morecowbell24's Star Wars: Dark Forces (PC) review

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A Doom Clone Attacked with Star Wars Authenticity

Since its release in 1993, id Software’s Doom has spawned many imitators. While Star Wars: Dark Forces is another one, it brings just enough more to the table to keep the genre moving forward. It would probably be overlooked if not for its use of the Star Wars license, yet it does the universe justice, telling a fun sideline story that takes plenty of intriguing turns.

You are put in the shoes of Kyle Katarn, a roguish mercenary hired by the Rebel Alliance to work against the Imperial Empire. The first few missions will take you on a brief fan service tour before you eventually uncover the secret Dark Trooper project, a super soldier addendum to the Empire’s current Storm Trooper program. Upon this discovery it’s left to you to make sure the program never sees the light of day.

Mechanically, Dark Forces isn’t all that distinguished from other first-person shooters, but it succeeds in capturing that Doom-like flow and momentum. It also doesn’t hurt that it is bolstered by its smart use of the Star Wars license, telling a fun and intriguing story, then following through with mission briefings and objectives a bit more involving than simply finding a color coded key. The midi cuts based around John Williams’ iconic scores are also great supplements to the action, and adding to the authenticity are all the classic Star Wars sounds, from blaster fire to Darth Vader aspirating.

Like many shooters of its ilk, Dark Forces does suffer from its labyrinthian level design, hiding key items and vital pathways in random or obscured corners. It’s not quite as gross an offender as some, but it’s still a shame this problem is so persistent in these sorts of shooting galleries. The individual levels are at least pretty distinct visually, as you’ll travel to ice and desert planets, blast through sewers and docking ports, and scavenge starships and space stations. Some even twist the action by altering visibility with fog or darkness.

The arsenal of weapons you’ll get to play around with in these arenas unfortunately leaves something to be desired. There are a couple of cool laser cannons and wielding genuine Star Wars blasters is a treat, but there isn’t anything to match Doom’s iconic BFG, nor the simple satisfaction that comes from its shotgun.

If Doom’s cloning process got attacked with Star Wars DNA, Dark Forces is what would come out of the vat. It might be another Doom clone at its core, but around the edges there are enough glimpses of what the future of the genre holds. The stronger narrative and more varied and coherent objectives, along with its compelling use of the Star Wars brand lend for more a authentic shooting experience.

Other reviews for Star Wars: Dark Forces (PC)

    Still a 2½D Classic 0

     I've said this before but Dark Forces is probably my favorite Doom clone. It brought the Star Wars universe with all its diverse locations and creatures into a two-and-a-half dimensional game with an engine capable of faking 3D environments and set pieces. It didn't and still doesn't get near enough respect. Let's get the negatives out the way first. Though there are 10 weapons, nearly all of them fall into two categories; repeating lasers and explosives more likely to blow yourself up rather t...

    3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

    More Then Just a Doom Clone 0

    A new chapter has started in the Star Wars Universe with the purchase of LucasArts with Disney and the Gaming licences going to Electronic Arts, creating new games and franchises to be set up in a universe that goes hand and hand with gaming but I want to look at some of the gems of past and give my thought on them. Recently I came across Dark Forces during the Star Wars sale on Steam, and for the price of a $1.30 I couldn't say no to a new adventure. Coming out in 1995 and during the beginning ...

    1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

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