I'm no Jedi; I'm just a guy with a lightsaber and a few questions.
— Kyle Katarn
A series of Star Wars-based First-Person Shooter-cum-Hack and SlashVideo Games, with accompanying novellas. They take place during and after the original trilogy, and revolve around Kyle Katarn, a Stormtrooper-turned-mercenary-turned-Jedi who roams around the seedy side of the galaxy. The series consists of four full games and one Expansion Pack to date:
Anti-Frustration Features: Officers who carry keycards cannot be pushed around by force powers, concussive weapons or any other form of knocking them away and potentially into a pit to prevent an Unwinnable scenario.
Anti-Hero: Kyle is fully aware of how tempting the dark side is, to the point he rejected the force to avoid eventually falling. Even then, he is a prime example that Good Is Not Nice.
Awesome, but Impractical: Force Drain. While it's satisfying to use and has an awesome animation when used up close, it leaves you very vulnerable to fire since you can't move while using it, and it quickly burns through your force pool. Compare to Force Heal, which can be used both in and out of combat, and at higher levels allows you to freely move around.
His most notable accomplishment is beating at least one Kell dragon to death. With his fists. Note that each Kell dragon is as tall as a human, at least three times as long, and normally eats humans for breakfast (at least the one Kyle fought did). And he did this beforelearning to use the Force.
He's so badass that if you take the Dark Side route in Academy and fight him as the final boss, you aren't fighting to kill him. "Winning" involves you crashing the ceiling on him for a distraction and running away.
And in said final boss fight, he can do something that cannot be done by you or any other character in the game. He can actually pull away your lightsaber! For any other character, The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard would apply. Kyle is simply just that badass.
Don't forget that he also will sometimes not even bother with the lightsaber, but will instead grab you and start punching you!
Kyle can snark at Luke Skywalker and get away with it.
Blown Across the Room: The Flechette when fired at point blank range will do this, as will the primary and secondary fire of the Concussion Rifle, and rockets. High level Force Push and Force Lightning will also hurl enemies across the room.
Force Push/Pull, at least at lower levels. Not as impressive as Lightning, but very useful for crowd control.
Boss in Mook Clothing: Despite appearing as a common enemy, we have the Kell Dragons and the Vornskr: both are quite fast and can kill you in two or three bites. If you're underwater there's the large Drugon, who's quite fast and deals a lot of damage.
Catch and Return: Timely use of Force Push allows you to send rockets, Concussion Rifle blasts, and Thermal Detonators right back at whoever fired them. For bonus points, time your push for just as they fire.
Star Wars: Dark Forces features a mission entitled thusly: "Mission I: The Death Star Plans: Operation Skyhook, Phase 2". It was merely a foretaste of what was to come.
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II: Mysteries of the Sith
Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (leading to the common joke that its full title would be Star Wars: Dark Forces IV: Jedi Knight III: Jedi Outcast II: Jedi Academy)
Combat Pragmatist: Kyle in spades, whether he's using both guns and his lightsaber, or light and dark sides of the force. The epitome of this is perhaps in Outcast, where he interrupts Galak's gloating speech to hurl his lightsaber into the shield generator.
Composite Character / Expy: Kyle is basically the personality of Han with the character arc of Luke. Even as a Jedi his relationship with Luke mirrors that of Luke and Han.
Most notably, enemy Force users' perfect reflexes and control with their powers: they always push-deflect missiles and concussion blasts, straight back at you and with perfect accuracy. - which leads to some interesting results◊ when two AI force-users face off against each other in the middle of a battlefield.
Rodians carrying disruptor rifles can often fire multiple shots with less than half a second between each, depriving you of your only real defence against them (that is, the random chance that you'll automatically Force-dodge shots from them).
Some enemy Force users have limitless Force energy, allowing them to break free from drain and grip at any moment. They can actually abort their special swings to avoid attacks and tend to aim at your model—sometimes killing you by hitting something that seems empty space for the player (oh yeah, they also invisibly "evade" your attacks - slashing their face will occasionally leave them unharmed except for a visible burned mark in the middle). Their Saber Throw also seems to be at the maximum level - it will stop right where you stand and keep swinging until it kills you or is parried. Yours, on the other hand, will pass further and stop at its maximum range before rank 3.
Dodge the Bullet: This can be done even without force powers, but is much easier with Force Speed. The only exception is the Hit Scan Disruptor Rifle, unless you get lucky and your character automatically dodges the shot. NPC Force users will also dodge it perfectly, unless they're in midair when you fire.
The Admiral's Command Chamber has reviews of mods for Dark Forces through Jedi Outcast, although the latter section didn't get far before reviews were discontinued.
The Dark Forces Mod is an upgraded port of Dark Forces to the Jedi Academy engine, with 6 levels released as of 2010.
The Massassi Temple is the largest website ever dedicated to Jedi Knight and Mysteries of the Sith. New levels have been released for them as late as January 2010.
Guns Are Useless: Once you get your lightsaber, you will generally ever use 3 guns again: one for stealth kills, one for long range kills and one for robots.
Harder Than Hard: Jedi Master difficulty. In Outcast and Academy, you have 50% health and 50% shields, and enemy Force users are much smarter. Also, in Academy, major bosses like Alora, Tavion, and Marka Ragnos can take 4 times as much damage as they normally can.
An offshoot of the Trope Namer. Averted in Outcast, though, in which stormtroopers are much smarter and deadlier than typical (not helped by the engine's fuzzy blaster hit detection). The levels taking place before you get Force powers will leave you in tears.
