The Star Wars madness continues...
In the past few years we have witnessed Lucas Arts produce Rebel Assault, X-Wing, Tie Fighter, digitized Star Wars trilogy on video tape, and now the entire Star Wars trilogy again with new footage on the big screen. I suppose that this is really great since I've been a big fan of this galactic epic since being a kid, and so are most of the people out there. It is for these people that we now present Dark Forces.
Originally on the PC, Dark Forces, has been recently brought out on the PlayStation platform. This first person shooter takes place during a side plot to the movie story. The main character is Kyle Katarn, a mercenary who works for the Rebel Alliance as a spy and infiltrator. Your objective is to unravel the secrets to the Empire's newest technology, 'Dark Forces'. These new imperial robots are strong enough to destroy the Alliance and only you can stop them...
Following the theme of Star Wars, you get to use various cool weapons from the movies such as blasters and Stormtrooper rifles. Even the music is reminiscent (if not exactly like) the movie's. Throughout the game you get to blast Stormtroopers and those funny looking guys dressed in total black with the big helmets. Between each level there's an animation updating you on the story and your mission briefing.
All this really sounds great, but when you look deeper into the game, it's just a clone of many other Doom type games, this time taking place with the background of Star Wars. Dark Forces really disappoints in terms of both novelty and gameplay. By now, pretty much everyone has played these types of games. After trying other ones such as Quake on PC, or the recent Turok on N64, you can't help but experience unfulfillment with Dark Forces.
Aside from not looking as good as the computer version, the graphics also fail to even keep up with current standards, showing all the jagged edges of the enemies and buildings. Despite the extensive PSX pallette, there are very few colors. The overall coloring of the background is dark and bland. The movement is noticeably unsmooth, and it makes the player dizzy. In all, let's just say that the game does not appeal well to the eye. The sound effects are simple and the music wears out after a couple of missions. In both sight and sound, there really is a dearth of richness and aesthetic appeal.
Some of the controls in the game include turning on night vision for better view in the dark. Unfortunately, there really is no disadvantage in leaving it on all the time since it only makes dim rooms appear brighter and the enemies will always see you no matter how dark the surroundings. So there is really no point to this feature. There is also an automap that displays the traveled areas. When moving around with the map on, it's difficult to determine the direction of the character because the arrow is small. One other thing that makes the map confusing is that it shows the layout of all the places traveled on the same level. This means that if you're on the second floor, you'll see parts of other buildings even though you're only concerned with the one your currently in.
Each mission is inefficiently long. To pass one level, it could take hours just to explore the map and figure out all the secrets. Then you must complete multiple tasks such as turning on a power generator, blowing up something, and then meeting at the rendez vous point. After finally finishing the level, the animation clip comes on. Lucas Arts could definitely improve on this movie clip. The art is drab and cheesy, not to mention the super low budget 'only the mouth moves' animation. This is especially strange (and irritating) when you compare it to the LucasArts release Rebel Assault II which has some of the best FMV we've ever seen.
After playing Dark Forces, I must say that this game is the very definition of average. There's nothing about it that dazzles. I wish that I could at least say "Oh wow, cool!" at some point... but I didn't. This type of first person shooter has really begun to wear thin, not to mention the entire Star Wars hype. It could be more bearable if the levels didn't take so long to finish. In general, the game didn't have much appeal and I think that the only thing that pushed it all the way through production was the Star Wars label. The popular PC version was superior, and came out more than a year ago. Lucas Arts usually creates better quality games than this and I'm sorry to say that Dark Forces just didn't excite.