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Star Wars: Dark Forces

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Star Wars: Dark Forces is a first-person shooter game set in the Star Wars universe and released by Lucasarts in 1995 for the PC, Macintosh, and Playstation. The game is a first-person shooter for the PC, Macintosh, and PlayStation. It was the first officially produced Star Wars first-person shooter.In Dark Forces, the player controls Kyle Katarn, a mercenary working for the Rebel Alliance. Dark Forces contains fourteen missions and can be played on three difficulty settings. Dark Forces was followed by Star Wars: Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, which in turn lead to Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Jedi Knight and its sequel again star Kyle Katarn, but he is not the main character of Jedi Academy.

Story

It introduces the character of Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial agent, who is now a mercenary for hire in the service of the Rebel Alliance.

The story takes place both before and after the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The first mission (which was also released independently for the game demo) was an infiltration of an Imperial base in order to steal the original plans of the Death Star, those that would be later given to Princess Leia and lead to the Death Star's destruction in A New Hope.

After the Battle of Yavin, Kyle is contacted again to investigate a mysterious and devastating Imperial assault on the Rebel base on the planet of Talay. Kyle is hired by Mon Mothma to go investigate the ruins. She advises him that rumors indicate the base was attacked by a new breed of stormtrooper. Kyle's investigation reveals the Imperial Dark Trooper project, led by General Rom Mohc. Kyle searches the base and finds a broken weapon used by the Dark Troopers in their assault. The game continues, Kyle faced with the goal of learning everything he can about the Dark Troopers - and then destroying them. Each mission brings him closer to the Arc Hammer, the source of the project.

Although not part of the original Star Wars universe, the Dark Trooper project nonetheless fits into the expanded universe, along with the stories from other Star Wars computer games.

Conflicts in Canon

As a video game, Dark Forces is generally considered a part of the Extended Universe, which is not strictly canon. However, parts of the game have appeared in apparently canon places. However, the information in Dark Forces conflicts in several ways with both canon storyline and other Extended Universe sources.

The first level, where Kyle recovers the Death Star plans, contradicts with the game X-Wing and the novel Rebel Dawn. In X-Wing, the plans are intercepted by a rebel satellite; in Rebel Dawn, they are captured by a rebel taskforce. These conflicts are sometimes explained by the theory that each group captured a piece of the Death Star plans, which were combined and given to Princess Leia.

The Dark Troopers appear in several other games, including Star Wars: Rebellion, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, and Star Wars: Battlefront. However, in almost every place where they appear outside of Dark Forces, the Dark Troopers have different capabilities and are described differently. In Rebellion, the Dark Troopers are described as wielding limited Force power. In Battlefront, they carry different weapons and have a much shorter lasting jet-pack. The Essential Guide to Droids states that the Dark Troopers are droids, which contradicts Rebellion.

Engine

Visually, the Dark Forces engine seems somewhat remniscent of the Doom engine, with similar architecture and lighting and most objects represented as 2D sprites. However, the Dark Forces engine is capable of several things Doom was not. It allows for rooms to be placed on top of one another, and the capability for architecture to move horizontally rather than just vertically. It also adds the ability to look up and down.

Additionally, Dark Forces is capable of containing simple 3D objects besides architecture. Several things in the game, including mouse droids, a welding arm, and Kyle's ship The Moldy Crow, are rendered in 3D.

Gameplay

Gameplay in Dark Forces is a fairly standard first-person shooter for the time, consisting mostly of "blast everything that moves" with occasional puzzles. Puzzles generally involve flipping switches, similar to Doom's "find-the-keycard" puzzles. Dark Forces was one of the first games that allowed players to jump and crouch, as well as look up and down, which adds a bit to the gameplay when compared with other early first-person shooters. Many weapons also have a secondary fire mode, which adds a small amount of depth to combat.

Enemy AI is fairly simple but adequate. Enemies will react to noise, and will actively pursue the player if he or she is not in immediate view. Some enemies also yell orders or insults at the player. The majority of enemies are humanoid (mainly Imperial troops and aliens such as Grans) who are easily killed, although the game also features some tougher opponents (such as the Dark Troopers and Boba Fett) who appear relatively infrequently. Dark Forces was not designed to be a gory game, and does not feature any blood.

As is fairly standard with first-person shooters, Dark Forces includes both health and armor (in the form of shields). Health has a maximum of 100 while shields have a maximum of 200.

Power-ups are strewn throughout Dark Forces, in the form of weapons, ammunition, shields, and health. Powerups are pre-positioned in each level, but some types enemies will drop ammunition or weapons.

Dark Forces introduces capabilities such as looking up and down, jumping and crouching, and a headlamp and IR goggles which illuminate dark areas. In contrast to earlier games, the player takes damage from large falls. The game also features liquid surfaces, in the form of rivers and pools, in which the player partially submerges. Levels are generally far more dynamic than in Doom, including such items as moving platforms, conveyor belts, flowing rivers, and rotating fans. These various aspects allowed for more realistic and challenging environments.

