(Shutup, everyone knows the goddamn history already!)
Alright, alright... Anyways-- LucasArts released Star Wars Dark Forces, their own entry into the First-Person Shooter race. While initially said to be a simple if not worthless Doom-clone to non Star Wars buffs, and even longer believed to run on the Doom engine, Dark Forces is a lot more under the surface. With all these Doom-clones coming out, very few tried to focus much on a story, simply going for art-direction, action, music, levels, etc... Dark Forces though brought something new to the table (Alongside Marathon, I don't remember what game came first though), and that was a concise story. Before each level there is an intermission screen telling the story of the game and what you'll be doing in the next level. Sometimes there was an actual Cutscene to watch that also furthered the story and made up the characters, both the good guys and the bad guys. The story centers around a mercenary and ex-imperial named Kyle Katarn and his partner Jan Ors as they try to uncover information about an Imperial weapons project known as the Dark Trooper, something being headed by Imperial General and Clone Wars veteran Rom Mohc. Characters form the Star Wars films also appear including Mon Mothma, Crix Nadine, and most importantly, Darth Vader. Busts and images of the Emperor can also be seen, though unlike Wolfenstein 3D where images of Hitler were everywhere, you don't fight a Robo-Palpatine at the end of this game, regardless of how cool that may sound. Jabba the Hutt though also makes an appearance (Preceding a Level with a rather ridiculous but amusing boss fight, not with Jabba mind you, but against his pet Kell Dragon, while you the player are armed with nothing but your fists. Challenging much, eh?).
Gameplay is basic Doom style, though rather than mowing down enemies to rush on to the exit button like most games form this era, even you found the end of a level, it wouldn't end unless you finished actual set mission objectives. These can range to anywhere from finding Jan Ors to stealing detonating a generator and then finding your way back to your parked ship. These objectives are set on a number of different locations, each level somewhere new, letting you fight through numerous locales, including old favorites like Couracant and a Star Destroyer to fighting in new locations to the Star Wars universe such as Nar Shaddaa (Which would later appear in Dark Forces II and Jedi Outcast, both games form the same series here) and Mohc's warship, the Arc Hammer, which also serves as the final level in the game and also serving as the production facility of Dark Troopers. A number of enemies stand in your way, including Stormtroopers, Probe Droids, and plenty of bounty hunters out to take you in for Imperial Cash. Each different kind of enemy is somewhat unique is their arsenal, though they all attack kind of the same way, i.e. Shoot at you, walk around, shoot at you, walk around (This walking around also being at the same time them gradually making their way to you), though Jabba's Pig guards and the two types of Darkies and Dianoga have somewhat different styles. The pigs and Phase 1 Darkies run zig-zag at you making them hard to hit, and with high health and speed they can get on you pretty quick, not to mention those pigs like to work together, and they do some hard damage for sure. Dianoga can only attack in the water, Kell Dragons will avoid you sometimes, sometimes attack you, and will often leap at you. The other enemies, while all having the same strategies, though seem to only be varied in their attacks and health. Stormtroopers are slow and easy to kill, and they don't have very good aim, and drop blaster rifles. Imperial Commandos are the same, except a bit easier to kill and more accurate. Imperial Officers don't drop a weapon like the other two, only ammo, but they die from one hit from nearly any weapon, and have the aim of God sometimes. Trandoshans (Bossk aliens) are armed with weapons called Concussion rifles. Unlike projectile weapons, these aren't very easy to dodge, and do a lot of damage. Three-Eyed Grans throw grenades.
Now don't feel dismayed by the firepower these baddies carry, you have plenty of weapons yourself, ranging from your little semi-auto pistol with it's extreme accuracy to your big bad stolen Dark Trooper Plasma Gun (Which in truth acts a bit like the plasma gun from Doom, minus the rocket launcher this one has), and plenty of other guns in between, a few the enemies can't have, like Fusion Cutters, Mortar Launchers, and more. Another neat thing about most of the weapons (Most meaning not the pistol, blaster rifle, mortar launcher, or fists), is that they all have two modes of firing. The I.M. mine for example can be lied down to explode in a few seconds, or be activated upon an unsuspecting enemy who walks over it. The Jeron Fusion Cutter can fire it's four barrels alternatively or fire all four barrels at once like a shotgun (This gun I'm guessing is the precursors to the Bowcaster that appears in later games).
Now comes some of the actual game itself. For the time, these graphics weren't bad. The animated cutscenes looked great, and better yet, sounded great with the full voice acting and other sound effects. Vader doesn't sound a ton like Vader minus the inhaling electric voice, but Mon Mothma sounds about right, as well does Jabba. Gunplay is fast and furious, and totally exciting. Characters animated like guys from Doom and other games, but looked pretty good, and sprites didn't generally fuzz up when enemies got too close too you, not always anyways. The Kell Dragon seemed to be of somewhat poor quality, especially up close, which is quite disappointing as being it such a large set of sprites, you think they would've gone to make it look a lot better because of the size of it. And while true it's a boss probably, on harder difficulty levels there are more than one, and so now you have a few ugly looking monsters roaming around Jabba's ship prowling for your flesh. The game also makes use of 3D models, and ships encountered in-game are rendered to be 3D, including Kyle's ship, the Moldy Crow. Another note is the destructible environment. Several levels contain items that can be destroyed, and not just like barrels in Doom. A number of lights can be shot out, and interestingly, they actually darken the area when shot.
Some other negative to point out though are that some of the levels don't seem to have the quality of others. Some levels are a blast to go through, and very fun to play. Others are tedious, too hard, or just very bland and too easy. One of the hardest levels I've played happens to be the third level in the game, and yet there are a couple levels afterwards that or so easy too play! This odd spike and drop in difficulty kinda feels odd. Also, bosses in the game are all rather bad. The Kell Dragon one is ridiculous that you have to kill it with your fists (Also note this fight is at the beginning of the level, rather than the end). The other two (Or Three, depending on how you want to look at the boss on Anteevy, though that boss isn't bad) aren't very challenging, or formidable. In fact, the fights leading up to the final boss are more challenging than the final boss itself. They're rather lackluster, and just not that great. Also, the game does not have a save system, and is the first FPS I know of that had a checkpoint system. Well actually, it was a checkpoint system, and a life system. And even then it was more of a lives thing, like Wolf 3D. When you die, you use up a life, and go back a little before you died. Everything you killed is still dead, so there is that, and it sets you back at a checkpoint. Power Slave kinda did something like this, though in that game you had to find the checkpoints yourself. Without a save system, things can be frustrating, especially on the harder levels. I've had to go through the last levels many many times by dying near the end of the level, and using up all my lives (Not on the boss fight, no, on the fight before the boss fight. The bossfight was child's play compared to the fight before it. What I get for playing on Hard I guess). Another note is the lack of Multiplayer. Outlaws had multiplayer. Doom had multiplayer. Why didn't Dark Forces have it? Justin Chin, the guy who made this game, felt it wasn't necessarily, saying people may skip it or something instead playing the singleplayer, which probably far from the truth.
But anyways, to wrap this up finally, Dark Forces manages to deliver a thrilling FPS adventure into the Star Wars universe, plagued only by a few things. Dark Forces II is the better game by far, but don't pass this gem up either. It really doesn't tie into any other game form the series, and really you can skip it entirely for DF2 and get the story form there on. But don't skip this one if you can, it's a fun romp through the Star Wars universe as you play as the Star Wars version of rambo.
Star Wars Dark Forces - 8/10