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back to article LucasArts' Dark Forces

With the release of Doom in 1993, and Bungie’s Marathon, the year after, the first-person shooter was firmly on the gaming map, so it was no surprise LucasArts wanted to be there. If there was one thing a Star Wars fan wanted, it was to get in on the action, to grab a blaster and take out some Stormtroopers. In 1995, Dark Forces …

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Brilliant game - It set a standard in fps games only really surpassed by Half Life. Both DF2 and Jedi Academy also lived up to expectations, although JA2 was a bit disappointing.

Was re-released on Steam last year, along with its sequels - I'd highly recommend picking them up.

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Anonymous Coward

Do you mean Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy? Another naming convention of greatness, DF, DF:JK, JK2:JO, JK:JA.... argghhh.

Either way, the thing I preferred about Jedi Academy, even though it was the weaker game, was that you always kept your light sabre. There was a lot of running around shooting things which playing as a Jedi feels a little bit off in Jedi Knight 2. Just let me stab!!

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Boffin

I bought this and "Nativity In Black, a Tribute to Black Sabbath" on the same day and thus listened to it constantly while playing DF.... to this day certain tracks on that CD still conjure up scenes from various levels :)

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Come on, George, free up the source code.

Actually, that is no longer Georges decision. It's up to Disney now.

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'It's up to Disney now.'

..So we can look forward to 'Dark Forces 3 : Mickey Mouse rapes your childhood' coming soon to the Wii, IPad and I-Phone for just 100 micropayments of $1.99 each.

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Megaphone

A true masterpiece, easily the best of that generation of FPS.

Lucasarts, what happened to you man? You used to be *beautiful*.

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still mourn the loss of Dark Forces 2

Made the mistake of leaving the CD ROM in my PC over night. Thieves broke into my house and removed said PC with disk in machine. I never finished the game and could never find another disk either.

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Great, great game.

Loads of secrets in the levels too, which is always nice.

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Happy

Genuinely...

... the best FPS I have ever played.

The graphics are naturally primitive by current standards but for the time they were really good, and what it now lacks visually it even now makes up for in terms of sheer fun. There's a mission progression that actually makes proper logical sense, a coherent plot (unusual for anything Star Wars), intricate levels - some of which require proper problem solving to complete, a real sense of "you're on your own now" in not being able to save progress during a mission, and while the weapons may in themselves be a pretty standard assemblage, there is huge scope for using them creatively to get past the next baddie. It's a shame that as the visuals have improved in more recent FPS, many of these elements seem to have been left out.

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Still one of my absolute favourites

This game was amazing when it came out and I still enjoy replaying it. I had both the PC and the Playstation 1 versions of the game. The PS1 version was actually quite compromised, they took out the iMUSE system and just streamed pre-recorded versions of the PC midi music from the CD. The framerate on the PS1 was also a bit dodgy and the controls often required some quite convoluted combinations to switch weapons or run and jump.

On the subject of iMUSE, I think this was one of the last titles to use midi music. It had a fantastic score with lots of unique themes and cues (I think it was by Clint Bajakian). Sadly LucasArts moved on to chopping up bits of John Williams music for future games. While having full orchestral music was nice, I think the lack of a composer creating music specifically for each level was lost. The end credits music to Dark Forces in particular is one of my favourites.

I do remember being slightly annoyed that the longest cut-scene was the one at the end of the first level (and was included with the demo). Based on the demo you'd expect massive cut-scenes after every level but usually you'd get little more than a shot of the Mouldy Crow flying away from an explosion...

Does anyone remember the box to Dark Forces? There was a screenshot of a map to a level not in the game. As I understand it this was the original first level but it was dropped as it was considered too complicated.

A few years back some fans attempted to re-create the game using the Jedi Academy engine. I believe they re-made most of the game but there were a few levels that were never finished. Their website is here: http://darkforces.jediknight.net/

I think this is the first game to ever use a texture on a wall to display vital information (when in the vault on Coruscant). I remember wondering about that area for ages until I realised that the map on the wall was actually updating as I opened and closed doors and was meant to be used to guide you to the centre of the vault. I'd never seen anything like it before then and it really blew me away as suddenly walls could do more than just be barriers.

Dark Forces 2 Jedi Knight is also an absolute favourite of mine. I really wish LucasArts would consider making another one (and preferably not the shallow experience that was Force Unleashed)...

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Even better with enhanced graphics...

...and mouse controls provided by XLEngine.

