Its been quite a while since I last reviewed a single player campaign, so long in fact that I cant even remember what it was… Then again, I have a bad memory anyway. :P
Anyway, here Mercenary presents us with an enhanced conversion to JKA of a single player campaign mod that he made back in 2003 for JK2. Here is a quick synopsis straight from the readme:
Dash Rendar has been hired to smuggle weapons to a mining colony planning a hostile takeover from a corrupt organization that has been exploiting them. After the reliable weapons supplier fails to meet at the rendezvous point, Dash goes on a search for him at the coordinates of where he last made communication.
So to start off, lets have a look at the first level, and its good and bad points.
Part 1: Investigation and Recovery
Straight away, as soon as you start up this mod, you can tell it is of excellent quality. After the opening scroll, explaining a bit about the story we then get to watch custom made CG cinematic’s, which are very impressive, considering the majority of modders (including me) probably have absolutely no idea how to make a good CG cinematic. Not only were the CG cinematic’s throughout the game impressive, but so were the in-game cut-scenes, which I would say were as good quality as the actual JKA single player cut-scenes.
Once the game proper starts, you are put into a huge open map, which is set on a dark, barren and rocky world. Nearby is an enterable version of Dash Rendar’s ship, the Outrider. Unfortunately though only the main area in the ship is enterable, all the other doors are locked. .If you try to open them you will occasionally get a comment from Dash’s droid sidekick Leebo, such as “The ship is safe with me sir” and We’ll never get paid if you stay here all day”, which I thought were nice touches. There is a long trail that you must travel; through barren canyons and even a short tunnel at one point. The terrain is well done, and if I had to guess, I would say this terrain was made by hand, rather than with a program like EasyGen. If that is the case then this area represents a huge amount of high quality work.
Once you have worked your way through the barren canyons, encountering some Imperial Troops along the way, you will eventually find yourself at a large chasm. The only way across is a hovering tram that must be summoned from the other side. Once there you must battle more Stormies and then go through the huge doors into a cargo bay like area. Though the architecture was fairly simple in these areas it was well made and well textured and brought back fond memories of playing through JK2 for the first time. Once inside the main structure you need to find your way to a conference room, which holds your ultimate objective for this level. I won’t say any more on that matter, as I don’t want to spoil the fun! :P
The scripting for the level is very well done and I didn’t encounter any bugs when I played through it. It ran smoothly and all the proper events and cinematic’s were triggered at the right time. One thing in particular that I really liked was the way that every now and again, once you had passed certain points, Leebo would comm you, giving you a hint on where to go next. An ingenuitive little game mechanic there!
All in all the level was of very high quality, although there were a few things that I think could have been improved. For one, I think there should have been a bit more detail in the levels – though the architecture was good, there were a lot of flat plain areas. Also, I think some rock models scattered around the canyons would have been good as well, as they seem just a bit too clean and clear for rocky canyons on a barren planet. I think these issues could be put down to the fact that this mod was originally made for JK2, which has a less powerful engine than JKA and thus cant handle as much detail in a map.
My major concern though was that the outside area was very dark. After a while wandering around I had to turn um my gamma in the options menu, because I just couldn’t see where I was going properly. I think the ambient lighting in the worldspawn should have been raised a little to make the map a little less dark, especially the canyon areas. That’s just my opinion however, and like I said, a quick change in the gamma settings fixed the issue without much problem.
There was only one part of the gameplay that bothered me; getting into the conference room where your final objective is. It took me forever to figure out how I was supposed to get in there! I wont spoil the challenge for you, but I will give you one hint, for the sake of your sanity… try and find destructible crates, they will help you to get into that final room…
Now lets move onto the second, and last level of the mod:
Part 2: Retribution
This level is much larger than the first level, and as Mercenary explains in his readme, the gameplay of this level is non-linear, which means that you can complete the multiple objectives in any order you want. This time around, your ultimate objective is to find the missing weapons supplier, another objective includes stopping some experiments that are being conducted on (apparently) frozen people. I think they’re frozen anyway…they look it! Some of the other objectives include blowing up some computer banks, and finding a way to shut off some power generators.
This level is much lighter than the previous one, since it now in the daytime, making it easier to find your way around this time! You start off near a landing area with some tall buildings and walkways above you, and a gentle snowfall drifting through the air. As I said, this level is huge, much, much bigger than the first level and the areas are interconnected by many different paths – elevators, corridors, locked doors that need opening – which form somewhat of a maze. Again Leebo will comm you occasionally with information on where to go and what to look for next. There is no point me trying to describe the path to your ultimate objective, because it could be different each time you play, due to the non-linear nature of the level. This is a very interesting and clever gameplay mechanic used by Mercenary here, as it means your game doesn’t have to be the same next time around, you can complete things in a different order if you want. This does lead to some potential issues however, which I will come to a bit later.
