Kyle Katarn is a former Imperial officer turned mercenary, now hired by the Rebel Alliance. After having stolen the Death Star plans from a remote facility, he is tasked with investigating the sudden destruction of a hidden Rebel base. This leads him to face off against Imperial General Rom Mohc and the various iterations of his Dark Troopers – cybernetic soldiers with the armor and firepower to turn the tide of the war.
Dark Forces is a close prequel to the original Star Wars movie trilogy. The game marks LucasArts’ first attempt to enter the first-person shooter market. Instead of licensing the DOOM engine, like many competitors, LucasArts created its own internal Jedi engine. The Jedi engine contains advanced features over similar tech, including the ability to look up and down, jump, crouch, and limited support (in the build used for Dark Forces) for rooms (sectors) over rooms. The 3D models also make occasional appearances inside the game, as turrets or Kyle’s ship dropping him off or picking him up from each mission.
Most levels have a fairly complex, often maze-like structure, and include various switches that need to be activated to change the layout of the level. Jumping is integrated into the gameplay, as certain areas can only be accessed in that way. In addition to weapons, Kyle can use shields to protect himself from damage, a head lamp to illuminate dark areas, as well as specific items used to counter environmental hazards. The player character is given a certain amount of “lives” per level; he dies permanently once he runs out of all of them. Game progress can be saved only between missions.
The game features fourteen substantial levels as Kyle works to disarm the Dark Trooper project. Many levels reference characters or areas from the Star Wars movie trilogy, such as a visit with Jabba the Hutt, a trip to Coruscant, and a battle through the interior of a Star Destroyer. As opposed to most first-person shooters of the time period, every level has objectives for Kyle to complete, ranging from grabbing a clue and getting out alive, to planting charges around a facility to demolish it. Cutscenes appear between key missions to update the plot.
The Star Wars license gets plenty of use, as the game features imperial officers, stormtroopers, and a collection of aliens seen in the films as enemies. Blaster rifles and thermal detonators are used as weapons, along with other firearms inspired by the tech of the films. Dark Forces also uses the iMuse engine to dynamically change the music during action scenes, with much of the music based off or directly replicating, John Williams’ original film score.
The game is entirely a single-player campaign; no multiplayer is included or supported.
- Genre: Action
- Developer: LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC
- Year: 1995