Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Bit of FPS: Star Wars: Dark Forces

Often called a DOOM-clone because of its release a meager year afterward, Star Wars: Dark Forces was the game that fueled the fire of all Star Wars games to come. Set in the Star Wars universe, ostensibly around the time of the events featured in New Hope, the player controls Kyle Kattarn, a mercenary that has been hired by the Rebel Alliance. While its a possibility that I love this game because it has anything to do with Star Wars, because it was made by LucasArts, or because it was playable on computer its not clear. What is clear is that this is a freaking awesome game that deserves a bit more recognition.

The game play follows typical controls, though you could also play with a joy stick if you so desired. It is a First Person Shooter, so the perspective is the same as DOOM in that it has you looking out through the eyes of Kattarn. You are able to pick up shields and power ups throughout the game, just as you are with other FPSs, and are able to jump, duck, and look up and down—following the conventions that DOOM put in place with its release. Star Wars: Dark Forces also includes some larger Zelda-esque puzzles, like huge mazes that are controlled by numerous switches—something that I think is usually foreign from the FPS genre.

What differentiates Star Wars: Dark Forces most,  I think, is that the settings for the levels are ones that most players are already familiar with, like Jabba the Hutt's ship, or familiar planets from the movies. I thought that this helped me immerse myself even further into a world that I was already obsessed with—rather than creating a whole new system and planets, the game dropped me into a world that I was familiar with, and scenarios that I already was invested in because of watching the movies. As someone who traditionally is not a fan of FPSs, I think that that is probably why I was even willing to give this one a chance.

Each level of the game is essentially a "mission" with an objective and goals attached to it, and there are fourteen in total. This is not, however, a free world and you are required to follow a linear plot that is moved forward by sometimes long-winded cut sequences, such as the one that makes up much of the video below. Many of the levels surround the idea of the deterring the building of new Troopers and Droids as well as the collection of materials required to do so. This can be anything from rescuing captured allies to fighting a dragon with your bare hands. Ultimately, Kattarn is just a total bad ass that no one can really keep down—thought most of the fights do tend to err on the ranged side of things.

If you enjoyed any of the other Star Wars games that can after this ones release, I would solid recommend trying to get your hands on this one and play it if you hadn't already. It is foundational for the series as the whole, and also spawned a great deal of fanfiction and novel content about the Star Wars universe. While not much different from your average FPS this differentiates itself by having slightly different conventions, and being set in a universe we are all already familiar with and invested in. If you would like to try to play it online, you can do so here.  Happy gaming!

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