This is going to be long.
I will do my best to not only share my personal opinion, but also the opinions that support / deny my opinion. I'm not forming this post to gripe about anything at all, or attempt to remove credit from where it is due in any way. I am going to cover the gameplay of JK2/JKA and point out strengths as well as weaknesses, not to form a review - but to hopefully convey understanding as to what the LA Petition was started for.
I may appear to digress or rant to some degree, but please bare with me, the closing of my post will tie together everything that I mention.
I bought Jedi Outcast for the SP experience, because up until that time, my personal fav MP experience was on the original Unreal Tournament. I didn't personally expect much from the MP experience in JO because (not just being based on Q3A) of the expected limitations regarding the storyline, and how this would trickle down to MP. I was an avid fan of the original Dark Forces game, and DF2, the original Jedi Knight. After plunking around in MP in JO I remembered the character selection screeen in DF2:JK...
it included the Mandalorian, and various other characters NOT in the storyline of JK. JK2 only had models/characters present in the storyline. This ushers in the topic of homegrown mods/models/skins/etc, but let's not digress from the subject at hand.
The point is simple : JK2 MP was JK2 ONLY... not Star Wars. JA did a much better job of attempting to incorperate your staple components of SW such as Vader's palace on Korriban (if you can't have Vader, you gotta improvise - good move).
Granted, I appreciate the Kyle character far better than even Luke, but in MP - you are sharing the world of this game with thousands of people at any given time - you are NOT reenacting scenes from the SP experience. These thousands of people (until homegrown modding boomed) signified their individualism by changing the colors of their names, because every other opponent they came across shared the same skin that they did (there were maybe a max of 5 skins that were cool to every1)... I never saw so many clans form in such a short amount of time, and watched the modding community really band together to pull something very STAR WARS from the whole mess JK2 was in the beginning. Point : Fans were forced to a degree to appease themselves.
---A side note---
Before I continue, a valid point to not only SW games, but SW in general... what is the single most crucial component of a Star Wars title, be it a movie, a book, or a video game? You can take a flight sim, reskin/render new models and call them CORTs, XWings, and Ties, and make a few fresh maps and call it "Star Wars"... but is it really? You can take a few models from UT and call them "Jedi," but are they? The answer is simple : NO. Would any of George Lucas's SW movies be as elegant and just cool as **** without the light saber - honestly?
SW ships / characters are unique to a degree, but parallel many independent epic stories. However, those independent epics don't include lightsabers. Jedi (at the risk of committing blasphome to hardcore SW fans) are just equal opportunity Bene Gesserit a'la DUNE (Dune was PUBLISHED in the 60's for those in denial - and btw the vader/luke struggle was also patterned after the Barron Harkonnen and the Atreides offspring, also the sand worm and the sarlakk pit, spice mining, the messiah being raised on a desert planet, the essence of self-control and elegant combat in a sci-fi realm - mmmhmm all in DUNE first). The Dune remarks aren't offered to offend fans or deface SW, just to illustrate one major difference between the 2 - yep, the flashy burny stick.
----back to MP gaming---
LucasArts / Raven DID listen to the fans. Patches adjusted the MP experience (primarily in duel) to fit the needs and overall funfactor for the MP community as a whole. Despite the initial disgust at v1.04 of JO MP, it was a very stable and elegant system that achieved the greatest hopes of those who stuck with JK2 since its release, growth, and evolution.
The one component of Jedi Outcast MP that separated it from all other MP FPS games was the lightsaber, specifically Duel. Force is an essence of Star Wars, but in a gamer's world, force is nothing but a power up - an extra option - a rose that would still smell as sweet if it was called "adrenaline"(UT2k3) .
The major difference between JK2 MP/SP : SPEED.
