Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster (PC)

Nightdive Studios are back, Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster is a full remaster of the 1995 classic. Often sited as a Doom clone, Nightdive have as per usual, lovingly remastered the game and ported onto all formats. Let’s see how it holds up.

Originally launched in 1995, Dark Forces was originally part of the golden era of Star Wars games, developed in house at Lucas Arts we were first introduced to future cult star wars icon Kyle Katarn, a mercenary hired by the Rebel Alliance, he would in later games become a Jedi and depending on the path turned to the light or dark side.

We see Kyle starting his journey joining the Rebel Alliance undertaking risky jobs that involve stealing the Death Star plans which is literally the first mission, we continue this journey learning about the Dark Troopers which are a new type of Imperial Soldiers being produced by Darth Vader.

Gameplay is formed as a classic First person shooter, with it being mid 90’s we’re in a very primitive year for the genre, only 18 months after Doom the genre was still much in its infancy. Dark Forces broke new ground being one of the first major first person shooters with jumping enabled. Maps are a good size, with lots of multi level… levels, with loads going on. It was a classic despite it not being hugely praised as so.

Porting it to new formats is what Nightdive do best using their own KEX engine they’ve ported it masterfully to their engine, whilst the game is still as good as it’s always been it’s worth noting what we’ve seen improvements in. Initially we’ve seen it have a new fresh coat of paint, running on new hardware we have full 4k resolution with 120FPS there’s tons of optimization options to get the game running how you want including original resolutions and refresh rates, so you can get it down to 30fps if you really want. The game’s also seen its cutscenes slightly reworked, it’s retained it’s original visual style, but just looks that bit fresher. Obviously for consoles it now works fully on consoles, with some additions like a weapons wheel and more so support for modern controllers.

Also included is the vault which includes quite a bit of additional content including a playable level named The Vault, which was a prototype of the original level shown at CES years ago, despite it being removed from the final game due to its difficulty, it was added here as a playable treat.

The audio has been kept in as much of its original format as possible, with both MIDI and OPL3 audio formats, without anything being upgraded from what I can tell, so those purists will be more than happy with this, it’s been ever so slightly cleaned up a bit but not fully reworked. Also the soundtrack is kept as it was, so versions of classic Star Wars music is there, however despite this not being John Williams’ original soundtrack, some of these hold up and fit the game perfectly.

Going back to the actual game, we do see a challenging but rewarding shooter, with levels previously mentioned being a good size, though sometimes you will finding objectives due to them blending in to their environment a bit too well. There’s a good amount of enemies however you will find yourself fighting a lot of storm troopers and other droids. Granted these are fodder it does fit into the universe perfectly well.

We visit a lot of Star Wars locations not really seen in the movies but a lot of characters in the game do make appearances, obviously Darth Vader himself is there, you fight Boba Fett in the game and other main characters like Princess Leia and Jabba the Hutt are also involved here. The story for a shooter of this time is vast, with levels having cut scenes between each level and going into the levels you’re given your objectives with reasons why you’re doing what you are.

Playing through, you’re only given a few lives originally, once these are depleted it’s game over. Nothing has been done here to help you with that, apart from having a few additional lives spread through the level. Where as previous games like Doom would start you on the level again with no weapons, Dark Forces level system is a nice different way of playing. It forces you not to run around like a mad lad, and to take care of yourself in your surrounding areas as death can come in an instant.

My only real gripe with the game is that the levels can be a bit confusing to navigate, the Weapons Research Facility was a maze of grey corridors, with lots of different heights to deal with, I fell to my death a few times and got lost for the best part of 20 minutes due to missing a single switch. Though most of these are due to 90’s level design, they don’t hold up too well. Though this can be attributed to me enjoying having my hand held through games more and more these days.

Dark Forces is another great addition to the Nightdive library, with the hopes that this is successful enough that we see Dark Forces 2 Jedi Knight and its expansion pack Mysteries of the Sith in the future.



Another great Nightdive remake!

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