Unlike many other FPS games of its era, Dark Forces was constructed around a strong plot. The missions followed a reasonably detailed storyline, sometimes interrupted by cutscenes to progress the tale. Each mission had its own briefing and specific objectives, such as retrieving items or planting explosives, instead of simply killing enemies and reaching the exit. The levels were intentionally designed to present a cognitive as well as physical challenge, and thus included numerous puzzles. The player found himself in numerous and varied environments such as bases, mines, cities, and other known places from the Star Wars universe such as Star Destroyer interiors, Jabba the Hutt's space yacht and Coruscant. This exotic variety was a refreshing change from Doom's often criticized recycling of textures and tilesets.

Weapons

In common with most FPS games, Dark Forces features a range of weapons that utilise different kinds of ammunition. In early missions, the player has access to simple weapons such as the stormtrooper rifle, but as the game progresses increasingly powerful guns become available, including a mortar gun and a concussion rifle (which is Dark Forces' version of the BFG). The game also features throwable grenade-like thermal detonators and anti-personnel mines. Notably, Dark Forces was one of the first FPS games to implement alt-fire modes for the game's weaponry.

Although there is no lightsaber in Dark Forces (since Kyle Katarn was not yet a Jedi), much disappointed discussion over this omission may have shifted the direction of the sequel to chronicle Katarn's rise as a Jedi. Oddly, many of the Dark Forces weapons have not shown up elsewhere in the Star Wars universe; game designer Justin Fisher admitted that weapons like the Bryar laser pistol and Packard mortar gun were named after his personal favorites, such as 1950s Packard automobiles.

  • Fists: In an emergency, Kyle can rely on his fits for combat. The fists have a low rate of fire, low damage, and no range, but they do not require any sort of ammunition.
  • Modified Bryar Pistol (Blaster Pistol): Kyle's Bryar blaster pistol is modified to have increased range and accuracy. This weapon is very accurate, but has a low rate of fire and low damage. Each shot consumes one energy unit.
  • Stormtrooper Laser Rifle (Blaster Rifle): The standard issue weapon for all Imperial stormtroopers, the blaster rifle (more specifically a Blastech E-11) has a fairly high rate of fire and deals more damage than the blaster pistol. However, it is not as accurate over long distances. The blaster rifle consumes two energy units per shot.
  • Thermal Detonator: The thermal detonator is a thrown grenade-style weapon which explodes and does significant damage in a small radius. Holding the trigger increases the distance the detonator will be thrown. In primary fire, the grenades explode on contact. Secondary Fire: The detonator is set on a short timer, useful for bouncing or rolling.
  • Imperial Repeater Gun (Autogun): The repeater is an automatic weapon with low damage offset by a high rate of fire. The repeater retains fair accuracy over distance. Its primary fire uses one power cell unit per shot. Secondary Fire: Fires a trio of shots in a triangle formation. Higher damage, lower rate of fire, and consumes 3 power cell units per shot.
  • Jeron Fusion Cutter: The fusion cutter is a powerful weapon with a low rate of fire. It has fair accuracy and uses one power cell unit per shot. Secondary Fire: Fires one shot from each of the four barrels. Uses eight power cell units.
  • I.M. Mine (Claymore): The mines are powerful explosives that are placed on the ground. The primary fire mode drops the mine with a three second fuse. Secondary Fire: Drops a mine set on proximity mode. This will explode when something (including the player) gets too close.
  • Packered Mortar Gun: The mortar gun lobs powerful explosive shells which explode on contact. These shells are less powerful than thermal detonators but fire faster. The mortar gun uses one shell per shot.
  • Stouker Concussion Rifle: The concussion rifle is a strong and accurate weapon that is useful for engaging multiple enemies. The concussion rifle fires invisible bullets of ionized air which explode on contact - the end result is a blue explosion at the location of a targeted enemy. If multiple enemies are in front of the player, the rifle can hit two of them with separate explosions. The explosions deal splash damage which is dangerous to the player. The concussion rifle uses four power cell units per shot.
  • Assault Cannon: The assault cannon is a very powerful weapon which uses its own ammunition, plasma cells. The cannon has a moderate rate of fire and decent accuracy. Each shot uses one power cell. Secondary Fire: Fires a rocket which travels in a straight line and explodes on contact. Deals splash damage. Each shot uses one rocket.

Characters

  • Jan Ors – Jan acts as Kyle’s mission commander for most of the game and pilots his ship the Moldy Crow.
  • Mon Mothma – impressed by Katarn's success in obtaining the Death Star plans, the Rebel Alliance's leader solicits Katarn’s services against Mohc and his army of Dark Troopers.
  • Crix Madine – General Madine, who would eventually play a prominent role in the build up to the Battle of Endor, defects to the Rebel Alliance with Katarn’s help during the Dark Forces campaign.
  • Moff Rebus – An Imperial weapons specialist who developed the weapons used by the Dark Troopers.
  • Jabba the Hutt – The crime lord’s services are employed by General Mohc, leading to a confrontation with Katarn.
  • Darth Vader – Vader oversees Mohc’s project and appears in numerous cutscenes during the game.