JK2 SP was a scripted form of entertainment, regardless of your freedom... in order to progress you had to adhere to "mission objectives," and be limited by the openness or intentional lack thereof in the scripts of each level. As such, there are multiple ups/downs in balls to the wall action, that were fairly evenly matched with attempts at making the game a little more cerebral, and have good ole Kyle solve a few problems. As most games progress, there's your standard issue power ups before and after a major incursion... and with the natural predictability of certain aspects, you have a moment or 2 to go braindead... so what do game developers do (as they should)? They bless Kyle with newfound acrobatic skills a'la Darth Maul and young ObiWan... these moves like the yellow-stanced DFA and focused deaths were bullet-timed for a moment longer than MP to give you something to gawk at... but as most things that end up becoming repetitive... the extra time for the animation becomes a feeling of hinderence... perhaps for some an excuse for getting stomped by those 5 Reborn while the game made you watch Kyle twirl like a ballerina.
JK2 MP was unscripted, live, fast, and unpredictable... at times utter chaos, at others a cerebral challenge with equally witted and talented opponents. The extra animations of SP were slimmed down dramatically, not just for frames, or laggers, but because speed is the name of the game when you're acting against someone who won't think the same as you. Any multiplayer experience is more random and chaotic than a scripted sequence of events being played out all by the same AI. When dueling against an obviously skilled and disciplined thinker, one could liken the combat and challenge to that of a game of chess. For every move you make, you may own the match from the start, or inevitably suffer the consequences of a careless maneuver. The combat system was tuned enough in 1.04 to really leave it to the player, not his/her linespeed or system spec. I personally witnessed several skilled competitors rule my own server, and destroy me even with my connection advantage because of their patience, and adaptation, as my skills were somewhat plateaued by smugness and understanding of exploiting the errors that people may make... but other opponents that also understood those implications, who showed far greater patience and determination inevitably won, regardless of their pings, or their score on the leaderboard. A saying I once heard in a server was that "the best man wins the duel, the luckiest of the best men wins the match." The one opponent who could identify and exploit the leader with 9 out of 10 may or may or may not actually ever get to fight him, and his opportunity to shine might never come.
I personally bought JKA in the hopes that it would take the foundation that was laid by JK2, and expand on it. Extra weapons, extra moves, yippee... what good are these weapons and moves if they're not tuned? Unfortunately, where JK2 MP was tuned for speed and user self-dependence... JKA MP Combat is not. In attempts to reduce the clipping and collision errors, they maintained the "slow and steady" pace of SP. The speed of execution of moves is paced the same as SP, and this keeps the seemingly stronger new weapons under a certain control, but can anyone admit that fighting with the single saber in JKA is even remotely comparable to fighting with SS in JK2 MP? The yellow DFA in JKA is numbed, making it executable without targeting the enemy, which is suicide for the player who may accidentally execute it, and just something else that unrefined players constantly repeat in hopes of a lucky strike. The katas and new secondary attacks of the multi-saberists are welcome additions to the dueling aspect, but are unfortunately dumbed down for the sake of what? Some opinions state that its to control the potential for getting lost, or some players taking the speed increase that JK2 MP had and using it as another excuse not to refine their fight, and just hack away - a very good and valid point. But do half of the saberists online not do that anyway? Especially in JKA MP, where on any given server you have at least one person trying to figure out how to coordinate themselves with the new saber / kata additions?
JK2 by its end had a refined combat system. It forced its players to refine their technique, which enriched the enjoyment of veterans and inspired newcomers to refine their skill and fight with such elegant prowess as the vets... is that not what Jedi are - elegantly powerful? Not unlike the game of chess, an elegant battle of the most powerful tool of humanity - its own mind.
Most gamers of JK2/JKA SP (and even a few in MP) found that the best weapon to use throughout most of the game was the lightsaber... why? Because its automated blocks for blasters coupled with a splash of force push pretty much rendered any kind of attack imposed useless unless it was an attack via lightsaber... Since they added an acrobatic touch in JK2, and dove much deeper into the acrobatics of Phantom Menace in JKA, why not have the saber blocks the same too? Of course this would make the games a bit more difficult, but there were many instances where ObiWan swung at energy bolts with his saber like he was batting for a homerun... Defensively, according to skill level, the light saber acted as just another shield... and Raven knew it, why else would your shield max out @ 50 instead of 100 unless you got a super boost? Logically, to try and balance the added difficulty, why not let you have some freedom with your defense, and amp the shield output a little bit? And if some players aren't able to grasp the basics of such a defense, wouldn't that be what you have a "padawan" skill level for? Let it be automated in that case. Even with heavy repeating weapons, or attacks from multiple sides, why not be able to hold the saber in a defensive stance like a "bunting" stance where you could control the angle and incline of the saber, but not swing at it? Understandably, a "defend" key would be another key to add to the maelstrom, but for most folks using a 3 button wheelmouse, you have primary attack, secondary, most scroll the wheel to change weapons, and the 3rd button (the wheel), is perhaps a "use" key, or bow, or taunt, or something that wouldn't suffer terribly from being transferred to one out of over 100 convenient keys on the keyboard.
