Star Wars: Dark Forces is a first-person shooter video game developed and published by LucasArts. It was released in 1995 for DOS and Apple Macintosh, and in 1996 for the PlayStation. The storyline of Dark Forces is set in the Star Wars fictional universe and follows the character Kyle Katarn, a mercenary working on behalf of the Rebel Alliance. He discovers the Empire's "Dark Trooper Project", which involves the development of a series of powerful new battle droids and power-armored stormtroopers.
Dark Forces uses the Jedi game engine, which was developed specifically for the game. The engine adds gameplay features to the first-person shooter genre which were uncommon at the time of release. These features include level designs with multiple floors and the ability to look up and down.
Critics gave very favorable reviews for the DOS and Macintosh versions of Dark Forces, but not for the PlayStation version. The DOS and Macintosh versions were praised for the level design and technological advances. The PlayStation version was criticized for having poor graphics and slow frame rates, reducing the playability of the game. A sequel to Dark Forces, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II followed in 1997.
Star Destroyer interior, Jabba the Hutt's space yacht, and the planet Coruscant, where the player must infiltrate a computer vault.
Dark Forces gameplay expands on the FPS standards set by Doom (1993) and features gameplay elements that are now common in the FPS genre. These include the ability to look up and down, duck, and jump.A variety of power-ups are made available to the player, including health, shields, weapons and ammunition.The game also features several non-combat items to aid the player. The head lamp illuminates the area in front of the player, but will reveal the player's position to enemies in dark rooms. Ice cleats provide traction in icy areas, and an air mask protects the player from areas with toxic atmosphere. Many inventory items are powered by batteries (separate from weapon ammunition types) which can be found around the levels.
For combat, the player may use fists, explosive land mines and thermal detonators, as well as blasters and other ranged weapons. Gameplay leans towards ranged combat, although some enemies have melee attacks such as punching, biting, and by using axes. All player weapons except the fist require ammunition which can be collected in power-ups. Many weapons offer an alternate fire mode. The player has health and shields which are damaged by enemy attacks and some environmental hazards, and may be replenished through power-ups.
In addition to combat, Dark Forces provides physical obstacles for the character, such as jumping from ledges or traversing across flowing rivers,and includes multi-step puzzles such as mazes controlled by switches.
The storyline in Dark Forces follows Kyle Katarn, a mercenary employed by the Rebel Alliance. Before the game begins, Katarn was a student learning the skills required to follow in his father's career of agricultural mechanics. While he was studying at an academy, he was told by officials that Rebels had killed his parents. The pain from this caused him to enlist in the Imperial army.
Subsequently, Katarn met Jan Ors, a Rebel working undercover as a double agent in the Empire. Ors uncovered the real information about Katarn's parents' death; that the Empire was really behind it. The Empire eventually discovered that Ors was working for the Rebels and she was taken prisoner. Katarn helped her escape, thus ending his career with the Empire. Katarn soon became a mercenary and, due to his hatred of the Empire for killing his parents, he began to take on jobs from the Rebel Alliance.Dark Forces begins with Katarn being recruited by the Rebel Alliance to recover the plans to the Death Star, a heavily armed space station capable of destroying an entire planet. The Alliance use the plans to find a weakness in and then destroy the Death Star.
A year later the Alliance hires Katarn again, this time to investigate an assault on one of their bases by a new type of Imperial soldier. His investigation reveals the Imperial Dark Trooper project, led by General Rom Mohc. His mission to stop the project takes him to the sewers of Anoat City, where he captures Moff Rebus, an Imperial weapons specialist who developed the Dark Trooper weapon. Rebus' interrogation leads Katarn to a weapons research facility in the mountains of Fest and the Gromas mines where minerals are extracted for the Dark Troopers.
After learning of Crix Madine's (a former Imperial Commander, who had defected to the Alliance) capture and imminent execution, Kyle proceeds to a high security detention center on Orinackra to rescue him. Madine provides the Rebel Alliance with information about the smuggling of Dark Trooper materials, leading Katarn to investigate the Ramsees Hed docking port on Cal-Seti. He then destroys a robotics facility on the icy planet Anteevy, the second stage of the Dark Trooper production line. After being captured by Jabba the Hutt and having to escape his ship, Katarn infiltrates a computer vault on Coruscant which reveals the location of the Ergo fuel station, the final stage in the smuggling route. He masquerades as a smuggler, gaining access to the Super Star Destroyer Executor, which brings him finally to the Arc Hammer starship, the headquarters of General Mohc's Dark Trooper project, where he successfully destroys the operation and kills Mohc.