After teasing the project for months, self-described “ray tracing addict” Zyanide is finally ready to share his work adding the computationally intensive lighting technology to 2002’s Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. And gosh, it’s as impressive as the game’s title is awkward.
While ray tracing brings obvious aesthetic benefits to Jedi Outcast’s lightsaber-heavy combat, this is a fully fledged, real-time implementation that improves just about everything having to do with lighting in this old-school Star Wars game. I mean, just look at the reflections on the water and the way the in-game sun interacts with environments to create distinct pockets of light and shadow:
“I’ve always considered ray tracing the pinnacle of graphics, and now that it can be done in real time, I wanted to learn all about this new tech,” Zyanide wrote on his website. “Some months prior to the release of RTX cards, I found out that Jedi Outcast’s code had been open sourced, and since I like the game, I decided to combine both things.”
Despite its age, Jedi Outcast might now be the first Star Wars game to (unofficially) use ray tracing. Last year’s Star Wars Squadrons, while beautiful on previous-generation consoles and further bolstered by the power of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, focused more on providing smooth, high-resolution gameplay rather than implementing advanced lighting technology.
But Zyanide’s task is far from complete. He explained that there’s still work to be done ironing out bugs and adding Jedi Outcast’s dynamic textures to the mix, which includes getting them converted to physically based rendering materials that better mimic how light behaves in the real world. It’s definitely a big project, but the fruits of his labor are already pretty damn amazing.