20 years on, Jedi Charlatan 2 still has the best agitative lightsaber duels in videogames

Kyle Katarn looking at you while holding his blue lightsaber.
(Image credit: Atramentous Software)

This commodity aboriginal appeared in PC Gamer annual affair 385 in June 2023, as allotment of our Reinstall series. Every ages we amount up a admired classic—and acquisition out whether it holds up to our avant-garde gaming sensibilities.

Has Jedi Outcast assuredly had its day? For over 20 years, Atramentous Software’s aftereffect to 1997’s Jedi Charlatan has (with its sister bold Jedi Academy) been the gold accepted for Jedi-based action. Its adept assuming of Force admiral and lightsaber action has never been bettered, not alike by mega-budget Brilliant Wars amateur like The Force Unleashed or Jedi: Collapsed Order.

Yet the aftereffect to Collapsed Order, Jedi: Survivor, had me doubting. Respawn’s chase up is not alone a arresting action-adventure, but additionally a far bigger Jedi actor than Collapsed Adjustment was. It has added force powers, a added ambit of lightsaber stances, enemies that are added fun to fight, and crucially, a brand that cuts through Stormtroopers rather than artlessly beating them. It’s the aboriginal Jedi bold back Outcast and Academy that feels aces to accompany the council, possibly alike advance it.

The alone way to ascertain the accuracy was to comedy Jedi Outcast again, which doesn’t booty abundant convincing, but it’s nice to accept an excuse. And accepting spent a few evenings abstraction my way through the Brilliant Wars universe, the acknowledgment intrigues me. Jedi: Survivor is a bigger bold than Jedi Outcast. But alone in some areas.

One such breadth is the introduction. Jedi Survivor bliss off with a adventuresome break-in on Coruscant that lets you apply best of the toys you apart in the antecedent bold from the start.

Outcast, by comparison, has you comedy the aboriginal bristles levels of the bold after any Jedi admiral at all. Afterwards falling to the aphotic ancillary in Jedi Charlatan afore actuality active by Mara Afflict in the game’s Mysteries of the Sith expansion, ball spacebeard Kyle Katarn cuts himself off from the force. Katarn again allotment to his acquisitive ways, relying alone on a blaster and his acquaintance and pilot Jan Ors. Outcast bliss off with Kyle and Jan exploring an Administrative Balance beginning for Mon Mothma, area they ascertain the imps accept been administering abstracts with crystals. And no, not like your new-age aunt does.

(Image credit: Atramentous Software)

 Patience adolescent padawan

 Jedi Outcast’s addition isn’t terrible. It serves a all-important purpose, and the bold is a able ballista (it is congenital in the Convulse 3 engine, afterwards all.) But it’s boring and, accustomed how ascendant the lightsaber becomes in its additional half, too stingy with its weapon roster. Announcement Stormtroopers in Kejim Beginning is absorbing enough, but accepting your ankles nipped at by tiny aliens in Arcturus Mines is a absolute bust. The base is a arrangement area you escort an Administrative administrator up a flight of stairs in the apprehension centre, which takes aeons as he moves at the acceleration of a Hutt afterwards a big dinner.

Flawed as it is, though, the addition isn’t the allotment of the bold which has age-old the most. As Kyle and Jan adapt to leave Arcturus, amethyst Sith anachronistic Desann turns up and tosses Kyle about like a animated ball, starting him bottomward the aisle of reconnecting with the force. Afterwards endlessly off at the Basin of the Jedi to get his admiral back, again visiting Luke’s Jedi temple on Yavin IV to retrieve his lightsaber, Kyle active to Coruscant’s angry accompanying Nar Shaddaa, hot on the aisle of a Rodian called Reelo Baruk who Kyle believes can advance him to Desann.

When I aboriginal played Jedi Outcast, I admired Nar Shaddaa. Its twisting, addled ambiance seemed amazing at the time, and its antic cast of sci-fi seediness is always appealing. The antecedent arrangement in the bar is abundant too. That your aboriginal lightsaber action involves slicing up a bar abounding of abyss is a fun callback to A New Hope, and I adulation Kyle’s camp line, “Never assurance a bartender with bad grammar.”

(Image credit: Atramentous Software)

But the blow of this area has absent abundant of its appeal. The circuitous ambiance agency you consistently accept to stop and attending about to navigate. This is accomplished in isolation, but endlessly agency actuality murked instantly by Rodian snipers armed with disruptor rifles, or absolute to Bogano by three-eyed Grans who can bung thermal detonators like a tennis-ball machine. Kyle’s movement additionally has a slight crisis to it which makes platforming abundantly precarious. The bold isn’t difficult, per se. But it throws a lot of accessories your way, which makes advance through this area added about balloon and absurdity than absolute skill.

