Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith
It has been five years since Kyle Katarn destroyed the seven Dark Jedi in the game Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. Recently, Jedi Master Luke Skywalker has convinced Mara, a smuggler and Jedi apprentice, to abandon the Dark Side and she has joined Kyle on the remote base of Altyr 5 to complete her training. While there, Kyle has learned of a previously unknown ancient temple of the Sith and, convinced that he has taught Mara to the fullest of his ability, he leaves to investigate.
Mysteries of the Sith is a companion pack for Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II with 21 new levels and eight multi-player levels, including five deathmatch and three capture the flag. It begins with Jedi Master Kyle, complete with several Force powers as well as a lightsaber, saving Altyr 5 from an Imperial invasion. Afterward, he leaves to investigate the Temple of the Sith and you begin playing the role of Jedi-Apprentice Mara Jade who has taken on several tasks. The first is to protect the ancient Jedi artifact known as the Holocron and the second is to come to an agreement with the notorious crime boss Ka'Pa the Hutt.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Upon starting the game for the first time, I was asked to insert CD One of Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II for verification. "Great," I thought. "This will be a fun little chore every time I start up." Boy, was I wrong. One nice feature for Mysteries of the Sith is that once the original verification is completed, you don’t even need Jedi Knight installed. In fact, the game recommends that you uninstall the original to save on disk space.
After setting up the game for 3DFX and configuring the controls to my liking, I started on Medium Difficulty and was immediately thrown into the action. Right from the beginning I knew something was different. On the first level I noticed that the New Republic guards, instead of walking around aimlessly or attacking me, were actually helping me! They were fighting and fending off the invading Storm Troopers. Although they were not of much help, they did give the game a sense that other things were happening in the Star Wars universe besides my current adventure.
As with all the Dark Forces games, the levels in Mysteries of the Sith are awesome. Not only are they huge, but they are incredibly unique as well. The level design, too, is no less than perfect. One of my most favorite levels is set on a Rebel space cruiser. Your first objective is to go down to the fighter bay and manually open the doors so you can get your fighters out. When you do complete your objective, you actually see the fighters lift off and fly right out the door! Another level that stuck in my head was a swamp level near the Sith temple: You are outside and there is lightning flashing intermittently, lighting up huge statues. While none of these elements affect you directly, they really set the mood for the level.
As with any add-on or companion disk, there are a few new items and other goodies thrown in throughout the game, including 4 new weapons: the Electroscope, Carbonate Gun, Seeking Rail Gun, and a BlasTech DL-44 Pistol (the model the Imperial Scout Troopers carry). By far, I found the Electroscope to be the most fun as well as the most useful. It is a scope for the Storm Trooper rifle and can zoom in to pick off enemies at great distances. It uses four cells but is well worth it, for you can kill just about any enemy with one hit. The others are cool but somewhat useless.
In addition to the four all-new weapons, LucasArts has re-worked and polished the system of Force powers. Gone are the days of having either Light or Dark specific powers. Instead, you now have four groups and you can choose only a few powers from each each. I really enjoyed this system much better as I can have one of my favorite Light skills, Healing, as well as Dark powers such as Chain lightning and Destruction. Also included in this new system are around eight new powers ranging from Force to Deadly Sight, a spell in which everybody in your vision takes constant damage while it is activated. I found the new spells to be rather cool and some are actually required to solve puzzles.
The graphics in Mysteries of the Sith are a mixed bag. There are still problems with characters standing next to walls and "vanishing" into them, and the floating exterior camera could use some work too. However, the bad guys as well as the levels are nicely rendered and textured. The graphics engine supports 3Dfx, but even with my Monster3D and 4 MB of RAM I was unable to achieve resolutions higher than 640x480.
The designers of Mysteries of the Sith decided to stray from FMV (Full Motion Video) for the cutscenes and use computer-generated animation. In general, the cutscenes do an adequate job of advancing the story, but do suffer from some animation glitches (e.g. when the characters walk, their movement is out of place with their footsteps and they appear to be walking on air).
The audio in Mysteries of the Sith is fantastic. The CD has 13 fully-orchestrated audio tracks, including selections from the Star Wars movies, the original Jedi Knight, and some all-new tracks. The best part is that the music reacts to gameplay (e.g., when pirates come spewing out of a bay door as you take control of a turret, the music switches from a mellow, low theme to a fast-paced track).
The sound effects are also done with extraordinary quality. Most of the sounds from Jedi Knight are still there and a few new ones have been thrown in. The NPCs also talk a bit more and even give you your orders in some missions. As a nice touch, at certain points throughout the game, you even get to hear Mara give some witty comments about the current situation.
Minimum: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, P90 or faster, 16 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, PCI graphics card, 16-bit Windows 95 compatible sound card, and Microsoft DirectX 5.0 (included with the game).
Recommended: P133 or faster, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive or faster, 3D acceleration with 4 MB or higher, 28.8 or faster modem for Internet play.
I found the documentation for Mysteries of the Sith to be very complete and extensive. Instead of taking the route of a flimsy install guide that fits in the front of the jewel case, LucasArts has included a full-blown manual. It is very helpful, as it provides descriptions for all the old weapons as well as the new. It also has information on the story, including the new bad guys and vehicles.
I must hand it to LucasArts on this one. Mysteries of the Sith has exceeded my expectations. It has everything a good companion disk should, adding new features such as colored lighting and new characters, while staying true to the formula that made Jedi Knight such a success. If you played and beat Jedi Knight and are looking for more, this game is for you.