll notice that if you swung at a wall several times, you'll get several widely different attack areas burned into the wall. One that primarily struck the left-hand side could follow one that didn't manage to hit the wall much at all. This unpredictabilty works its way into the subconscious of everyone who has played the game, making them second-guess themselves if their intended attack will actually manage to hit their target.

One move that's quite popular is the crouch+forward+attack uppercut move for use with the quick stance. Popular because it's predictable. You know where the saber will go when you attack. If you force push someone down, and while he's getting up you want to strike him, simply using the attack key wihle standing over him will most likely not do the job. It'll just as likely slice the air in front of him or the ground next to him. The uppercut move is nice to use in this situation because you know you'll get the chance to hit him.

In addition to the whacky lightsaber swings, the other reason why people are continually chopping air is because the lightsaber may simply be too short. People in this game aren't that big in relation to how quickly they can move. The length of the lightsaber makes you continually try to get closer, and your enemy tries to get farther away. There are only so many times a minute that you get close enough to strike an evading enemy, so most of your time can be spent missing. Increasing the range of the lightsaber slightly can decrease the amount of skillful missing, and can encourage actual combat, something I'm sure we all can all agree this game needs more of.

Once the actual combat occurs, I feel that perhaps it is all too quick. Compare the singleplayer's pace to the multiplayer's, and you'll see that multiplayer is much faster. Some of you may perfer that, yet, in which is lightsaber combat more fun and interesting? People love the lightsaber combat from the Star Wars movies, and those take as long as ten to fifteen minutes. Perhaps if the pace was brought down to match that of the singleplayer campaign, battles will be even more strategical, underused force powers would be given more use, and player skill could overcome luck easier. I'm not saying that the current pace is too fast, only that a pace more akin to that of the singleplayer could make the game more fun.

I've recently come to a knowledge of that one special cheat code "The Destroyer." This cheat code has done something to the mind of everyone who has tried it. No longer are they completely satisfied with everyone wielding standard lightsabers. Now, there is a longing for a fully implemented dual-bladed lightsaber as a standard option to choose from in multiplayer games. This code has given us a small taste of something sweet. Something most of us had never thought of before is now something that is being demanded to be implemented. Me? The second I saw that sweet dual-bladed lightsaber, an idea came to me.

There are already three lightsaber styles, so this idea isn't too farfetched: In addition to the three lightsaber styles, there should be three lightsaber TYPES. The normal type that there is now, the dual-bladed type we all want, and the twin type, similar to what Bok from Jedi Knight wielded, which is using two single-bladed lightsabers, one in each hand. Dual-bladed saber types have an increased deflection/blocking range at the slight cost of attack range (it's hard to swing it out without stabbing yourself), while a Twin type would have an increased attack rate with all three stances, at the cost of deflection/blocking chance.

This idea would be perfect to add to an imminent expansion pack, a full-fledged sequel, or best yet, a free downloadable bonus pack. The above suggestions and ideas are perfectly free, and I promise not to sue or claim rights to any of them at any time, nor would I ever expect any sort of payment for the use of these ideas. Please, don't let any reason prevent you from considering the use of these ideas!

Anyway, I'm not done yet. Considering the extensive amount of character models available to the original Jedi Knight, I was somewhat disappointed at the finite number of selectable character models in Jedi Knight II. Also, the lightsaber is unquestionably the most prominant feature of this game, and is reguarded by many to be a very personal item, reflecting your personality by the color of the blade, and what material the hilt is made from and in what shape the hilt is.

I would have liked to have more customization in this area. At the very least, there should be more colors to choose from, or have the option to choose an exact color from the color spectrum. Ideally, there would be a way to select different models of lightsaber. Desann had a totally different-looking lightsaber hilt than anyone else, yet the functionality of the saber was the same. This extra customization can go a long way in hooking Star Wars fans, and shouldn't be overlooked.

Oh, and one last thing: when holding down the shift key to walk instead of run, you walk casually, with your arms swaying beside you, even with a lightsaber in your hands. When you walk backwards, you keep the lightsaber held where it is, as your feet move slowly backwards. It would be so much better if you could walk slowly forward with your lightsaber held up, like you can when you go backward. In fact, I think you should only walk casually when you have no weapon selected (pressing the - key in singleplayer) or when your lightsaber is inactive. It's a small thing, but it would help out with movie-like duels, and give a more cinematic appearance to the game in general.

Thank you for reading, I hope I have been of some use, wither it be that I inspired some new idea within you, provided enough flame-bait to last you several years, or simply made you laugh at my foolish suggestions. Thanks again for reading!

Skyro
04-08-2002, 04:54 PM
I trust this is the proper place to post this feedback. If it's not, can someone tell me where I can put it? Is there a feedback email address I can send it to?

Cyclone
04-08-2002, 05:19 PM
There is a separate feedback forum here. It will likely be moved to there by an admin.

Good write up, I don't agree with all of the "it should be ...." recommendations, but a good write up none the less.

Cyclone