As far as taunt goes, if i have time to be an ***hole I have time to properly defend myself.
And where's a useful administration scheme and server hosting kit that comes with the game? I personally (as alot are also - and others could care less) am sick and tired of getting games without adequate hosting solutions included. Why not have a "server generator" utility like the homegrown "jedi runner" app made by the guys @ gamerunners.com? Why do I have to go around my posterior to get to my elbow just to set up a customized and fully functional server that I CAN ADMIN AS I SEE FIT?
Galaxies is a StarWars equivalent of Ultima, and you pay to essentially role-play, the same as Ultima... there's really no "I'd like to ram my saber through a guy's chest for fifteen minutes" option.
People have mentioned BattleFront, and I'm sure it will be a good title. However, there is a designated type of play that its catering to, which is your MOHAA, and CS style of gameplay. Unless LA pulls a rabbit out of their hind quarters to make it much more than a good run of team deathmatch or seige, I'll stick to the professionals... Anyone gamer and fan of SW would love to be in the great battles of the movies, but how limited will they be because of that very fact - that they're totally reliant on the scriptage and "mission perameters" of the specific battle at hand?
I don't recall many SnowTroopers carrying sabers and weilding the force. I don't recall any Jedi carrying around a concussion rifle on their backs...
For the proposed MP title: team based - why not have the legions of Xizor (for non-movie SW story lovers) vs the Empire? Why not the outer rim gangsters warring with each other? There ARE Rebel footsoldiers, where have they been in ANY Star Wars game?
As for space battles - the hugest battles of the original trilogy... how true can BattleFront honestly be to those (if at all) if its to be a ground-assault type of FPS?
Unfortunately, early word on BattleFront doesn't convey any such type of opportunity... hopefully this will change.
A huge amount of respect I have for the vehicle implementing modding public out there. THEY made a semi-flight sim out of JA... THEY made a racing game out of JA... it goes to prove the kind of very cool and very expandable resources LucasArts could have tapped in producing JA. Perhaps letting a singleplayer experience take a break on another title and letting MP flourish is precisely what it would take to break the mold of most FPS in general, and tip the balance of that "people that buy games for SP over MP" demographic.
For those non-movie story lovers, this is a perfect opportunity to answer any kinds of what ifs, without waiting for George Lucas to make a movie about it. A sort of choose your own adventure in MP land.
To some up the point of this post: A scripted SP game is great, and deserves all the credit due for that particular type of gameplay. A random and non-linear MP game is great, when you have all the essentials to making it great. Those essentials don't necessarily rely on scripts but more on diversity, accomodating the individuals who work independently or as a team to make the magic of the actual MP experience.
StarWars is a virtually endless abyss of creative and enjoyable content. The key in to unlock the door is the lightsaber. Behind the door is the realm of Star Wars as a whole... not just JK2 or JKA.
Who cares if I want a 65 yr old Ben Kenobi to fight "Jabba's Slave" Princess Leia in a duel? If I play as an Imperial officer against a Rodian in JK2/JKA, is it really that different?
When it boils down to it, the fans decide on whether or not a game is going to be fun, with the undying world of modding, and self expression in the world, the fans WILL have fun... a simple request to LucasArts is in order just to play THEIR parts and not make it so hard on us. I gladly pay, I'd gladly like to open a game I just dropped 50 bucks on and not have to wait to enjoy it because my comrades and I have to coordinate our efforts over weeks and months to make it useful.