Feeds

LucasArts' Dark Forces

Star Wars meets Doom in this classic first-person shooter from 1995

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster

All that said, Dark Forces was still loyal to its FPS origins too - some might say slavishly so. Its list of weaponry follows the classic fists, pistol, machine gun, mini-gun, rocket launcher, BFG ladder, just with some real Star Wars weapons thrown in, plus some cool new ones like the Fusion Cutter and the Concussion Rifle. No lightsabre, mind, or Force powers. They would have to wait for the sequel, 1997’s Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight.

Dark Forces

Mint Imperials

Likewise, there’s a clear hierarchy of bad buys, with Death Squad Commanders, Stormtroopers, Imperial Officers - whose hats cutely fly off when they’re shot, remotes, interrogation droids, mouse droids and probe droids being joined by Trandoshans - represented in the movie by the bounty hunter Bossk - plus Ree-Yees with their three eyes on stalks; slime dwelling Dianogas; and Gammorreans.

And there’s even a brief cameo from Boba Fett.

Not that Dark Forces didn’t extend the genre. While Doom prevented the player from looking up and down, Kyle Katarn can. He can also crouch and jump. Some areas were literally pitch black, with only droids’ lights and - if you found them - power ups or infra-red goggles to help you see. To make it tougher, you can't save the game during play.

Dark Forces

Gloomy Gromas

Dark Forces also features some of the most extensive locations to explore in an mid-1990s FPS, with some levels positively labyrinthine in their complexity - made more so with sections built on top of other sections for some very impressive three-dimensional architecture. Parts of which could move, too. Not merely up and down like Doom’s elevators, but sideways and rotationally. There are conveyor belts and drag-you-along sewage streams. There’s slippery ice. There are hazy, poisonous fumes.

And while, yes, Dark Forces had three colours of key - red, blue and yellow - just like Doom, and the inevitable but unrealistic secret rooms, at least it imposed a broader array of mission parameters than ‘find key, open door’. There were sequences of different-speed elevators to ascend, multiple switches to hit to open up computer cores or to detonate the Arc Hammer’s reactors.

Dark Forces

True-to-the-movie architecture fills each level

The FPS feature that Dark Forces didn’t offer was multi-player gaming, but this was early days for LAN play, let alone over-the-net gaming. Its absence didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the game, played on the Mac, though in a form that’s long been incompatible with modern Apple machines. I tried it again recently using the DOS emulator DOS box - I still have the original CD - though in DOS’ grainy 320 x 240 pixel-doubled graphics rather than the full 640 x 480 the Mac version was capable of, albeit only with a top-of-the-line Power Mac.

Come on, George, free up the source code.

DOS and Mac discs can still be found on eBay and such, if you fancy rekindling fond memories. Just never fear being told: “You’re in violation of Imperial law!” ®

Developer LucasArts
Publisher LucasArts
Release Date 1995
Platforms Initially DOS, Mac, later PS1.
More info Dark Forces info at Moby Games

More Retro Games

Half-Life Populous Legend of Zelda
Ocarina of Time
Ghostbusters Goldeneye

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.