I really like this game, but it is damn chunky on a modern monitor. The DarkXL overhaul makes it much more pleasant to play.

The early Lucasarts Star Wars games were great, Tie Fighter was their best title for me. Since KotOR every Star Wars game has been rubbish.

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Re: Even better with enhanced graphics...

I'm just trying to remember how many floppy disks X-Wing came on... lots of fun!

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Addiction Leads To Sickness

I think it was spending so much time trying to complete Dark Forces 2 that first gave me motion sickness. I have been unable to play PC FPSs since. Even playing a console FPS on the TV gives me motion sickness now.

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Terminator

It was a great game

but I could never work out how the hell you got to go mano a mano against Boba Fett (who was allegedly in the game somewhere).

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Re: It was a great game

Boba was one of the bosses, I don't think you could avoid him.

He was the flying one who attacked you with rockets, like the mark 2 robots but without a plasma gun.

I'm sure you kill him, which since the story takes place before TESB is a bit wrong. But it's possible he was just having a kip or something..

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A great game and i've finished it many times. I still have the original CD somewhere (White Label range).

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Imperial Officer

Being unable to save games mid level really upped the ante on this game.

The last one was particularly nasty, as you'd expect.. The adrenalin was really pumping as you got locked in the hangar with a bucketload of robo death and only a couple of lives left. You knew if you died, you'd have to go all the way back to the start, to face all those rocket-wielding, plasma-blasting goons again.

The very end was a bit of a revelation - never thought I'd feel sorry for an inattentive imperial officer, but there you go.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Being unable to save games mid level"

Am I the only one that found this game impossibly difficult to progress through beyond a couple of levels? I only have very vague memories, but I seem to be remember it being actually possibly to get a proper "game over" that you can't just reload your way out of (and your comment about having to "go back to the start" seems to confirm that).

That's not actually very good game design! My memories are "fun game while it lasts, but don't bother trying as it's going to kick you in the teeth"). Something about a sewer level evokes particularly horrible memories, but it's been a long time.

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Go

Re: Imperial Officer

The last one was particularly nasty, as you'd expect.. The adrenalin was really pumping as you got locked in the hangar with a bucketload of robo death and only a couple of lives left.

Instead of taking your chances in the hanger you can take careful shots from the safety of the elevator. Open the door, if a nasty is there take shots at him before the elevator door closes again. If a nasty isn't there, quickly run out and set a proximity mine, then run back. Satisfying when from behind the safely of the closed elevator door you hear that bleep of the proximity mine, explosion, then cry of the wounded nasty!

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Let's not forget the HUGE number of fan made levels. I collected a whole bunch of them and they extended the game life considerably.

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Anonymous Coward

this was a gem and a "how you do games linked to movies right" tbh a lot of the early lucasarts games were good at that, you'd interact whith events and characters you knew from the films and expand on them.

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Mushroom

Anyone else spend FAR too long in the Arc Hammer's toilet looking for a secret room?

Anyone else spend FAR too long in the Arc Hammer's toilet looking for a secret room?

I spent far to long shooting walls and using the urinals to find a secret room.

This was an amazing game, truly joyous to behold.

I had a fortuitous bug on the final boss. I dashed back into the lift to dodge a rocket, just as it was moving up (i assume to stop you from running away from the boss).

So I was trapped in the lift, safe from rocket fire and able to shoot the Dark Trooper.

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Am I the only one who remembers a small opening on one of the frozen planets, where, if you explored it and then turned on the map, it revealed a large rabbits head, a la Sam & Max?

Think I've still got the CD somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Is there something wacky with the method used to run the game for the screenshots? It looks to me like everything is fullbright - there's no brightness fade with depth. Is that due to the screenshots themselves or does the game really do everything fullbright (presumably in order to give more palette options for the textures...)?

Seems hard to believe the latter, but stranger things have happened.

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There's nothing wrong with the screen shots. I think you are saying there is no volumetric lighting or fog, which wad not technically possible at the time.

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Anonymous Coward

Nope - check out Doom screenshots. They darkened the textures with Z depth. They had to do it using some funky method to alter the bits of the palette they used (which is part of the reason that dark things in Doom turned grey) but it was most certainly possible. It was largely responsible for the sense of depth. To wit:

http://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/24660-doom-dos-screenshot-chainsaw-massacres.gif

Look at the ceiling, from top down - it gets darker in the distance. Not strictly realistic, but it makes a big difference to the sense of space.

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