Star Wars: Dark Forces is a first-person shooter computer game released on February 15, 1995, by LucasArts. The game introduces the character of Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial Stormtrooper and agent, now a mercenary for hire in the service of the Rebel Alliance. The story takes place both just before and mostly after the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.
Kyle Katarn infiltrates an Imperial base on the planet Danuta, in order to steal the Death Star plans. The Mission to Danuta results in Rebel possession of the plans that would later be given to Princess Leia and the destruction of the Death Star.
After the Battle of Yavin, Kyle is again contacted by Mon Mothma to investigate an Imperial assault on the Tak Base of Talay, using a type of Imperial trooper never encountered previously. After the attack on Tak Base Kyle infiltrates the ruins of the base and discovers a prototype dark trooper weapon. The initials "M.R." are discovered on it, which are found to stand for Moff Rebus, an infamous Imperial weapons engineer. This investigation reveals the dark trooper project, led by General Rom Mohc, and this leads Katarn to Anoat, where he finds the Moff hiding in the sewage system of Anoat City.
During interrogation, Moff Rebus reveals the location of a testing facility for the mineral phrik, used in the construction of dark troopers, on the planet Fest. After obtaining a sample of this mineral, Kyle is led to the Gromas system, where phrik is mined and the phase-I dark troopers are manufactured. After the destruction of this facility, Crix Madine is found to have been captured by the Empire and sent to an Imperial detention center on Orinackra. Once Kyle has rescued Madine, he provides Kyle with critical information regarding the dark trooper project.
Kyle travels to the Ramsees Hed docking port on Cal-Seti, which is used for Imperial runs to the frozen planet of Anteevy, where the second phase of dark trooper construction was completed. After smuggling himself aboard an Imperial ship, Kyle reaches Anteevy and destroys the Ice Station Beta facility. He is afterwards led to Nar Shaddaa, where he obtains a Nava card. At this point in the scenario, the Empire has placed a large bounty on his head, and as he pulls out of Nar Shaddaa, the Moldy Crow is captured by Jabba the Hutt in the Star Jewel.
Here, Kyle is stripped of his weapons and has to fight hand-to-hand with a kell dragon. After obtaining his weapons, he and Jan Ors escape to Coruscant, the only place where Kyle can insert the Nava Card into a decoder to reveal data chips used for additional information. On his way to his ship, Kyle finds the Crow missing and Boba Fett (hired by Mohc) waiting for him. He defeats Fett after a hard fight and then travels to the Imperial Fuel Station Ergo, where he sneaks onto the Executor. From here, he smuggles himself aboard the Arc Hammer, where the third and final phase of the dark troopers is being overseen.
Finally, Kyle faces Rom Mohc, spearhead of the operation (who is using the only phase-III dark trooper exoskeleton in existence), and defeats him. Kyle proceeds to blow up the Arc Hammer and escape. Watching from the Executor, Darth Vader comments that this "is an unfortunate setback" and somewhat prophetically notes that "the Force is strong with Katarn."
For his actions and bravery in the face of defeat, Mon Mothma awards Kyle the Star of Alderaan.
The missions follow a storyline, sometimes interrupted by videos to progress the tale. Each mission has its own briefing and objective. The levels were designed to represent actual bases, mines, facilities, and other known places from the Star Wars universe, like Star Destroyer interiors, Jabba's ship, Coruscant, etc.
- The Death Star Plans - Operation Skyhook: Part II
- Talay: Tak Base, After The Massacre
- Anoat City - The Subterranean Hideout
- The Planet Fest: Imperial Weapons Research Faciliy
- Gromas Mines - The Blood Moon
- Imperial Detention Center, Orinackra: Crix Madine's Fate
- Ramsees Hed Docking Port, Cal-Seti - Deadly Cargo
- Robotics Construction Facility, Anteevy - Ice Station Beta
- Nar Shaddaa, the Vertical City: The Death Mark
- Jabba the Hutt's ship: Jabba's Revenge
- Imperial City, Coruscant - The Imperial Mask
- Imperial Fuel Station, Ergo - Smuggler's Hijack
- The Executor - The Stowaway
- The Arc Hammer - The Dark Awakening
Dark Forces was released during the hype started with Doom a year earlier. Often labeled a "Doom clone" like other games following that trend, Dark Forces may have been created to counter the many unofficial Star Wars–themed WADs for Doom. LucasArts is rumored to have reverse-engineered the Doom engine to find out how to build their own. The "Jedi Engine" was more advanced than that of Doom. It allowed designers to construct overlapping sectors ("room-over-room") to create multistory buildings, bridges, and similar structures; most earlier first-person shooter engines, such as Doom, do not support this ability. The Jedi Engine does not support perspective correction when looking up and down.[source?]
