Star Wars: Dark Forces
Before I begin this little five-page opus into the merits and/or cons of this much-awaited space-age shoot 'em up. I need you our precious reader, to do something. Don't worry, it won't hurt. I simply need you to turn your minds back. To remember. To remember the first time you played Doom and the subsequent emotions that racked your body for hours afterwards. Do you remember the adrenaline that pumped through your veins? The nerves that stood momentarily on end every time you opened a new door? The beads of sweat that formed across your erudite brow after surviving a particularly vicious onslaught? These were primitive emotions, the very stuff of man. Doom was more than just a violent action game, it was a game that appealed to the very deepest reaches of our subconscious mind. A game that brought our prehistoric heritages directly to the fore. Man's deepest hidden desire is to kill - the very first tool we ever picked up was a weapon. Doom had no real pretensions at a plot, at a logical, thought-provoking challenge. It was simply kill or be killed and. as such, it captivated us.
Where I'm going with this is that every Doom-inspired game that has come since has failed to recreate these feelings and addictions simply because they constantly try to better the original by adding new features, more of a storyline, larger and more complex puzzle: to solve. And all the time they fail to recreate the true essence of Doom, the basic, simple need to turn living matter into its exact opposite. So. does Dark Forces manage to address our primitive desires? No. sadly it does not.
Enough psychology, already!
Right you are, on with reviewing it as a game. Despite not being able to capture the original "Holy shit, this is f***ing amazing!" feelings that Doom ushered into everyone's workday lives, it does hold up as a challenging, involving and atmospheric game. Just a game mind you. nothing more than that. Dark Forres doesn't look set to become a major way of life or anything, just a damned fine blast to be getting on with until the sequel appears (not that there's any news of a sequel - it's just a figure of speech).
You are a rebel agent, a sort of laser-toting James Bond, devoted to overthrowing the Empire and freeing the universe of its icy grip. This is accomplished (or as much as possible within the constraints of the larger Sltir Wars storyline) through a series of challenging missions, from obtaining the plans to the Death Star to freeing prisoners from Jabba and blowing up Imperial manufacturing plants. The ultimate aim - and this is hinted at throughout by different elements of each mission - is to seek out and destroy the Emperor's latest weapon, the Dark Trooper.
Oher small points worthy of note are the annoying size of the guns and their difficulty to aim, the apparent emptiness of some levels and the lack of movement options pioneered in System Shock (for which I would have thought it was d-e rigeur for every Doom-game creating team to rip off). You can jump and crouch/crawl in Dark Forres which isn't all bad, but I would really have loved to have had the total movement experience that Origin offered in System Shock. Being able to flatten yourself against a wall and cautiously peer around the corner would have actually made some of the later levels feel more Star Wars-like.
It would also have been nice if the bad guys had tried to be a little bit more than the mindless cannon fodder they've turned into. Having Stormtroopers ducking taking cover, trying to pin yoi down and the like, a basic bit of enemy AI as it were, would have put Dark forces way above the rest of the Doom games currently available. The ultimate test I was giving the game was to see if it could create something dose to the scene in Star Wars when Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie were trapped in that prison block. If a situation like that had produced itself anywhere, I would have been jumping onto the rooftops of a Chipping Norton housing estate and proclaiming Dark Forces as king. It didn't, so the residents of Abercrombie Terrace were able to sleep peacefully at nights. There is one "minor point" that stands head and shoulders abov the others, though. One feature that by its omission is causing howls of anguish in magazine offices everywhere. Read on...
Doom got 96
And Dark forces gets 95. Does that mean it's not as good? Sort of. It's as good as. It doesn't have that sense of total originality that Doom offered, but then nothing ever will again. That's why Doom scores slightly higher. You'll never be able to recreate those feelings of raw emotion. Other than that Dark Fotres is as good as. if not better than Doom, simply because that's what time does for a genre. Things will always progress and people will always produce slightly better product than before. Dark Forces is Doom with nicer graphics, more complex puzzles, a few neat extras and a storyline. With a multi-player option it might have got 97. But it doesn't, so it didn't. Live with it.
Download Star Wars: Dark Forces
Remember wanting desperately to be Han Solo? Sure, Luke was cool and everything, but Han had such a great attitude for being a scoundrel. What's better is that underneath all of that machismo was a really good-hearted guy. Plus, he flew the Kessell Run in 12 parsecs How much more of a man could he be?
