Title: STAR WARS Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Genre: Action, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 26/03/2020
Price: £17.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
For a Nintendo fan, there is little out there that rivals the excitement of a Nintendo Direct, or a Direct Mini. Finding out which of the latest and greatest games are coming to the Nintendo Switch is always enjoyable. What can often make a Direct that little bit extra special is a shadow drop. Ahhh…those famous words: ‘Available Now.’ The latest Direct Mini offered up several shadow drop titles and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was one that had the young and old, albeit mainly the old, feeling curious. Could it transport us back to a simpler time? Is it as good as we remember it to be? How would the graphics hold up?
In short: it does transport us back to a simpler time, the graphics hold up somewhat, and, whilst I wish it wasn’t so, it isn’t quite as good as we remember it to be. That’s not to say it isn’t worth a purchase, but for a game that felt ahead of its time in 2003, it is certainly showing its age now.
It is immediately apparent from the moment the game begins to load that its origins are firmly placed in the early Windows era of PC gaming and the first iteration of the Xbox. The title screen feels a little stretched and the developer/publisher introductions are blurry at best. Then the main menu appears, and many will be instantly transported back to ‘the good ol’ days.’ The faint smell of Cheesy Wotsits and Irn Bru waft past as I think back to the hours that a mate and I used to spend playing this series.
Nostalgia can be something of a double-edged lightsaber though unfortunately, and this is where this game will divide opinion. It’s true to form, something that can be exactly what fans want or can be deemed lazy. Personally, I believe it was best to keep it as close to the original as possible, as Jedi Academy was one of the best first/third-person shooter action games around in the early 2000s. That being said, there are several quality of life improvements which should have been made. With a retail price of £17.99, it certainly feels as though we deserved to have them.
The visuals will be the first thing that many notice, and rightly so. There is evidence of a visual upgrade. However, it certainly isn’t a drastic overhaul. It benefits from the Switch hardware and the HD upgrade, but not much else. There is also the aforementioned ‘stretch’ that the change to widescreen has created and this is a shame: especially during cutscenes.
What is even more of a shame with this latest Star Wars release is the combat. Wielding a lightsaber is meant to be a satisfying experience with an immense feeling of power and precision. Instead, clunky controls and underwhelming lack of controller feedback between lightsaber and enemy make it a somewhat drab affair. There are occasions where the lightweight feel of the saber comes in handy, and there is no doubt that some players will make combat look easy after a while, but the dreams that we associate with wielding a lightsaber seem to be sadly misplaced. This new Switch version has included motion controls which is a plus, but again, not a feature that gravitates this one to any higher standing than an average port.
Where Jedi Academy didn’t need improvement is in its campaign. It’s very typical of the franchise, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Serving up some fairly linear campaign missions in amongst user-selected missions that can be done in any order, the game covers a range of galaxies and a number of locations. It’s disappointing that the combat and visuals don’t complement the campaign, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.
The real ‘star’ of the Jedi Academy is the online multiplayer and is likely to be where most spend their time. It includes a variety of different game types including Free-For-All and Duel, and while concerns over the unfairness of cross-platform play with PC users have been shared, it is excellent to see it so well supported. Online games can be found, although it doesn’t seem to be as populated as one would like to ensure a game every time.
Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was to be expected after the release of the equally as long title, Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. There isn’t much to love, but there isn’t too much to loathe either. It’s a bog-standard port of a classic from the early 2000s and players will have known from the moment it was announced whether it is one for them or not.
Rapid Review Rating
You can purchase STAR WARS Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/STAR-WARS-Jedi-Knight-Jedi-Academy-1748055.html