So, a brilliant Star Wars game, Jedi Knight II – Jedi Outcast, was rereleased this week, bringing it to PlayStation 4 (Yay!) and other platforms. Featuring Kyle Katarn, the original game was well-received, giving players a great experience at lightsabering people and/or occasionally Force choking them.
io9 published an article yesterday saying we need more Kyle Katarns, which is absolutely true. Kyle is a great protagonist, but James Whitbrook, the author, completely misses why Katarn is an outcast at the beginning of the game.
When Jedi Outcast opens, Kyle is back to his old mercenary/commando-y self, partnered up with Jan Ors, a criminally underused character, doing stuff to support the New Republic. Cool. Bitchin. What frustrated players was Kyle had neither his lightsaber nor his Force powers from Dark Forces II – Jedi Knight, a terrific game in which Kyle defeated Jerec and his Dark Jedi associates. Canonically, Kyle emerges from that game a hero of the Light side of the Force.
So, what happened to his powers and lightsaber? Why is he an outcast?
That took place in Mysteries of the Sith, a sequel to Jedi Knight, which apparently most people missed out on, which is too bad because it has a great story, stars Mara Jade (who had a purple lightsaber WAY before Mace Windu), and has the absolute best Jedi resolution in gaming–EVER.
Spoilers for Mysteries of the Sith Below
When Mysteries of the Sith opens, you’re still playing Kyle Katarn, who took Mara Jade as his apprentice. Mara’s pretty new to the hero business, but shows promise. After an Imperial attack, Kyle goes off to make sure the New Republic can evacuate and the player takes over Mara Jade.
After a series of missions, she learns that Kyle has vanished after he found a Sith temple on Dromund Kaas. Mara makes her way there and confronts Kyle, who has fallen to the Dark Side.
Now, here’s where it gets cool. MORE spoilers below.
When the player finally faces Kyle, attacking just leads to defeat. The only way to win is instead to Obi Wan up and extinguish your lightsaber when Kyle attacks.
This forces Kyle to struggle against the Dark Side and his heroic self to triumph when he won’t kill an unarmed opponent.
It’s an unbelievably cool moment.
Kyle, shaken by his brush with the Dark Side, gives up his lightsaber and eschews using the Force because he’s afraid of what he might become. That’s why you start Jedi Outcast as a runner-gunner type, rather than an actual Jedi.
Mysteries of the Sith is an overlooked gem among Star Wars games. It drew heavily from the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn, some of the finest Star Wars writing out there, gave players a chance to play a very cool female character (Mara is the best!), and brought victory only through applying the Jedi code.
We definitely need more gaming stories like that.