Monday 1 April 2024

Star Wars: Dark Forces Review (Switch)


There was a time when Star Wars games were few and far between. Recently though, we’ve had a glut of them coming to the Switch. Jedi Knight two and three have already made their way onto the system and now the origin of the series has been given a new coat of paint and sent out into the world. What is most significant here is that aside from a poor PS1 conversion there hasn’t really been a way to play Dark Forces outside of the PC.

Dark Forces is very much in the vein of the first-person shooters of the time. That being it’s basically Doom with a Star Wars graphic set on it. Levels require a lot of searching for switches and key cards and work like mazes. There are of course a significant number of Storm Troopers to blast while you are searching around, and all the appropriate sound effects are in place to make it as Star Wars centric as possible.

Simply labelling Dark Forces as a Doom clone is not entirely accurate though. Doom very much kept everything on a level, while Dark Forces levels move up and down a lot and this adds a much welcomed sense of scale. You can also jump which occasionally results in some awkward and terrifying platform sections. These sections are made all the more nerve raking by the fact you can’t save inside of the levels. On the standard difficulty setting you are issued three lives. More can be picked up but if you lose them all then it’s right back to the start. That’s something you are going to want to avoid as well as some of these levels are huge.

It's interesting that with all the new additions, the graphical upgrade, the slick frame rate that you still can’t save. We understand why but what would have been very helpful would have been to at least put a quick save feature in. The levels are so large, complex and labyrinthine that some will likely take new players well over an hour to complete. With this in mind it seems a strange oversight.

The most helpful addition to the game is without doubt the gyro aiming. Unlike games like Doom, you do need to be fairly accurate when shooting. It isn’t just enemies but switches and traps that need blasting, so being able to move the target smoothly and in small measures is an absolute must that makes things much more enjoyable.

It’s difficult to know how newcomers will gel with Dark Forces. If you are a fan of first-person shooters and have blasted your way through Doom and Quake without much trouble then chances are that Dark Forces will be right up your street. It’s not as slick as the Quake games but there is certainly more here worth playing than just a chunk of Star Wars nostalgia.

Overall, Star Wars: Dark Forces is a solid first-person shooter that has been restored and brought up to date as best as it possibly could be. All the upgrades and additions are welcome and add to the experience in a positive way. The bones of the game remain very much entrenched in the era the game was released though. This is very much still a retro experience that you are going to need to be either a hardcore FPS fan or a pretty big Star Wars one to fully enjoy. We’re very glad to see games like this from the Star Wars back catalogue reappear with so much love taken to restore them and can only hope Jedi Knight and a few more are going to appear soon.

Overall 8/10

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