What is it about?
Star Wars: Dark Forces is an early 90’s Doom styled first person shooter set in the Pandora’s Box of the Star Wars universe. You play as Kyle Katarn, a mercenary who is working with the rebel alliance in combat against the Imperial Empire and its evil plans. The game is all about tight, action packed and rewarding gameplay that features an enjoyable arsenal of destruction, intriguing little puzzle elements and techie gadgets.
Why should I play it now?
Darth Vader makes a few imposing guest appearances. If that’s not reason enough, the game has ingenious level designs complemented well by the challenging foes and ruthless environments. The levels are so intricately detailed that the package makes the best efforts from the current generation look awry. Even with the range of weaponry you are presented with, you’d have to use every bit of it, scratch your head a lot, and frugally utilise your battery operated gadgets to complete a mission successfully. There’s no regenerating health, no mid-mission saves and Kyle can carry as many weapons as there are in the game. Handy. If you’re canny enough, you will be able to spot secrets which will unlock incentives such as Extra lives and Revives, the equivalents of gold dust. May the force be with you!!
How does it hold up today?
The visuals look pretty dated now, but considering that it’s a DOS game and the physics and level of detail that it offers, it runs brilliantly. Other than the visuals, almost every aspect of the game is either acceptable as per today’s standards or better. As I mentioned earlier, certain aspects like the level design would make you wonder if games these days have regressed from their forerunner’s stature.
Is it similar to anything else out there?
Well it certainly is not a dude bro shooter. What it is similar to is old school shooters like Doom and Quake, minus the use of vertical mouse movement for aiming. There are a couple of buttons that let you aim vertically, but I seldom used them. The guns auto aim mostly. But don’t let that fool you. The game can be quite a handful even with the assist. If you like old school shooters, this game is right up your alley.
What do I need to play this?
Any simple PC that’s capable of running Steam and has around 80 MB of free space in the hard drive. That’s not even near the size of the patches that get released for games these days. Thanks to Steam, the game ran smoothly on my Windows 7 based PC. But there were issues of texture corruption every time I minimised the game or switched to another window.
‘When I played through…’
A lot of head scratching, agony, frustration and an unremarkably delightful grin at the end of each stage. At the end of the day, that’s what gaming is all about for me. The game offers fourteen different stages. No two environments are the same and each has its own environmental factors kick in as well. It took me almost seventeen hours to beat the game on easy, not because of the enemies, but because of my growing dumb over the years while playing shooters featuring consistently less witty level designs. Hoorah!
Is there anything else I should be aware of (i.e. mods, crazy glitches, contribution to pop culture, Internet meme, etc)?
Just remember that when you’re stuck somewhere and jumping over to a ledge or a tunnel is the only way out, and if jumping doesn’t get you over, crouch first and then jump. That trick got me through at least a couple of times. Also, fun fact for all the Star Wars veterans out there: You must remember the beginning when Princess Leia perilously transfers the Death Star’s secret plans over to the Rebel Alliance. In one of the stages, you will infiltrate an Imperial edifice and steal the Death Star’s secret plans, which will then be handed over to Princess Leia. Is that cool or what?
Where do I get it?
Steam. The game is currently priced at 4.99$. If you’re patient enough, it might slip in very cheaply along with a bundle in the upcoming Summer Sale.
Let us know what you think of our Back Catalogue retrospective feature, or tell us which classic games you’d like to see featured in the future in the comments section below or in the corresponding discussion thread at the IVG community forums.