This review was originally written in January 2004, but as I said I’d like to post all of my stuff in one place, so I am posting it on my site as well. I will post more of these in the coming days.
- Title: Star Wars: Jedi Knight – Mysteries of the Sith
- Platform: PC (Windows 9x)
- Developer & Publisher: Lucasarts
- Released: 1998
Jedi Knight. A great and, at the time, innovative FPS. I am a huge Star Wars fan, so I loved the game. Mysteries of the Sith is the add-on for Jedi Knight, and is a very worthy follow up. Jedi Knight and Mysteries of the Sith is my favorite FPS.
Jedi Knight and Mysteries of the Sith are very similar, as is expected from an add-on. But in this case that is a good thing because Jedi Knight is an extremely well done game. It does not add much to Jedi Knight’s formula, except for being able to use both the dark and light force at the same time, and adding more guns, but that is okay because Jedi Knight was already among the best in the genre in this category. Jedi Knight is unique, and has a good engine that can display large areas competently and does so often. Yes, by today’s standards the graphics are badly out of date, but if you can look past that you will see a game doing the best it can with the graphical limitations of the engine it is in. And besides, I like the game’s look. It is a nice representation of Star Wars and, as I said, does large outdoor areas very nicely, unlike most engines from when it came out. Quake is painfully bad at doing outdoor areas and even Quake III, whose engine is used in Jedi Knight 2 and 3, had problems here… none in this game. You are frequently in areas which stretch into the horizon. This sense of scale helps make the already brilliant level designs of JK/MotS even better. To me, while they have many strengths, the best part about Jedi Knight is its brilliant level designs. Level design is key to gameplay, and Jedi Knight succeeded brilliantly. Mysteries of the Sith continues that tradition, with more levels in the same style of Jedi Knight. Some are even better than the best ones in Jedi Knight, amazingly, given how good some levels are in the original game.
The last three levels, especially, are very memorable. I would say that that group of three still has yet to be equalled in any FPS… they are just that good. The only gameplay problem I can think of would come in here, however. The first 11 levels are good, but do not prepare you for the challenge and uniqueness of the last three. When you reach them, you will be in for something of a shock as the difficulty suddenly jumps up several levels and you lose all your guns, for good. I truly loved this part of the game, however, so I think that perhaps they should have reduced the doing small quests part in the middle of the game and expanded the final segment. It would have been great if there had been more than three levels on the planet, given how unique they are… Large, quite long, very challenging levels are the hallmark of Jedi Knight and they are fully in evidence here. They also can frequently be confusing and make you search the levels for where to go next all the time, and with frequent (but admittedly mostly switch-based — though not all. Some are inventive.) puzzles. but again, I like this aspect of the game. It is a refreshing change from your average FPS where it is nearly impossible to get lost. Of course the automap helps greatly here. Without it the game would definitely be a lot harder, and having it is a major plus. I think all FPSes should have automaps and am sad to see now few of newer FPSes have them. The level design in these games stands out especially well when compared to Jedi Knight 2 or 3, who have better looks but simpler and less complex level designs that just do not compare at all to the original JK. The gameplay gets a definite 10.
Graphically, as I said, the game is unmistakably old. Low poly, not that great texture detail, amazingly bad water… no one would play this game for its looks, and if you can’t get over that you will not like the game. But I like it because it presents the Star Wars universe very well, and allows for that massive scale. I give it an 9, considering when the game was released. I’d like to give it a 10, but even for then the engine was not exactly the best looking one out there. Based on today’s graphics of course it looks very bad, but judging old games by the graphical standards of now is not fair. And anyway, none of those better looking competitors could make levels as massive and lengthy as this one.
The game’s sound is very good. All the sounds sound very similar to the movie sounds, which is great. And the music can be really good. Yes, it is mostly just remixes of the movie music, but it is presented very, very well. I especially like the music in the last level, perhaps because of how much time I spent confused in it before figuring out how to progress… Nothing to complain about here. 10.0
As other reviews have mentioned, the story is admittedly weak. The game is broken up into groups of levels that are each stories but only have some things in common with eachother. It does feel like a group of mini-missions at times. It does have a story, though, and that story is better if you have read some of the Star Wars books, particularly Timothy Zahn’s popular, and great, trilogy of books that the games draw greatly from. If you haven’t read those books, however, a lot of things in the game just won’t make as much sense. It explains things well enough ingame, but it makes it more interesting if you know the backstory. Still, each of the level groups really does have a seperate theme and story that only carries over on some issues. This is definitely the biggest flaw in the game, and don’t get this if you want a great and deep plot. It is good enough, however, and I have read the books so I loved seeing things from them in a Star Wars game — that does not happen very often. 7.0.
The final major aspect of JK:MotS is the multiplayer. It is essentially the same as the multiplayer in Jedi Knight, just with some more characters and levels to choose from. Still, given how good the multiplayer is in the main game, again, the best thing for them to do was not change things much. Also, some of the new levels are great, and the added force powers make things interesting since force is one of the most unique and fun aspects of the Jedi Knight series. 10.0.
In conclusion, Jedi Knights: Mysteries of the Sith is a brilliant expansion to one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time. Especially if you’re a Star Wars fan, certainly, but it has enough good things about it that everyone should try the game. The graphics haven’t stood up to time very well, and plenty of other games have done scripted events and puzzles, but Jedi Knight and its similar expansion have held up great.
And those last three levels… wow. Completely unique gameplay. Without spoiling anything, the final level of this game is one of the greatest FPS levels of all time, I would say, and is a true work of art. It is a hard and frustrating games at time and getting lost or stuck not knowing where to go is easy, but it is well worth it to get to the end. Also, if you buy Jedi Knight these days Mysteries of the Sith is included in the box, so they work as one long game. A true masterpiece, and it’s too bad that Lucasarts didn’t keep this team together to do a sequel. I’m sure they would have done a better job than Raven.
But if you aren’t a hardcore gamer, keeping a FAQ handy might be a good idea for this game.
Gameplay – 10
Graphics – 9 (by the standards of the day; by today’s low, a 4 or 5 maybe… but I do love the style and size of the levels…)
Sound – 10
Multiplayer – 10
Overall – 9. And still among the best FPSes ever. This gets a solid A! It might even deserve an A+/10.