My favourite areas were probably the TIE fighter hangar and the nearby control room, which reminded me a bit of the Doomgiver levels from JK2. I must say though that those TIE fighter pilots seemed a little too engrossed in whatever they were doing (maybe fixing their ships?) as they didn’t seem to notice me when I walked in. Only when I started shooting at them did they seem to bother moving! :P Another great area is the power core type thing, at the top of which are some nicely scripted walkways that swing down, allowing you to get into the central control panel of the power core.
Once again, the level is interspersed with well made cut scenes and some pretty impressive voice acting, especially from Leebo the droid.
As I said above, the non-linear nature of this level is a big advantage, as it allows you to complete the level how you want. However it is at the same time also a disadvantage. Why? Because it is easy to get lost and forget what you were doing. In a linear level, you go from the start to the finish, completing your objectives along the way. You go in a straight line, so to speak (although not literally). Whereas in a non-linear level, if you don’t keep track of where you have been, you can end up going through the same places multiple times trying to find your way around which can take quite a long time and also be rather frustrating.
A few other minor issues were that the objectives seemed a little vague at times. One of them is to shut down the two power generating areas. The first one I found easily enough, but it took me a while to figure out where the second one was. I kept trying to blow up two rows of generators in a small room, figuring that since they were near the first power generator you had to destroy, they must be the second ones. But alas they weren’t, and it took me a while to figure out where the second generator was and how to get to it. Lastly there is the instance where you have to find a switch to turn off some shields blocking your path, however I feel the game didn’t give you enough information on what you were looking for – after all there are many switches in the map, how would you know which one to use? Although, that said, in the end it didn’t take me that long to find the switch, as it was in a nearby room. Still though I did panic for a moment, wondering if I had forgotten some switch somewhere within this gigantic map!
Overall this is a fantastic single player campaign, which despite the few frustrations, I did thoroughly enjoy. It is a bit of a shame that the story isnt longer, as I would have liked to find out what happens next. But when you remember that Mercenary has done almost all the work here himself - as opposed to the guys at Raven software who had an entire team to create JK2 and JKA’s single player campaigns - you suddenly realise that two levels for one person is a heck of a lot of work.
All in all this is a very impressive mod, and I hope to see more work like this from Mercenary in the future! :D
I definitely recommend downloading this guys, you won’t be disappointed!
New Textures: Yes New Sounds: Yes New Music: Yes Game Types: Single Player Campaign
********************************************** JEDI KNIGHT: JEDI ACADEMY SINGLE PLAYER LEVELS ********************************************** Title: Dash Rendar Resurgence Author: Mercenary E-Mail: email@example.com Website: http://mercenary.bravehost.com/ File Name: dr_resurgence.zip File Size: 56MB Date Released: 2/3/09 DESCRIPTION: This is an enhanced port of my single player campaign released for Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast in 2003. Dash Rendar has been hired to smuggle weapons to a mining colony planning a hostile takeover from a corrupt organization that has been exploiting them. After the reliable weapons supplier fails to meet at the rendezvous point, Dash goes on a search for him at the coordinates of where he last made communication. INSTALLATION: ONLY ENGLISH IS SUPPORTED. Patch 1.01 is required. Unzip the contents to the GameData folder of your Jedi Academy installation. Double click the dr_resurgence batch file to start the game...and may the force be with you. THE USE OF CHEATS MAY INTERFERE WITH THE INTENDED FUNCTIONING OF THIS MOD. CREDITS: - Dash Rendar model: sniper wolf, Kman and Toonces - BlasTech DL-44: Major Clod - Outrider: Rob A. (Adarin) - Raven Software, some mapping structures were reused - The required JK2 assets are included - Mapping is inspired by Raven Software's Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast retail game and demo - Voice overs by Jamie D. Krysowaty, Droid Maul and Adam Stimpson - Texture Resources: imageafter.com, cgtextures.com, spiralgraphics.biz - Terrain blending shader by Szico VII - Planet rings Vue ecosystem by Philippe Bouyer - Leebo image from Shadows of the Empire N64 game MOD TESTERS/ADVISORS: - lassev - Pahricida - hhunter6 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to all those who've supported my Jedi Knight mods over the years. Your support is appreciated and hasn't gone unnoticed. NOTES: - If this mod is placed directly in the base folder of your Jedi Academy installation, certain files will be substituted until removal. Therefore, the installation method mentioned above is recommended. - All custom content made by myself may be used in your mods, and you may make modifications and make derivatives as long as proper credit is given. The custom content is not for commercial use. TIPS: - The silver crates can be destroyed and sometimes yield weapons and other items. - There are 2 secret areas in the first level and 3 in the second. - Leebo will provide information through Dash's wrist communicator. - The second level is non-linear. Finish the objectives in any order you want. Play the level differently every time. - If you've played the original JK2 version, pay attention to the objectives in the second level, there's been a slight addition to one of the objectives. LEGAL: THIS MODIFICATION IS NOT MADE, DISTRIBUTED, OR SUPPORTED BY ACTIVISION, RAVEN, OR LUCASARTS ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY LLC. ELEMENTS TM & © LUCASARTS ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY LLC AND/OR ITS LICENSORS.
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