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1 Player

Game Type


Mem. Card

Review Date

July 1997

Setting the Scene

Based on one of the most popular series of movies ever made, Lucas Arts take us on a trip through the STAR WARS TRILOGY. The game includes settings from all three movies and features many associated characters such as Jabba the Hut, Interrogation Droids, and Darth Vader. You can take out your frustrations on the many Stormtroopers, or maybe one of the bounty hunters such a Boba Fett. Even the elusive swamp creatures make an explosive appearance.

The Empire has begun developing a terrifying new weapon of destruction - the Dark Trooper. Armies are being constructed then shipped off across the galaxy and this is regarded as a threat to the existence of the Rebellion. Rebel mercenary Kyle Katurn must hunt down the Imperial bases that are developing the weapon and destroy the flagships.


Dark Forces is a strategy shoot-em-up where your mission should you choose to accept it, is to guide the rebel spy through 14 massive levels, locate and destroy the newly created Dark-Trooper, taking with you as many of the enemy as you go!


The Star Wars Trilogy of movies oozed with quality visuals, superb special effects and a crystal clear soundtrack that remained firmly in your head for days. Dark Forces, unfortunately is exactly the opposite in these departments.

As you advance through the game the story is explained by short clips between levels which are reminiscent of the old Monty Python cartoon fillers. Imagine the scene - a cardboard cut-out of Darth Vader stands on the bridge presenting a rousing speech to his inferior commander. You know that he has blown a fuse because someone is behind the rigid Darth Vader shaking the cut-out too and fro. The cowardly commander is an obese balding chap and because he does not have the benefit of a shining black helmet to cover his features we have the pleasure of seeing his mouth in motion. Cue stage hand, to move a section of his chin (that is surely connected to a stick) up and down. So it goes on, scene after scene, cardboard cut-out after cardboard cut-out. I found myself losing track of the excellent storyline because I couldn't concentrate on what they were saying, I was so gob-smacked.

Moving on to the in-game graphics. Three years on, the average looking PC version has finally reached the PSX and it is virtually a straight port, so don't expect any next generation update. From afar the enemies don't look too bad but get up close and, ugh, crude low resolution pixilation. It's looks similar to a mosaic picture. The same can be said about the scenery which appears stunning from a distance but incredibly blocky when near-by.

Sounds and Effects

The quality of the soundtrack is inexcusable considering that the PSX uses a CD rather than a cartridge. It sounds like a cheap tape has been used on a tinny cassette player and recorded in a public toilet.

There are many hundreds, possibly, thousands of Stormtroopers to destroy throughout the 14 levels of Dark Forces and each and every one of them will hail "Stop rebel scum" before launching an assault. Suffice to say this begins to grind on you after a while.


So, the graphics are messy, the animated scenes are laughable and the sound quality is naff. Surely there must be something within Dark Forces that justifies praise. Well there is. The gameplay is superb.

It's not all running around vast complex levels shooting everything in sight, although that is a fundamental part of the game. Each level includes a selection of missions which must be completed fully before you are allowed to advance onto the next planet. This may include retrieving codes from Imperial officers, pulling switches to de-activate force fields, switching on lighting systems or a liaison with a specific character. Once your penultimate mission is accomplished, you must back track to the landing zone to complete your final objective - get out of this goddam hell-hole.

The levels are truly massive and varied in design with each requiring use of the old grey matter for the many puzzles that must be solved to open up new areas of the game. In terms of structure the levels are fully three dimensional with many of the locations being multi-levelled. Narrow walkways cross high above the ground while tunnels and sewers snake far below the surface.

Secret areas which contain a wealth of power-ups and bonuses may be accessed by climbing high above the structures or ducking underneath narrow ledges. Power-ups appear in the form of health and ammo boosters while your arsenal of weapons may be increased if you stumble upon some of the nine meaty blasters that are scattered throughout the levels.

You begin the game with three lives and a choice of three skill levels. Various essential items are collected which are displayed on your Hud. Energy packs are required to boost your shield generator and power your headlight for those dark spooky areas. Infra red goggles also come in handy while the Gas Mask should remain close at hand when you enter the toxic zones.

Gameplay is enhanced by the addition of the ability to look and shoot up and down. This small difference has massive ramifications on how difficult it is to kill off your enemies. Rather than just roughly aiming at your foe (as in Doom) you have to accurately line them up in your sights, before letting rip with your high powered weaponry. Crawling, crouching and jumping are also possible in this game.

I don't mind picking up a game and taking the time to master the controls as long as you can eventually concentrate on the task in hand. Unfortunately the set up in Dark Forces never really feels comfortable and you will find yourself constantly fidgeting about with the joypad, even at the later stages of the game. The strafe button is essential to your survival but why do certain developers allocate only one shoulder button combined with the D-pad for this motion. It never really works for me and at times feels downright messy.

Value for Money

If you can overcome the initial disappointment with the sound and visuals there is an excellent game within Dark Forces. Be warned, if you suffered motion sickness with Doom then have the vomit bags at hand in this jerky ride through the Galaxy.





Look, I don't want it to appear that I am just slagging off Dark Forces because the visuals did not reach the standard of Tomb Raider, or the controls never feel as intuitive as Doom, or even the animated scenes are so simplistic. It's just that I was so disappointed with the overall presentation, especially when the gameplay was so good and the storyline gripped your attention from the opening level to the thrilling climax. I expected so much more from a Lucas Arts product. Let's hope this is corrected when Dark Forces 2 appears and the frustrations of this game are left in a Galaxy far, far away.








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