It was a Star Wars game by LucasArts released back in 1995, and it just celebrated its twentieth anniversary on February 28. I feel I need to share a review I posted on Facebook and hopefully spark a discussion with those who remember this fantastic game. To fill you in, I just completed my first ever PC gaming session of the game, having downloaded it on GOG.com. I was never able to install the original PC version on my computer because I didn't play it back in 1995, not jumping into the series until the release of its sequel in 1997; and as a DOS game, my specs were always a little too high to get the game to install and play correctly. As a result, I started playing the PlayStation port in the early 2000s and have been playing it ever since, finally having the opportunity to play the original PC version this year. Below are my thoughts on the experience.
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Just finished playing Star Wars: Dark Forces, in honor of the game's 20th anniversary. Now I feel it is time for a game review. For the next few minutes you will sit in silence while I wax nostalgic.
Now I know what everyone was talking about when they said you've not experienced this game's full glory until you've played the original PC version. After years of playing what I now realize was an inferior PlayStation port, I must say that the experience pales in comparison to the PC original. Despite the annoyance of not being able to remap the controls or having to use the keyboard to jump or crouch or look up or down (that last one took me half the game to figure out) because these functions were not on my gamepad (and yes, I tried setting aside the controller and giving the good ol' keyboard-and-mouse team a go, with disastrous results), there was something undeniably magical about this play-through that has been lacking in my PlayStation sessions up till now. Maybe it's the fact that the frame rate wasn't disturbed or the sound was crisper.
I'll probably never quite put my finger on it, but this time truly felt like I was playing the game for the first time again, an experience lost to me for so many years because I didn't jump on the wagon back in 1995.
One thing that really struck me was how much I appreciated the soundtrack this time around. Yes, it is an inferior midi medley (say that ten times fast) of its orchestrated counterparts, but what Dark Forces did was create its own original scores, intermixed with John Williams' original Star Wars themes. While the series would go on to showcase Williams' iconic scores in later Jedi Knight games, in all their orchestrated beauty--which, don't get me wrong, added immensely to the experience--I really wish they could have created more original music as Dark Forces did. General Mohc's theme--the main theme of the game--that ominous anthem, seemed second only to the Imperial March. Kyle's theme--a stark contrast to Mohc's--would have made for an excellent fully-orchestrated piece had it transferred over into the Jedi Knight games. And can you imagine what those games may have been like had the villains--Jerec, Desann, and Tavion--had their own original themes?
Even with the sequel, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight (I still prefer the title as the opening crawl within the game reveals it rather than what appears on the cover box and the way it was marketed: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II), occupying in my heart the coveted place of Favorite Game Ever (which, God willing, I will be starting tomorrow, after a long hiatus from the last time I played it circa 2006 or 2007, and am quite looking forward to the experience that never gets old), I have to look at Dark Forces with a newfound reverence for doing things that would set the stage for years to come. Now, I feel, I have finally felt what so many PC gamers felt twenty years ago. Better late than never.
In other news, I seem to have messed up my spacebar. It still works fine when I press it, but it is sunken in and is annoying.
Anyway, good night, and may the Force be with you all.