If gamers agree, they'll surely get a kick out of playing the role of Kyle Katarn, the Han Solo-esque star of Dark Forces for the PlayStation.
Katarn had a hard life and like Solo he once worked for the Empire as a non-aligned mercenary. His parents were killed by the Empire and it's because of this that Katarn is now a valuable member of the alliance and a perfect character to star in a first-person shoot-'em-up in the Star Wars universe.
The game is broken up into 12 missions, each going along with the story line. Cutscenes using film footage break up the action. The game features hand-drawn and rendered backgrounds and characters straight from the trilogy--Jabba, Boba Fett and Darth all make appearances in this title in one form or another.
The story starts right before the Death Star plans are stolen. Is Katarn that thief? Either way the first mission of the game is to steal the plans from an Imperial base. After the plans are stolen and the Death Star is destroyed, the Empire makes another strike against the rebels. This time though the weapon is unknown. That's where Katarn comes in again. The gamer controls Kyle through a rebel base that has been practically reduced to ash. What weapon could have caused this much destruction? As the story progresses. more clues are given and players finally meet the Dark Trooper face-to-armored-face, which is never a good experience.
The game has 10 weapons including: the fist, a phase, a storm trooper assault rifle, land mines, thermal detonators, a light gun, a rocket launcher, a Dark Trooper gun and others. Each weapon (except for the fist) has a secondary function. This makes the weapon shot different-and usually more powerful-than the standard shot. For example, a mine layed normally will go off in five seconds. By laying a mine using the secondary button, the mine will not go off until triggered by an enemy. Check the Gamer's Edge for more info on secondary weapons.
As mentioned before, the game features characters that gamers will recall from the films. Bossk and Ree-Yees make many an appearance trying to stop your advance on the Imperials.
The levels have plenty of hidden areas to explore and special weapons to find. These weapons aren't necessarily new, but getting a rocket launcher in the first couple of levels could help in later ones!
To be dropped right smack-dab in the middle of the Star universe is something dreams are made of. To battle the Empire single-handedly is unbelievable but perfect for a die-hard SW fan. Finally gamers will be able to walk around the Star Wars universe as a rebel ally and once again stop the Empire from taking over.
- MANUFACTURER - LucasArts
- DIFFICULTY - MODERATE
- THEME - Action
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Dark Forces, a Doom-like shooting game that features a vast array of Star Wars enemies, is nearing completion on the PlayStation. Although the graphics were choppy in the version we played, the team at LucasArts is hard at work correcting all the visuals.
Gameplay & Fun Factor !
Dark Forces beats Alien Trilogy for best-licensed Doom-clone on a console system. It's more satisfying to plow through Stormtroopers than Aliens. Everyone who enjoys a good shodter should use this Force.
Although slow in the preview version. the frame rate is being adjusted and maximized for speed. Another potential problem could be with the buttons--the six on the PlayStation controller must handle the many functions available for the PC version, which are executed prP marily through a keyboard.
LucasArts plans to improve Dark Forces' pixelated graphics. Still, as they now appear, the game's graphics are close in quality to Doom for the PlayStation. The inclusion of Stormtroopers. Gamorrean guards, and other Empire lackeys made the graphics impressive.
With the re-release of the Star Wars Trilogy -- and the anticipation of the upcoming three new Star Wars flicks -- LucasArts has timed the release of Dark Forces perfectly. Everyone is starting to get back into the Star Wars universe again and, whether it is movies, books, or video games, LucasArts hopes Dark Forces follows the reborn popularity.
In Dark Forces, you play Kyle Katarn, rather than one of the movie characters we all know so well. As Katarn, you are a freelance special agent that has worked for Empire in the past, but now has a chip on his shoulder against them. To make the long story short, Katarn once helped Jan Ors, a decorated military officer for the Rebellion, escape from an Imperial prison. One thing led to another and Ors has contracted Katarn for special undercover operations. Katarn is transported to a number of different planets and installments, each with a different mission to accomplish, but all with the same objective: to stay alive.
Dark Forces is another of a growing list of first-person shooters on the Playstation. There is definitely no shortage of this genre any longer. I have said in my previous reviews of games of this type, you must bring something new or different to the party to be successful. This arena is too crowded to release the same old crap. Well, Dark Forces has one major thing going for it: players get the opportunity to enter the Star Wars universe. All of the other first-person shooter games try to create a story that will pull you in and get you excited about playing. Dark Forces doesn't have to do this because the movies have already told the story. You already know who Darth Vader is and you know what a Stormtrooper is. Even though Dark Forces is not anything new, it works well because it is Star Wars.
