Years ago, the LucasArts games were a lot more common. You could be a Jedi, a Podracer, or a pilot. These days, however, games set in the Star Wars galaxy are lacking and it’s a shame the property doesn’t get more games. Sure, right now we have good but glitchy Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and of course, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 but this game was mired in controversy at launch and is only recently a game worth checking out. Not so with a lot of the older games pre-EA, in fact, those games were some of the best the franchise ever had and one of them is Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.
Launching in 2003, this is one of the few Star Wars games I only dabbled in at my neighbour’s house. At the time, he had a good PC that ran everything, and I was happy with sticking to consoles. I was mistaken. It wasn’t until now, with a rerelease on consoles years later could I come to accept what I’d missed out on, and while I’m sure the original game was a masterpiece at the time, now it comes off as being stuck in the past.
In Jedi Academy, you pick the mantle of Jaden Korr, a Jedi Padawan currently on his way to train on Yavin IV at the Jedi Academy. Serving under Kyle Katarn and Luke Skywalker, the story quickly escalates after an attack from the Disciples of Ragnos. This cult within the Sith infiltrates the Jedi Academy and steals Luke’s journal, which has the location of several places where the Force is strong. The journey focuses on investigating the cult and stopping them from stealing the Force energy to resurrect Ragnos.
Combat at the time was done with a mouse and keyboard. Today, the transition to Nintendo Switch works well but don’t expect Jaden to play anything like Cal Kestis from Fallen Order. Instead, things feel sluggish when in combat, and swinging your lightsaber feels dated. However, it isn’t all bad, the port is serviceable in this regard and using Force Powers handles a bit better due to their nature.
A lot of the inherent problems of the original make their way into this port, namely the problematic platforming that I struggled with at times due to its sensitivity, the way lightsabers handle, and of course, the weird hitbox issue which the series is known for – all comes full circle here and it makes the experience a bit a relic of 2003. Also, don’t go in expecting a minimap or compass to guide you to your next location, there’s a distinct lack of communication on what we should be doing and where to go next.
Multiplayer can be fun and it’s nice to see the mode is supported on the Nintendo Switch. However, it lacks the ability to pick servers in case of a bad connection. On one hand, every mode is available from the start and includes up to 16 players in one session. I spent some time playing through Capture the Flag and Free for all, and it is fun, but because this game is from so long ago, it’s hard to stay invested for too long.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is a blast from the past but its also extremely dated. What works is the Jedi fantasy being offered the player here and it works. Swinging a lightsaber, using Force Powers and doing the right things to make you feel like a Jedi is half the experience, and the main quest is an interesting take on the old universe Star Wars once had. The multiplayer can be fun now that it’s patched and less of an intrusion, but the campaign is more than enough content. This is a relic of how excellent Star Wars games once were and I’m happy to see it get some love today.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]