First released in 2009, the absolutely massive Jedi Academy mod Movie Duels (opens in new tab) dropped its sixth major update at the beginning of January. The project aims to recreate iconic lightsaber duels from throughout Star Wars history with Jedi Academy's peerless lightsaber combat system.
The Jedi Knight games have some weird DNA that led to their excellent saber combat. The series came from FPS devs, first at LucasArts, then Raven, and approaches saber combat differently from most brawler-style takes, with a starting point closer to classic FPS melee weapons like Gordon Freeman's crowbar or the Doomguy's chainsaw.
Instead of a weighty sword and sticky lock-on feel, the Jedi Knight games are almost more about pure positioning, with your saber just ruining whatever it comes in contact with. Add in the games' intuitive, automatic parrying, and you've got a lightsaber fighting system that just feels like nothing else—except maybe the upcoming Fortune's Run (opens in new tab).
I didn't even realize there was anyone making single player Jedi Academy mods like this, and at first glance parsed Movie Duels as a simple map and model pack. I dusted off my Steam version of Jedi Academy, downloaded the whopping three-file, eight gigabyte mod, and dropped everything in the Game Data folder of my Jedi Academy install (the mod handily runs off its own .exe in there).
And quite frankly? This thing rocks. The first map I loaded into was a recreation of the Star Forge observation deck, the final boss arena from Knights of the Old Republic. There's nothing to do here at the moment, but it will likely feature in an upcoming KotOR-themed duel pack hinted at in the mod's UI.
My first proper duel was a recreation of the edgy, rad, and supremely non canon Obi Wan Kenobi/Darth Maul rematch on Tatooine depicted in the comic Old Wounds (opens in new tab). Jedi Academy's combat is as fun as ever, and the modders added some spice here by having Maul's arm get cut off in a scripted sequence halfway through, mirroring the events of the comic. Don't worry though, I still got that doofy hall monitor Obi Wan in the end.
For a final test run, I loaded into Mace Windu vs. Palpatine from Revenge of the Sith as the purple team. This one was a bit jankier, with an unskippable cutscene preceeding and what seems like a massive health bar on old Sheev P. I accidentally killed Kit Fisto before getting my melon chopped off by the spritely old man. Maybe I'll try again another day.
I've definitely only scratched the surface here—there's all this movie content and some fights from The Force Unleashed, as well as newly-added remastered duels from 1997's Dark Forces: Jedi Knight. I've also neglected to mention the most exciting inclusion: Movie Duels has scooped EA by three months, letting you play as buff, "Punished" Cal Kestis from the upcoming Jedi Survivor. You heard right Cal Kestis heads, everyone's favorite Star Wars protagonist is here!
My man even gives Jaden Korr (opens in new tab) a run for his money in the charisma department, and the two legends can finally chop each other's heads off in the same game. You can check out Movie Duels on ModDB (opens in new tab), and be sure to keep an eye out for future content additions and bug fixes.