Star Wars: Dark Forces
Doom-style game alert! Doom-style game alert! You have two months to clear your social life! Two months before Dark Forces arrives. Watch out - this Christmas should see the release of what sounds like the game we've all been waiting for: Star Wars Doom. LucasArts have developed their own Doom-style engine to meld all the thrills and spills of our favourite sci-fi epics with first-person, in-your-face, 3D, Doom-like action.
The plot plonks you in the space boots of a Rebel secret agent sent to infiltrate an Imperial Star Destroyer to recover the plans for the Empire's new weapon - the Death Star (how many times do they build this thing?). As you scurry through corridors, dash across catwalks, and rescue croissant-haired princesses from detention blocks engaging entire squadrons of stormtroopers in blaster battles, you learn of an even more secret Imperial research base. Located on a distant, mountainous planet, the Empire's base is developing a new breed of cybernetic warriors - the Dark Stormtroopers.
The game is set to feature a character capable of looking up and down, as well as ducking and jumping manoeuvres. A vast array of laser weaponry is on hand, plus a motion detector and automap. Dark Forces will have over a dozen levels, support multi-player network play (a la Doom), and will be flying down your exhaust port around Christmas time.
Doom is good. Let's not piss about here, it's one of the few fundamental truths... the sky is blue, grass is invariably green, bears do indeed shit in the woods and Doom is bloody excellent. Any software house or development team that is intending to pitch a product against Doom is either a) completely and utterly nuts, or b) confident that it can produce something better. Whilst we've seen a number of complete arses that fit into category a), it's not until now that we can say anyone has had a stab at category b).
Enter LucasArts Entertainment... purveyor of pc games of ridiculously high quality and the firm responsible for this game. Dark Forces. If you love Doom and have even the remotest soft spot for Star Wars (so we're talking about roughly 99 per cent of the pc games playing population now) you are going to soil your pants when you get a load of this game.
It may sound a bit sad, but I'm making the presumption here that pretty much everyone is a big fan of Star Wars. There are few films in history which deserve complete anorak-head fans, but if anything is deserving then Mr Lucas' trilogy is more than worthy. As with previous LucasArts games which are based on the glorious work. Dark Forces doesn't follow any particular film script, it simply employs all of the facts and bits of data which have been collated over the past 16 years. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie et al don't make an appearance at all... you are simply made aware that you are knocking around at about the same time as them.
Playing the role of an elite special agent on the Rebel Alliance's covert intelligence team, your initial mission is to infiltrate an Imperial Star Destroyer and steal the plans for the Death Star. Once this is complete, though, the game then plunges you into a host of totally new scenarios involving bits of Imperial equipment which have only been dreamt up for the likes of the table-top rpg's. You'll find yourself pitched against a host of new Storm troopers, as well as a number of super-human adversaries which are all strong in the dark side of the force.
The missions, of which there are 12, will take you from the corridors of the Star Destroyer, to the Imperial garrisons on faraway planets, the dark and rocky underground canyons of the Empire's hidden bases, and finally you will be freeing prisoners from cell blocks in an underground penitentiary whilst doing battle with Admiral Mohc's special army of Darktroopers. It's all utterly gripping stuff, and from what we've seen so far it is an absolutely enormous game... way bigger than a registered copy of Doom (oops, I've gone and said the "d" word again).
Okay, so the story line is pretty shit-hot, but if you were really proficient with a decent bunch of Doom editors you could generate something like this anyway... Is Dark Forces any better than this? Well, to be honest, and without shouting about the fact too much... YES, YES. YES. Why? For a start, the 3D engine is a real grade-A product all on its own. As well as silky smooth, full 360-degree movement within the environment, you also have an Llndenvorld/System Shock-style interface. which allows you to look both up and down at any time to interact with objects on either the floor or high up on the walls. Beyond this (System Shock-style again) you can make your character jump, duck and general skulk about in a "covert agent" kind of a way, whilst wandering through the texture-mapped, guru-shaded, morphed and generally wonderful looking scenery.
Aurally the game takes full advantage of the cd medium by offering a dramatic adaptation of the Star Wars score, as well as full speech and digitised sound effects taken from the LucasArts' library of Star War-sy sounds.
The mutt's nuts
With so many astounding games on the verge of release, it would appear that this Christmas is going to see an all-out war on the pc games front. With Doom II ready to hit the streets in October (see our review on page 60) and System Shock pretty much out there already, there is a lot going on in the 3D-action/adventure arena at the moment.
Although I'm loathe to pass judgements in preview-style articles, it has to be said that Dark Forces looks to have the potential to be relationship-wreckingly good. If you are not attached... find yourself a partner who loves Star Wars so that he/she won't get upset when you spend every waking hour playing this damn game. If you are already
attached, then you have got just over a month in which to indoctrinate them with Star Wars. Make him/her watch the videos, play X-Wing a lot and leave all of the numerous novels lying around all over the place. Failing this... just accept that some things were never meant to be.
Download Star Wars: Dark Forces
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode