Video Game Retrospect: Jedi Outcast
By: Tyler Campobasso
The fourth game (fifth if you count Mysteries of the Sith) in the Dark Forces Saga, Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast puts players back in the boots of fan-favorite rebel agent-turned Jedi Kyle Katarn. Released in 2002, Jedi Outcast hit shelves for PC, Gamecube and the original Xbox. It has since been released for next-gen consoles like Playstation 4. Outcast keeps many of the same mechanics from the previous games, despite a new engine. First/third person gameplay is still available, as are a variety of force powers and weapons. The game holds up very well on newer-gen consoles, and continues to be one of the most beloved video games to come out of the Expanded Universe. With Kyle Katarn as the star, Jan Ors returns as Kyle’s pilot/girlfriend/partner. Jan continues to be an excellent supporting character alongside Lando Calrissian (voiced by Billy Dee) and Luke Skywalker.
Fresh off his battles with the dark side and redemption thanks to Mara Jade, Kyle has cut himself off from the force and forsaken his former Jedi ways. The game begins in 12 ABY, as Luke’s Jedi Praxeum is up and running. Kyle and Jan are on a mission to the planet Kejim, where reports of Imperial Remnant activity are taking place. You discover that the Imperials are researching Kyber crystals for an unknown purpose. Following the trail to the planet Artus Prime, Kyle finds the imprisoned workers of the planet’s mine. The prisoners are being experimented upon with the Kyber crystals for an unknown purpose. Here Kyle meets the game’s main villain: the Chistori Dark Jedi Desann. Jan is captured by Desann’s apprentice Tavion and “killed”. Without his force abilities, Kyle is defeated by Desann. Broken and defeated, Kyle travels to the Valley of the Jedi to regain his force abilities. The Valley of the Jedi was featured in Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight and was the resting place of the dead Jedi souls that fell victim to Skere Kaan’s thought bomb at the Seventh Battle of Ruusan. Kyle’s father, Morgan, warns Kyle of reclaiming his force powers and to deware of the dark side. Filled with anger and sadness, Kyle assures his father he can control himself this time, and he needs just one more thing before he can rescue Jan: his lightsaber.
Luke Skywalker had kept Kyle’s lightsaber on Yavin since he gave up the Force. Luke makes Kyle run through a test to prove he can control himself and assure himself he is worthy to take up the Jedi ways once more. Luke tells Kyle about Desann before you’re sent on your way. Desann had been a student at the academy, and a promising one. Problem was he had such a darkness in him that released itself when Desann cut down a fellow student for failing a trial, citing the student’s weakness. Desann fled shortly after and joined with a group of Imperials. Luke points Kyle to Nar Shaddaa to find Rodian gangster Reelo Baruk for more information. On Nar Shaddaa Kyle finds Lando Calrissian imprisoned by Baruk in his dungeon. Together they escape Baruk’s hideout and kill the Rodian. Lando obtained some information pointing to a cortosis smuggling ring on Bespin; they head off to Cloud City on the Lady Luck. Nar Shaddaa has the title of being the most annoying level in the game as the Rodian sniper enemies can one-shot you from virtually any distance, inducing much rage from myself and I assume others. On Bespin Kyle discovers what the Kyber crystals were doing to the prisoners back on Artus Prime. Desann had been attempting to artificially give his soldiers the force using the crystals used in lightsabers. Partnered with that, Desann followed Kyle to the Valley of the Jedi to empower himself and his Dark Jedi underlings. Lando and Kyle are able to beat the Imperials off of Cloud City, which pits Kyle against Desann’s apprentice Tavion. In the first true boss battle of the game, Kyle defeats Tavion, who begs for her life. Asking her for a reason why he shouldn't kill her, Tavion reveals that Jan is alive and is aboard Desann’s flagship. Jan’s death was faked to force Kyle to return to the Valley of the Jedi. Desann also was not willing to risk killing Jan, one of the two individuals in the whole galaxy who knew the location of the Valley. Kyle lets Tavion go with a warning and takes her ship to Cairn Installation in the Lenico Belt.
At the Cairn Installation Kyle is introduced to Desann’s Shadow Troopers. These troopers were stormtroopers who had been imbued with the force, making them Dark Jedi. Also on the station Kyle runs into Luke and creates one of the cooler sequences in the game. Luke fights alongside you for a little while, which is just so cool. Splitting up, Kyle discovers that the installation is actually a construction facility and is preparing for battle. Kyle is stuck on a massive star destroyer while split up from Luke, who is facing Desann by himself. The star destroyer, the Doomgiver launches with Kyle on board. On the ship Kyle faces a full complement of stormtroopers through the ship before discovering the Imperials are launching an attack on Yavin IV and Luke’s academy. Kyle contacts Rogue Leader (Tycho Celchu at this time) to defend Yavin. Kyle finds Jan, frees her, then targets the ship’s shield reactor. Guarding the reactor is Admiral Galak Fyyar, Desann’s chief officer. Fyyar is armed with a cortosis battle suit, rendering lightsabers useless against him. After defeating Fyyar Kyle joins Jan in an escape pod and the two travel down to Yavin’s surface to help in the battle.
Kyle and Jan fight waves of Imperials through the Yavin jungle before reaching the Jedi Praxeum. Reaching the Force nexus in the lower levels of the temple, Kyle faces his final battle with Desann. This is one tough boss fight, I remember really struggling with it. In the middle of the arena you fight in there’s a Force nexus that can empower you if you enter it. The buff lasts a short time, so take advantage of it. Kyle defeats Desann after a grueling fight, and the Imperials are driven off Yavin once more (no one learns from Daala, seriously).
There is also a multiplayer mode in the game with numerous maps to play a variety of modes on, such as duel, team battle and capture the flag. Players can choose a skin from a variety of characters and customize their own lightsaber. Multiplayer is expanded further in Jedi Academy and offers more customization and locations.
Now for the lore of the game. There is quite a bit, as is the case with most of the Dark Forces saga. The developers/writers really liked the EU, that much is clear. One of the best connections is a Crystal Star reference. The game book The Dark Forces Saga, Part 6 and Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force establishes Hethrir’s Empire Reborn and Desann’s Imperial faction as one in the same. Hethrir was the overall brains of the operation, with Desann leader of the “reborn” force-sensitive troops and Dark Jedi. Galak Fyyar was named overall commander of military forces in the remnant. Rello Baruk, the Rodian gangster, goes on to make an appearance in Star Wars Galaxies as a quest giver in Jabba’s Palace. Tycho Celchu makes a guest appearance, credited as “Rogue Leader”. Since the game is dated to 12 ABY and Tycho is the only Rogue Leader until 18 ABY and Wedge has a separate voice actor in the next game Jedi Academy, we can safely assume the developers intended this to be Tycho. Accompanying Lando in the game is his famous ship, the Lady Luck. Also appearing for the first time is the Chistori species, which Desann is. Chistori would make appearances in content such as Dark Times and The Clone Wars (Video game). Of course Luke’s Praxeum makes an appearance on Yavin. Again, the developers really know their EU lore, and the next game Jedi Academy has some awesome references as well.
This is another game I can not recommend enough. Kyle Katarn is one of the greatest characters to come out of the video games, going on to appear in New Jedi Order, Legacy of the Force, Fate of the Jedi and more. The game still holds up today and I play it every so often. It’s more difficult than most but has some of the best lightsaber mechanics in a video game. Fantastic game with really fun gameplay that still holds up in 2022.