The Game:

Dark Forces veterans (of which there are thousands) will recognize the star of the show, Kyle Katarn. He reprises his role of rebel hero as he attempts to prevent Dark Jedi Jerec from gaining access to the Valley of the Jedi--a semi-mythical place similar to the elephants' graveyard of Tarzan serials, where the power of Jedi Knights past is said to reside. Anyway, a personal vendetta makes Kyle not quite the rebel hero initially. On his destructive quest to find the Valley, Jerec's murdered Kyle's father, a protector of this place. That role now reverts to Kyle. What makes Kyle's quest oh-so-special is that along the way, he picks up an understanding of the Force and develops into a Jedi Knight.

That's the premise behind the 21-level battle and exploration, which takes Kyle through some positively terrifying situations in which his control of the Force is all that stands between success and succumbing to the Dark Side. Being a Jedi is what this is all about, which gives Jedi Knight much more dimension than the fantastic-looking but ultimately straightforward Quake clone it could have easily been. "In terms of game design, I just focused on what being a Jedi Knight would be like," says Jedi project leader Justin Chin.


Use the Force:

Development and manipulation of the Force are the keys to battling successfully through the sprawling levels. A set "par" number of Force points is awarded for achievement, practice and awareness. In terms of gameplay, this includes finishing the level, what Jedi things you do in the
level, and what you find. At the end of the level, the player gets to choose how to allocate the collected Force points over a selection of specific powers. These unique powers are carried over to subsequent levels, so the character abilities of your Kyle Katarn will differ, sometimes signifcantly, from your buddy's. The depth and breadth of intrigue that this RPG-style character development brings to multiplayer games is staggering; more on that in a bit.

So what are these Force powers? "Most of the powers you've seen in the fillms are featured," Chin says. "But we had to tweak elements for gameplay; for instance, Ben's persuasion used on the stormtroopers on Tatooine translates into gameplay as invisibility." The designers also added Force Jump, which is "very useful but diffcult to incorporate in the engine, because it allows players to get to areas they weren't supposed to, and potentially hit their heads on the ceiling, and even the sky," says lead programmer Ray Gresko. Other Light Side powers include Repel (a shield), Speed, and the ability to pull weapons from an opponent's hand.

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