Anyone that keeps up with the Star Wars gang knows that there is no such thing as sitting by the beach, sipping a lunar margarita. They are always getting mixed up in some galaxy-saving adventure and Dark Forces is no different. The game is level-based and each level has a different mission or objective. One thing all the levels have in common is you're up against a seemingly endless supply of Stormtroopers with the intelligence level of a sixth grader. Just like the movies, you can blast away at the Stormtroopers, killing groups at a time, but they will only get in one or two good shots. Don't get me wrong -- the game is by no means a cakewalk. There are enough enemies and challenges to make the game difficult. But the Stormtroopers just aren't very bright. For example, I snuck around a corner to find a Stormtrooper with his back to me. After blasting him, his partner, who wasn't more than 10 feet away, did not even look up. Needless to say, he didn't last very long either.
One of the coolest parts of the game are the weapons you use. I don't know about you, but I always thought it would be cool to use a blaster. I just loved the sound they made when they were fired. The developers did an outstanding job replicating the sound of the blaster. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought it was straight out of the movie. Like most first-person shooters, a big part of your survival is finding new and more powerful weapons. Dark Forces has plenty of opportunity for weapons upgrades. The first weapon you encounter is a Stormtrooper laser rifle and I found it to be the most reliable. No matter which weapon I would try, I always went back to this one. The only exception was the thermal detonators -- basically futuristic hand grenades. I found that lobbing one of these little babies into the middle of a group of unsuspecting enemies cleared the area quite nicely.
Now it is time for a necessary evil. I have to talk about something that nobody likes to hear about but must face: I found a HUGE bug in the game. First, let me set the scene. I had just been battling in one particular level for nearly two hours and was getting quite frustrated. The level was not really difficult, just long, and I kept dying from stupid mistakes. So after two hours, I completed my mission and I then had to find my way out to the designated pick-up point. Finally, I got out of the maze and into some familiar territory. I was celebrating that I had finally made it and was only one or two minutes away from completing the level. Then it happened. I stepped down a step and the game freaked out. The top part of the screen went completely black but the bottom part still showed the ground. Okay, no problem. I can still see the step that I was trying to go down, so I walk up to it and... blackness. I turn a little and have a perfect shot of where I need to go, but the game won't let me. After about ha lf an hour trying to get out, I decided that the game was really screwed up and had no choice but to quit. But wait! It suddenly occurred to me that if I ever found myself too close to a thermal detonator when it went off, it would injure me. I still had a continue left, so I decided to kill myself and see if it fixed it when it reloaded. Well, to make a long story short, I was now invincible. Why did I tell you all of this? Because I really look down on games that make you work your butt off and then you can't finish through no fault of your own.
Dark Forces has graphics that rival the better games in the first-person genre. They are a good mix of outdoor areas and inside corridors. The Stormtroopers are very real-looking and I found myself getting pulled into the action. There were some of the old rough edges and pixelization when you got too close to an object but, as I have said before, this is typical for this type of game.
Normally, I don't talk about the audio in a game unless it is really good or really bad. In the case of Dark Forces, it is really good. As far as background music goes, it sounds almost as if you are watching an actual Star Wars movie. What really stood out were the sound effects. The laser shots and explosions were great. Also, when the Stormtroopers talked, they had that same talking-through-a-mask voice that they had in the movies. This added tremendously to the game.
If you are a fan of the Star Wars series, you will have a good time with this game. If not, you may still enjoy it but not any more than any other first-person game on the market. Outstanding audio really pulled me into the game, but the "bug" also pushed me away. All in all, this is a decent game that could have been better, but could have been a lot worse.
Snapshots and Media
- Star Wars: Clone Wars
- Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
- Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
- Star Wars Masters Of Teras Kasi
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
- Star Control 3
- Star Wars: Battlefront
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- X-Com: Alliance
- X-COM: Interceptor
- Bang! Gunship Elite
- Frontier: First Encounters
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Dominion Wars
- Star Trek: Starfleet Command Volume II - Empires at War
- Star Wars: X-Wing
- X: Beyond the Frontier
- X-COM 3: Apocalypse
- X-Com Ufo Defense