Moreover, angry enemies after lightsabers is one breadth Jedi: Survivor has Outcast beat. Your Force admiral and adeptness to anticipate blaster bolts are both abundant added able and abundant added fun to use in Survivor, decidedly Cal’s affection for affairs Stormtroopers assimilate the point of his saber. In Outcast, you absorb a lot of time block enemies around, flailing at them with your blade. It’s fun, but feels beneath refined.

All that changes back you accommodated Lando Calrissian (voiced with alloyed activity by Baton Dee Williams) and escape in his affluence amplitude yacht to Bespin. Admitting actuality actually in the sky, Billow Burghal has far beneath in the way of baleful drops, while the cheap-kill abyss gradually accord way to added anxiously alarming Stormtroopers. Best of all, Bespin is area Outcast introduces the Reborn, the Sith warriors artificially alloyed with the Force by Desann.

A lightsaber master

Duels comedy out abnormally every time, authoritative them endlessly replayable.

The moment the Reborn access on the scene, Jedi Outcast lights up. Their addition is alluringly handled too. There’s no abundant fanfare, no adumbration at what awaits you at the top of one of Billow City’s colossal blast tubes. You get to the top, there’s a quick cutscene, and aback you’re trading assault with a hooded adolescent wielding a red lightsaber. You’re every bit as afraid as Kyle is.

From actuality on out, Jedi Outcast is a stone-cold masterpiece. The way it elaborates on this antecedent action is masterful. The abutting appointment takes abode a few apartment later, central a carbonite alcove you’ve been analytic for. In added words, Jedi Outcast lets you comedy out Luke’s iconic bound with Vader at the acme of Authority in the additional lightsaber action of the game. From here, the flights become added intense. While dangerous, the Reborn are acutely no bout for a absolute Jedi, so they alpha to ambuscade you from the caliginosity or advance you in groups. Eventually, they alpha cutting lightsaber-resistant armour, authoritative them abundant added abiding and able to break in the action longer.

And yes, the lightsaber action itself is still fantastic, and is area Atramentous has the bend over Respawn. Jedi: Survivor does some things better, decidedly attrition adversary lightsaber attacks. But ultimately, Respawn’s arrangement is still couched in canned animations and beautiful finishing moves, defective the free-flowing action of Jedi Outcast. The actuality that lightsaber accident is decoupled from whether you’re accepted it or not agency enemies can be dead at any moment during a fight, whether you advisedly allotment their arm off, or if they bolt their bottom on your brand as they try to bound over you. Consequently, duels comedy out abnormally every time, authoritative them endlessly replayable, and endlessly compelling.

(Image credit: Atramentous Software)

Compare that to the lightsaber duels in Jedi: Survivor, and while there is absolutely fun to be had in them, and acknowledgment to altered action stances there is some replayability on action as you analysis out how anniversary works adjoin specific enemies, the actuality that you’re still bound in to those canned animations agency there is still a formulaic feel to duelling. Jedi: Survivor never absolutely all-overs off its Aphotic Souls action mechanics, and that agency there’s a akin of baked-in acerbity that Jedi Outcast doesn’t have. This doesn’t consistently comedy in the earlier game’s favour, as there are times back you’ll be defeated in lightsaber action acutely unfairly, with the added amoebic movement of the brand arch to unpredictable, arresting failures. But, overall, it adds absurd action and aroma to anniversary battle.

One added breadth area Outcast holds its own adjoin Jedi: Survivor is storytelling. Survivor’s adventure is grander, bigger performed, and plays with added absorbing ideas. But Outcast has the added articular artifice and a stronger capital character. Like Bright Dynamics’ adaptation of Lara Croft, Cal Kestis is authentic added by alien agony than any amount personality traits, admitting Kyle has a bright worldview and a articular centralized life. He additionally isn’t a acceptable actuality by default. He’s cynical, angry and absolutely blessed to lower himself to the akin of his enemies. He’s already collapsed to the aphotic ancillary once, which agency he charge assignment at actuality a Jedi, and authority himself to a college standard. This makes him feel a abundant added adult, layered, circuitous advocate than Jedi: Survivor’s Cal, who emotionally charcoal bark abysmal and added simple as a character.

Has Jedi Outcast assuredly had its day? Actually not. Instead, it’s an older, wiser accompaniment to Jedi: Survivor’s active exuberance. The adept to the apprentice. Its flaws may be added arresting with age, and it takes best than anytime to get to the acceptable stuff. But back Jedi Outcast draws its lightsaber, it can still bound with the best of them.