8.4

Where it all began for Kyle Katarn.

Star Wars: Dark Forces came out during the era in video games where first person shooters were just mindless romps through random levels loosely connected by what the developers called a "plot". When Dark Forces came out it was criticised as being a Doom clone, but Dark Forces was more than that, and it helped improve the FPS genre as a whole.

In Dark Forces you assume the role of a mercenary, and Rebel Agent Kyle Katarn as he prepares to steal the plans for the dreaded Death Star at an Imperial base on the planet of Danuta. After this the story skips ahead to some time after the Death Star's destruction when a Clone Wars veteran General Rom Mohc is presenting his Dark Trooper project to Darth Vader. After the Dark Troopers decimate a city and Rebel base on Talay Mon Mothma calls upon Kyle Katarn in hope that he will help the Alliance shut down the project. Kyle agrees, and along with his trusted mission officer Jan Ors he begins to learn more about the project, and shut down its production facilities one by one.

Dark Forces plays like most first person shooters. You use weapons, and you kill any hostiles that stand in your way. Dark Forces brought some interesting ideas to the table, however; the first being mission objectives. Dark Forces requires you to perform certain objectives during every mission to succeed, it may be stealing an object, or planting charges and destroying a production facility. Dark Forces also allows you to look up and down rather than simply straight ahead like the rest of the FPS games of that period. You may also jump and crouch; which are widely used features in modern shooters.

The graphics in Dark Forces are obviously outdated. Enemies are 2D sprites, and despite the environments being fully 3D the textures have hardly any detail on them. Fans of modern shooters will most likely be turned off by the less than impressive graphics, and that is understandable.

The sound is excellent. You'll hear traditional Star Wars sound effects throughout the game, and stormtroopers will shout out "Stop, Rebel scum!" when they see you. The voice acting is also surprisingly good considering that the game came out in a time when voice acting in video games was the last thing that developers and publishers worried about. Finally there's the music which is mostly an original score in MIDI format that occasionally includes some classic themes from the original Star Wars trilogy such as the Imperial March.

Dark Forces is a classic shooter in every respect. It was one of the first story based shooters, and helped introduced several features to the shooter genre that are commonly used today. Star Wars fans will love it, and even general FPS fans will enjoy it if they can get past the extremely dated graphics.

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