I've said this before but Dark Forces is probably my favorite Doom clone. It brought the Star Wars universe with all its diverse locations and creatures into a two-and-a-half dimensional game with an engine capable of faking 3D environments and set pieces. It didn't and still doesn't get near enough respect.
Let's get the negatives out the way first. Though there are 10 weapons, nearly all of them fall into two categories; repeating lasers and explosives more likely to blow yourself up rather than the enemy. An enemy type, the Grans, are armed with their fists and grenades, and they throw those grenades with laser precision. They are easily the most annoying enemy in the game and they come in ridiculous numbers. One of the levels takes place on Jabba's space cruiser and that level is filled with Grans and nowhere near enough health or shields. The absolute worst level in the game is the third one, Anoat City. Really too early for a level as un-fun as Anoat City, which is a pain in the balls that begins with a switch-flipping sewer puzzle and ends with platform jumping followed by a swarm of health-sapping enemies. The whole level is filled with enemies of the health-sapping variety and by the end of it, after you've performed the olympic triple-jump marathon, you're either dangerously low on ammo or (in my case) completely out and stuck running a gauntlet to the end. And the final, minorest of quibbles, some of the level music (which is fantastic and ramps up appropriately when you're in the action) repeats itself.
Now that I've taken a dump on one of my favorite games, why don't we explore its merits! There's a fantastic variety to the levels. Imperial bases, desolate moons, hazy mines, scummy bars, and the ubiquitous ice planet are just examples. One minute you're crawling through a disgusting sewer and the next you're blasting stormtroopers in an Imperial detention facility. The variety extends to the creatures you encounter along the way. Of course there's stormtroopers and Imperial officers, then there's aliens, droids, and mindless monsters. You do spend an inordinate amount of time blasting stormtroopers and those damned Grans but the other enemies of the game are by no means underrepresented.
Though I list the lack of variety in the weapons as one of the game's detractors, the weapons all feel sufficiently destructive and Dark Forces has one of my favorite video game weapons of all time: the Stouker concussion rifle. It's one of the most powerful weapons in the game so you don't get it until you're three-fourths finished with it but when you do it's like the heavens open up and you can hear a choir of angels praising your new implement of destruction. It is neither repeating laser nor explosive. It's basically a rocket launcher, minus the rocket. You fire it, with an amazingly satisfying sound, and things in the distance blow up in a blast of white-blue. No projectile, just a flash and and explosion. If you fire it at something too close to yourself, it gets you too, but it's a risk well worth taking. You can clear whole rooms of enemies in one or two shots of the concussion rifle and while it only uses 4 units of ammo, it comes with 100 each time it's dropped. Oh yes, you get the Stouker concussion rifle only after feeling its effects a couple times at the hands of your enemies. I absolutely love this weapon and though it's been replicated in Jedi Knight and Jedi Knight 2, it never feels as good as it does in Dark Forces.
Dark Forces isn't all action and no brains though. There's a number of rather enjoyable level puzzles. Breaking out a prisoner in a maximum security in the Imperial detention and gaining access to an Imperial computer vault stand out as two of the better ones, though as said before, Anoat City has an absolutely ridiculous switch-flipping puzzle in the sewers and that one sucks.
Everything about Dark Forces feels right. The movement, controls, weapons, enemies, levels, even the lack of lightsaber. About the only thing missing is a multiplayer mode, which would've been awesome, but the game stands on its own without it. Any Star Wars or action game fan would be remiss to pass up playing through Dark Forces.
Lucasarts is coming around on the Steam boat (ha!) and have slowly started putting their backcatalog of PC games up for sale. The first offering was a selection of their older adventure games, but now their starting to get into my favorites.
I absolutely love Dark Forces. It is a fantastic Doom clone. Jedi Knight is also amazing for it's enormous and creative level design. Mysteries of the Sith is the expansion pack to Jedi Knight but I haven't played much of it. Jedi Outcast is the sequel to Jedi Knight and is 100% completely awesome once you get past the first couple of lightsaber-less levels. They are the absolute rock bottom pit of the game and once you get the lightsaber and force powers it gets about a billion times better! It's definitely worth drudging through the crap at the beginning of the game. I've never played Jedi Academy. It's supposedly pretty fun.
Now if we can just get TIE Fighter, X-Wing, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and X-Wing Alliance on Steam. I may even get crap like Rebel Assault if it's on there!
There's a hole in front of division headquarters. About three weeks ago a mass email was sent that said that the section of road in front of division headquarters was closed until further notice to repair a sinkhole. A sinkhole. Not that there's no sinkholes on Fort Campbell but the ones I have seen are no more than two feet deep and maybe three feet around. All manner of construction equipment has been milling around in front of the division building for three weeks. They're still doing repairs.
This division headquarters is basically brand new. It was completed last year. I know some jobs have been overtasked and undermanned but you'd think that when building a brand new, rather expensive division headquarters, someone would've consulted some engineers about the structural integrity of the land within 50 meters of the building. Maybe put some dirt in that sinkhole before dropping a large building right next to it. These sorts of things would make sense, right?
Unless it's not a sinkhole at all.