Rogue One is out and it was awesome! But despite the story Disney told us about how the Death Star plans were stolen, the hero who accomplished that feat to me will always be Kyle Katarn. Star Wars: Dark Forces is a first-person shooter that came out back in February 28, 1995 for DOS and Macintosh computers. Despite its age, is this classic shooter still worth a playthrough?
Kyle Katarn grew up wanting to be an agricultural equipment salesman like his father. Joining the Imperial Academy to further his goals Kyle proved to be adept at using cybernetic systems. After receiving news of his parent’s death at the hands of Rebels, Kyle joined the Imperial Army in the special operations division. A couple years later Kyle met Jan Ors, a Rebel undercover in the Imperial Army. Through their friendship, Kyle learned that it was really the Empire that was responsible for his parent’s death. Jan’s cover ended up being blown and she was captured by the Empire. Kyle helped Jan escape, severing his ties to the Empire and became a freelance mercenary. Star Wars: Dark Forces chronicles Kyle Katarn’s journey from stealing the Death Star plans to bringing down the Empire’s Dark Trooper Project.
Like most shooters of the time Star Wars: Dark Forces takes its gameplay inspiration from Doom (1993). Players must navigate through fourteen levels to find keys, objectives, and the level exits all while fighting through enemies and finding secrets. Dark Forces includes many new features to this formula like the ability to jump and look up and down. Unfortunately look up and down are locked to the page up and down keys which makes it hard to utilize. Level design also got significantly more in-depth with the inclusion of multi-leveled maps and puzzles that need to be solved to progress further into the game. Dark Forces also includes no multiplayer options of any kind.
Dark Forces is a mixed bag when it comes to audio. Sound effects sound good and voice work is solid but music does not get the same treatment. Tracks are inspired from the movies but are of poor midi quality. Compared to the rest of the audio work the music just sounds out of place.
Like audio the graphics in Dark Forces are also a mixed bag. 3D environments are immersive and weapon sprites on your HUD look great but textures are low res, pixelated and repetitive. Because of this I would sometimes miss paths I had to take to finish a mission. Some newer features that Dark Forces included graphically were the inclusion of environmental effects such as haze and 3D effects during a mission. The very first mission has a rotating Death Star display and mission five includes a red haze. Being able to see your ship drop you off and pick you up in most levels was also a fantastic touch.
Despite showing its age Star Wars: Dark Forces is easily one of the best Star Wars games to this day. If you are a fan of shooters or Star Wars do yourself a favor and pickup Dark Forces. With loads of secrets to find, fun levels and multiple difficulties Dark Forces will keep you occupied for hours.