Star Wars: Dark Forces

Doom conquered our hearts and minds with its visceral feel and then revolutionary graphics. The barrage of clones was expected and received, with only a handful of games managing to rise above the regulars. One of them was Lucas Arts’ Dark Forces.

22You play as a rebel agent fighting against the Empire. The story takes a more focused approach than in typical shooters (this is a Lucas Arts game, after all), and as such you’ll be treated with cutscenes and actual mission objectives as you blast through the many missions. Goals range from finding the plans to the Death Star to freeing prisoners from Jabba or blowing up Imperial manufacturing plants. The ultimate aim is to seek out and destroy the Emperor’s latest weapon – the Dark Trooper.

There are fourteen levels in all, less than half the number of Doom II: Hell on Earth. But what they lack in numbers is more than made up with detail, size and variety. Each level will have a slightly distinctive tone and architecture, with structures that actually resemble Imperial installations and not just abstract pieces of geometry scattered everywhere. You navigate the corridors and the catwalks of different facilities and starships, with none of the places feeling like random mazes.

Each of the worlds also include different atmospheric effects. Red planets with their Martian-like rusty fog are juxtaposed with icy worlds. Steel fortresses give way to oozy sewers. Expect to see sights readily familiar to Star Wars fans as well – the Detention Center on one of the star destroyers is identical to that which held Princess Leia, right down to the trash compactor. On a more general note you’ll of course get to fight generic enemies from the movies all throughout – Imperial Officers, Stormtroopers, Gamorean Guards, Droids – with a rich assortment of weapons that range from your Blaster to an Assault Cannon.

23The interface offers a smooth ride. A Heads-Up Display indicates your current armor, health and weapon status, with an optional Doom-style automap making navigation easy through the sector-based maps. Sound effects are crisp and clear, the digitized voices amazing, and the background music, while primitive, still manages to evoke that sense of Star Wars wonder. If there’s any one negative you can pin to this game, it’s the lack of multiplayer.

But with its fantastic and lengthy solo blast-a-thon, this hardly registers as but a minor dent in an otherwise lovely Star Wars gaming classic.

System Requirements: 486DX 33 MHz, 4 MB RAM, DOS

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