Enemies

  • Stormtrooper: The most common foe that Kyle will face during the game, stormtroopers are straightforward opponents that carry blaster rifles and drop energy units when killed. Stormtroopers have moderate accuracy and low health. Equipped with a blaster rifle, but quite slow moving. Only a real threat if they attack in large groups.
  • Imperial Officer: Imperial officers, dressed in brown uniforms, are fairly common opponents throughout the game. Armed with a blaster pistol, the Imperial officer is not particularly dangerous, and has low health. Officers drop energy units when killed. Officers are weak in terms of both hitpoints and firepower. They may carry keys and door codes.
  • Imperial Commando: The Imperial commando dresses in black and wields a blaster rifle. Better trained than stormtroopers or officers, the commando has higher accuracy and health. Commandos drop energy units when killed. They are tougher than stormtroopers, but similar in behaviour.
  • Probe Droid: Imperial probe droids are not an uncommon sight in Dark Forces, employed as sentries in some areas. Armed with a blaster equivalent to the blaster rifle, the probe droid hovers above the ground and attacks the player. Probe droids have average health and drop power cells when destroyed. Probe droids also explode when destroyed, posing a risk if the player is too close. Famous for the role it played in the Battle of Hoth, the probe droid is an airborne enemy equipped with a blaster cannon.
  • Interrogation Droid: The interrogation droid is occasionally employed as a sentry, often in remote areas. Armed with a short range energy weapon and a needle that can hurt the player through shields, the interrogation droid is only moderately dangerous but best destroyed from long range. Interrogation droids drop power cells. Used by Vader against Princess Leia in A New Hope. The interrogator droid fires a cannon and also has a close range attack.
  • Remote: The remote is a pesky but relatively harmless enemy found in a few places in Dark Forces. The remote has very little health, and its blaster only deals one damage, but it is very fast and moves about in a somewhat unpredicatable jerky manner, which can make it difficult to kill. If ignored for too long, or found in groups, remotes can be mildly dangerous. Small and fast moving, this droid can be difficult to destroy despite having very weak firepower.
  • Sewer creature – See Dianoga.
  • Trandoshan: The Trandoshan is a lizardlike alien which wields the deadly concussion rifle. These enemies have average health but are very dangerous because of their powerful weapon. When killed, the Trandoshan leaves behind power cells. This character is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Bossk, who is actually a specific Trandoshan.
  • Gran: The Gran is a three-eyed alien which throws thermal detonators at a distance and punches at close range. The Gran is fairly accurate with the thermal detonators, and its punches go through shields, so the Gran is a somewhat difficult opponent. Grans have average health and drop thermal detonators when killed. This character is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Ree-Yees, who is actually a specific Gran.
  • Gamorrean Guard: The piglike Gamorrean guard is an axe-wielding opponent with slightly above average health. Gamorreans are slow, and they must be right next to the player to attack, but their axe does a significant amount of damage and goes through shields.
  • Kell Dragon: The Kell Dragon is a slow, four legged creature with a very tough hide. Kell Dragons can only attack by biting, but they do a large amount of damage with each bite, and their teeth go through shields. Kell Dragons are particularly stupid and usually won't follow the player if they can't see him or her. The player must defeat with his bare hands on Jabba’s ship.
  • Dianoga: Dianogas are creatures which dwell exclusively in sewer refuse. They spend most of their time underwater but will occasionally pop up to attack the player. They have average health and do moderate damage.
  • Ceiling Turret: Ceiling turrets are ceiling-mounted weapon emplacements that will attack the player when alerted.
  • Boba Fett: Boba Fett appears as a boss in one part of the game. His jet pack allows him to fly fast for infinite periods, while his armor gives him a much longer life span than most enemies. He also does significant damage with his weapons. The airborne bounty hunter attacks you with relatively weak missiles but is difficult to target due to his small size and quick movement. Presumably, his "death" in Dark Forces is not a real death as he appears in Return of the Jedi.
  • Phase I Dark Trooper: The first phase of Dark Trooper is humanoid machine armed with a sword and a shield. The Phase Is are stupid and move slowly, but are well-armored, and their sword does considerable damage and goes through shields. The Phase I's armor also reflects many types of weapon fire. This peculiar robot resembles a mediaeval knight; it carries a shield which repels energy weapons and attacks the player with a sword.
  • Phase II Dark Trooper: The more powerful and dangerous Phase II carries a powerful assault cannon and boasts a combination repulsorlift/jetpack for flying for prolonged periods. The Phase IIs are faster than the Phase I and have significant health. Phase II Dark Troopers drop rockets and plasma cells. A very powerful enemy which carries an assault cannon and is capable of flight.
  • Phase III Dark Trooper: The final boss in the game is the immense Phase III Dark Trooper, a suit worn by General Mohc himself. He has a jet pack but is very slow. He also has an immense amount of health and will take a long time to destroy. Mohc is armed with an oversized assault cannon and rockets. The rockets are incredibly powerful but move so slowly that it is easy to shoot them out of the sky.
  • General Rom Mohc – The final boss of the game, Mohc looks and behaves very similarly to the Phase II Dark Trooper. He is also able to fire homing missiles at the player.

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