Most recently updated in July of last year, Jedi Academy Enhanced (opens in new tab) might just be my new go-to for nostalgic replays of the classic FPS-come-lightsaber duel simulator. The mod primarily adds new character customization options and quality of life additions, all while building on prior open source mod work for Jedi Academy. Some of the marquee additions include:
- Full RGB-style lightsaber color tweaking
- Custom character models
- Fully modular lightsaber hilts
- New weapon and lightsaber effects, including Darksaber (opens in new tab) and Kylo Ren's unstable lightsaber
- New NPC models and fixed HUD elements
For those not in the know, the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series developed from straight (if excellent) "Doom clone with a Star Wars skin" territory into some of the best lightsaber fighting games ever made, combining a classic FPS level design sensibility with a unique take on the physics of a lightsaber. These things feel like they could cut through anything in the Jedi Knight games, and combat is more positioning-focused than most 3D brawler/hack n' slash systems.
The final game in the series, Raven Software's Jedi Academy, makes for a perfect Jedi playground. It's just a brainpower-free Star Wars-shaped amusement park, complete with saberstaves and a rich assortment of Star Wars-y backdrops from Corellia to Korriban. Jedi Academy Enhanced comes in with new niceties to freshen up the experience, here helpfully outlined in the mod's version 1.1 trailer (opens in new tab).
The addition of fully modular lightsaber hilts is a real killer for me—the base game has you selecting from a collection of stock hilts, so the new mix-and-match goes a long way to fulfilling that sabercraft fantasy. Similarly, the mod introduces full RGB color control for your blades, letting you dial in that perfect color (Or just immediately opt for a Corran Horn/Ahsoka Tano silver).
I'd also be remiss if I failed to mention the mod's new, thoroughly yassified Luke Skywalker model, and it also offers new customization options for charisma void protagonist Jaden Korr. I don't care how pretty you make them, they'll still be the same old room temperature glass of water I have merely tolerated since 2003. Jedi Academy Enhanced builds on the prior work of the OpenJK engine modding team (opens in new tab), and you can try either project for yourself over on JKHub (opens in new tab). For further Jedi Academy modding fun, the Movie Duels (opens in new tab) team has recreated a bevy of classic Star Wars fights in Jedi Academy, while PC Gamer contributor Rick Lane wrote about the continued excellence of the Jedi Knight series' first entry (opens in new tab) back in 2021.