Interestingly, in the level where you take an AT-ST through a canyon the stormtroopers firing rockets at you have horrible accuracy, almost never hitting you in your 20 meter tall vehicle. However if you exited the AT-ST every rocket would fire straight at your character.
A less subtle piece of Lampshade Hanging is a sample of Enemy Chatter in Outcast where a stormtrooper will express his frustration over the armor's helmet, claiming that it obstructs his sight.
And again in Academy: in the mission in which you infiltrate some catacombs, you can overhear two mercenaries talking (providing that you don't kill them as soon as you see them), with one of them complaining about how his helmet obstructs his sight, much like back when he was a stormtrooper.
Another variation in Jedi Academy, where a snowtrooper in the first main story mission mentions that he was a champion racer on speeder bikes, selected to be a scout trooper, but couldn't see out of the helmet, caused a pile-up that destroyed about a dozen speeder bikes, and was immediately kicked back out.
All of which can be considered a call-back to Luke's (invokedpossibly ad-libbed) complaint in A New Hope: "I can't see a thing in this helmet!"
If it comes to it, the Stormtrooper blaster rifle is generally not a very accurate weapon in the games even for the player. Only some weapons in Outcast and Academy are accurate enough that a shot flies exactly where you were aiming even at a distance; the blaster rifle is certainly not one of these, though with Force Sense at rank 2 or above you can force it to be perfectly accurate (somehownote The idea may be about "using your feelings" or whatever to aim better, but that doesn't really work when you can one-hand a blaster pistol with perfect accuracy no matter what, not to mention the millions of contradictory explanations in the series for why exactly the stormtrooper's rifle is so inaccurate in the first place, a lot of which have nothing to do with the user).
The relatively poor quality of the E11 is Lampshaded by Enemy Chatter in the first part of the Cairn installation, where the troopers remark on new blasters being shipped in, one of them saying "Yeah, that'd be nice, this thing hasn't been too accurate."
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Levels in the games are generally built in such a way that they're either a challenge to or insurmountable by your current power set but would be a breeze for what you'll have later - take for example the low amount of platforming early in Outcast and Academy that could be bypassed in an instant with level 3 Force Jump, compared to extremely long jumps you have to make when you do get that power later. Incidentally, since non-core powers are unlocked at a rate that the player decides rather than at a set rate in Academy, its levels aren't built with those powers in mind - allowing you to, say, totally break the Rancor encounter on Nar Kreeta just by using Mind Trick on it, or instantly kill the assassin droids on Coruscant with Lightning.
Jedi Mind Trick: A usable power in Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy.
Kyle: They always lock the door. You'd think they'd have learned by now. Doesn't look like there's a key. That would be too easy. The console to unlock the door is probably hidden in some room twelve floors up or something... how does that make sense?
Life Drain: Force Drain, if you're the player. For enemies, your force pool goes first, then your health.
Locked Door: Used often, and spoofed (as noted above) in Academy.
Necessary Drawback: Rage allows you to move quicker and deal more damage, but at the expense of draining health while active. Force Absorb & Protection allow you to block force powers and damage respectively, but you won't naturally regenerate any force energy until the effect ends.
Nerf: The progression of the concussion rifle from game to game is a study in gradual nerfing. It doesn't even make it into Outcast, although it returns (much improved) in Academy.
Force Rage temporarily grants immunity to death, though your health can still be reduced to 1.
Maxed out Force Protection allows you to shrug off a staggering 75% of all damage while it's active. Combine it with shields and/or Force Heal, and nothing will stand a chance against you. And with Force Absorb, you will be the bane of any force-wielder stupid enough to fight you.
No-Gear Level: The entire series, other than the first game, counts to one degree or another. Once you get your lightsaber, most players will spend the rest of the game using little else, other than the occasional sniper weapon or a grenade.
No OSHA Compliance: In addition to having some of the most Malevolent Architecture you'll ever see, architects throughout the galaxy were apparently very fond of leaving Exploding Barrels around, allowing open drops with no safety rails, leaving electrified conduits with no shielding, or failing to take the most basic steps to prevent you from hurling enemies into that vat of molten metal. Frankly, it's a wonder that the Imperials haven't lost their entire force to workplace accidents, given how difficult a powerful Jedi finds it to navigate at times.
Force Absorb allows you block offensive force powers in this way.
The hardest bosses can never be gripped, and will always block any attempt to throw your saber at them.
One-Man Army: Kyle Katarn. Notably, in the first game, before he gets any Force powers, he sneaks aboard the Executor (Darth Vader's personal flagship!) just so that he can take a shuttle from there to the Arc Hammer, where the Dark Troopers are being created. He then shoots his way through the entire ship (which is about half the size of the Executor, but still larger than a Star Destroyer), kills a dozen Dark Troopers (six of which were enough to take out an entire colony's defenses), destroys the most powerful Dark Trooper yet made, then destroys the Arc Hammer. While Vader, apparently unaware until now, watches from the bridge of the Executor. Then he got force powers!
Simultaneous Warning And Action: Played hilariously straight. Often, after an Imperial officer commands his troops to attack you, a stormtrooper will say something like "Let's see some ID!" and then open up on full-auto.
Skyscraper City: Nar Shaddaa, which is visited several times throughout the series. Coruscant also makes an appearance in Academy.
Unskilled, but Strong: Reborn and Shadowtroopers. Despite a complete lack of training with the Force, they're capable of holding their own against your average Jedi. Unfortunately for them, Kyle is notyour average Jedi.
Variable Mix: From Jedi Knight II and onward, whenever you get into combat in a level, the music changes to more action based music, straight from the Star Wars OST. There was also a special tid bit whenever your character ever died.