Doom had shared textures for all levels, one solid objective (which was simply to move from entry to exit), and maps which were designed often very abstractly, with the architecture often somewhat unrealistic. The levels of Dark Forces each had their own unique texture sets that were rarely reused, their own briefings and objectives which often varied, and maps which were designed to represent actual bases, mines, facilities, and other known places from the Star Wars universe, like Star Destroyer interiors, Jabba's ship, Coruscant, etc.
Several cinematics reused images from earlier games, such as Star Wars: X-Wing (Vader's talking animation with Mohc and Mon Mothma's awarding cutscene) and Star Wars: TIE Fighter (Vader's closeup in the final cutscene). Like TIE Fighter, several space scenes in Dark Forces were 3D-rendered. Not until Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire did LucasArts began using original filming with actors and stunts.[source?]
Lead artist and author Justin Chin stated that weapons like the Bryar pistol and Packered mortar gun were named after his personal favorites, such as composer Gavin Bryars and 1950s Packard automobiles, respectively.
A character named Ruu San was meant to appear in the game, and was briefly described as an antagonist of Kyle Katarn in the article Revving Up the 'Jedi Engine' in Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 1. However, she did not appear in the final release of the game.
All Dark Forces cheat codes start with
LA- (LucasArts), paralleling the cheat codes of id Software titles, which always began with
George Lucas appeared on CNN's Future Watch show and demonstrated/promoted the game. Lucas and Daron Stinnett also promoted it in Disneyland when they traveled there for the opening of the Indiana Jones train.[source?]
The first mission was released independently as a demo of the game. The intro of the demo is different from the published product in that it contains a Rambo-ish cutscene showing Kyle preparing his gear for the mission. This was omitted from the final game. The reason for this is not clear since the files of that sequence already exist in the CD. However, it's possible to reinsert the missing scene into the game.
The game was originally published with a manual which contained additional backstory text. On April 29, 2015, the game was released on PlayStation Network, and made available to play on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable.
Dark Forces was the 11th best selling computer game of the period 1993 to 1999, with an estimated 952,000 copies sold.[source?] The game was followed by novelizations and a sequel, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. Jedi Knight spawned an entire series of games which includes the expansion Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. This series, with the exception of Jedi Academy, focuses on the continuing exploits of Kyle Katarn, many of which take place after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.
The game was criticized at the time for lacking a multiplayer mode; however, given the growing complexity of games as the 21st century approached, developers had to decide whether to trade off online play for the single-player storyline missions. It also did not have mid-level saves, instead having extra lives like Doom's predecessor Wolfenstein 3D. While Doom's gameplay placed an emphasis on fast-paced action and combat, Dark Forces was considerably slower paced. Dark Forces also included numerous puzzles that the player had to solve to advance. While difficult for the casual player and often frustrating, this gave Dark Forces much appeal among hardcore gamers and critics. The "omission" of the lightsaber was frequently questioned on forums by casual fans who were not satisfied with having the fist as the only melee weapon. However, those familiar with Star Wars noted that only Force-sensitive users could effectively wield such a weapon. This controversy no doubt influenced the direction of the sequel.[source?]
Many of the key data files in Dark Forces were actually plain-text files, allowing fans to decipher the formats and write tools to edit them. These have been used to create a wide variety of new levels for the game. Many of the same fans have gone on to create tools and editors for the later games in the series; and at least two, Yves Borckmans and Don Sielke, joined LucasArts to work on Dark Forces II. In 2002, a team of fans began the Dark Forces Mod project, planning to remake the game utilizing the Quake III engine used in the latest sequel, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (later adapted to Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy when it was released). Later, they announced that they would be ending the project, and posted a final release containing full remakes of the first six levels of the game. However, an effort to remake the remaining levels was still underway as of January 2009.
|Organizations and titles||Sentient species||Vehicles and vessels||Weapons and technology||Miscellanea|
Organizations and titles
Vehicles and vessels
Weapons and technology
- Dark Forces Manual: Coded Transmissions
- "LucasArts Update: The Creation Story" – Star Wars Insider 23
- "Revving Up the 'Jedi Engine'" – Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 1
- "Where Aliens are Fair Game" – Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 3
- "Lucasfilm's Latest" – Star Wars Insider 27
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Limited Collector's Edition
- The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
- "Game Knights" – Star Wars Galaxy Magazine 13
Notes and references
- Email from Chin recorded in The Dark Forces FAQList
- Star Wars: Dark Forces on Wikipedia
- Doom Clone Troopers – The Story Behind Star Wars: Dark Forces (backup link)
- DF-21, an active fansite including a forum and an archive of fan-made levels
- Dark Forces Mod, the website of the now-ended remake project
- Dark Forces Mod, continuation of the abovementioned project
- Dark Forces page at MobyGames