Sunday, September 25, 2016

Star Wars: Dark Forces - 2/20 hours

First things first, allow me to vent a little:

What the hell, a fucking sewer level! What is this shit?

Thank you. It feels good to get that off my chest.

I don't want to complain too much about Dark Forces, because I can recognize that, given its limitations (being an FPS from 1995), it's actually a well-put-together game. Movement is smooth and the controls do what they're supposed to do. There's some good voice acting and animation in the cutscenes, even if the plot is your typical Star Wars expanded universe folderol.

The main problems I have with it stem almost entirely from its age. You can't look up or down. There's no minimap. The hallways look really similar to each other and it can be hard to navigate through them. All stuff I was expecting before I started.

The only complaint I have that is particular to Dark Forces is about the damned infrared visor. I don't know what was going on in the 90s that caused game developers to experiment with low light conditions in games (perhaps the invention of new lighting models), but Deus Ex did the same thing - subject you to darkness and then make your vision dependent on a limited power source. Maybe it's just one of those things that only seems obvious in retrospect, but video games are a visual medium (it's right there in the name), so a game mechanic that takes away a player's sight is already on shaky ground (though one of my favorite Donkey Kong Country levels toggles the lights off and on at period intervals, requiring you to do half your platforming by instinct and memory), but when you tie it to something that can run out, you're basically giving the player a second, less-interesting health bar. I wound up quitting the game when I exhausted all my infrared visor batteries and could no longer navigate through the dark parts of the sewer level.

Aside from that, Dark Forces is fine. It's not how I would ordinarily choose to spend a week, but I'm not in agony or anything. It's interesting from a historical perspective and so far, except for me getting hopeless lost in the sewers, it's been pretty easy. I think if I can get past this hump, I may enjoy myself . . . provided this is not the sort of game that thinks its clever to make its players get lost in a maze.

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