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27th August 2018: The Darkest Forces

Just recently Scoob and I have been going through Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, and playing that pretty old FPS got me thinking about a really old FPS, in the shape of Dark Forces. I had played this not long after it came out in the 90s, but never finished it. Last time I looked at the game, someone was working on a promising mod for it called DarkXL, which made the game a little more up to date and added in proper mouse controls. It was my plan to wait for that mod to be completed, but unfortunately it doesn't look like it's had any development for some years.
Out of curiosity, I did some searching as to whether there were any other ways to play the original game a bit more comfortably. As luck would have it, many people had reported success using a tool called GlovePIE, which makes it possible to play with the mouse.
So after a great deal of tinkering to get Dark Forces, DOSBox, GlovePIE and Fraps all configured so that I could play and take screenshots, I once again stepped into Kyle's boots, around two decades after first doing so.

This was a massive nostalgia trip, and though I couldn't remember all of the levels and locations in the game, many of them brought back memories of playing it as a teenager. Without a doubt, playing it with the mouse helped a great deal, and it was nowhere near as awkward as trying to play it on the keyboard. Yet, the game does not have a targeting reticule, and instead Kyle kind-of auto-aims at enemies in his line of sight. This means sometimes you can try and shoot at one enemy, but Kyle picks another and your shots go off in a totally different direction. Also, it makes it impossible to lead your targets when they are moving, as Kyle always aims at where they are at that moment. It made fighting flying enemies a lot harder such as the Dark Troopers and Boba Fett.

It's a trap!

It's a trap!

Boy I remembered these things

Boy I remembered these things

Sneakin' up on some fool

Sneakin' up on some fool

Silly Imperial falls down the stairs

Silly Imperial falls down the stairs

How big was that bomb I just planted?

How big was that bomb I just planted?

Shooting a Stormtrooper in the nads

Shooting a Stormtrooper in the nads

I thought at first that the game seemed really easy, and I picked up enough spare lives to max out at 9. Then I got captured by Jabba the Hutt and had to fight his Krayt Dragon. I didn't think I was supposed to fight it hand to hand so instead I was running around trying to escape somehow. By the time I gave up and just punched the thing in the face a bunch, I had lost 5 lives and was down to 4. From that point on, the game became a lot more challenging, and included some shady level design such as placing sneaky enemies waiting to ambush you as you go up elevators and such. My lives were slowly whittled away and I only had two remaining when I went against final boss General Mohc. Luckily, that guy gave me no trouble compared to his Dark Trooper underlings, and I was able to pull out the win.

Pretty damn stoked to have finally finished this game, as it's one of a handful that have hung over my head for years. It also means that I've completed the entire Jedi Knight series featuring Kyle, at long last. Cool.

Can Stormtroopers even piss in that armour?

Can Stormtroopers even piss in that armour?

Probably the most frustrating part of the game

Probably the most frustrating part of the game

Putting Boba Fett down

Putting Boba Fett down

This conveyor belt system is where I got to in the 90s

This conveyor belt system is where I got to in the 90s

Duelling with a Dark Trooper

Duelling with a Dark Trooper

Mohc gets smoked

Mohc gets smoked

23rd May 2015: Mysteries Of The Mysteries

It's taken a little longer than I hoped, but I've managed to complete the expandalone to Jedi Knight, called Mysteries Of The Sith. In this one you take on the role of Mara Jade, probably my favourite expanded universe character, as she goes about her business helping the New Republic and later bringing Kyle back from the dark side.

Unsurprisingly it's very similar to the original game, though with some advantages and disadvantages. The main problem was the different cutscenes. Not only were they rendered very badly using the in-game engine, it seems they were compressed with a different codec, and they would not play right on my computer. This led me to watching them all on Youtube afterwards, so I could finally see what the whole story was about. This in turn led to another issue: just why was the game called Mysteries Of The Sith? I don't seem to remember any mysteries concerning the Sith in the whole game, unless it refers to the puzzles you have to solve to make your way through the Sith temple in the last couple of levels, which I doubt it does.
Weird.

Other than a few rare times, I did not have as much trouble navigating the maps as I did last month playing DF2. This could be down to me actually paying more attention to the locations, but I'm guessing it was down to simpler map design, which I appreciated. My two staple Force powers from Jedi Outcast were also added in this game, being saber throw and push, but neither one of these early versions proved to be very useful at all.

Though I was happy to play these two games, the combination of them being a little old and frustrating, and my tastes being different these days, probably means I'll never replay them as I did with both Outcast & Academy.

AT-ST takes it on the chin

AT-ST takes it on the chin

A wall of lava?

A wall of lava?

Synchronised death from the Gamorreans

Synchronised death from the Gamorreans

Another saber sniffer

Another saber sniffer

Hey I know that ship

Hey I know that ship

Oh no! The rancor!

Oh no! The rancor!

Is this droid wearing a dress?

Is this droid wearing a dress?

A Noghri shows off his guns to Mara

A Noghri shows off his guns to Mara

Stop hitting yourself. Silly Mara.

Stop hitting yourself. Silly Mara.

I found you Kyle. Time to end this.

I found you Kyle. Time to end this.

29th April 2015: Gimme My Lightsaber

Back in the early 2000s, there was a period of about 6 months where I played the Star Wars game Jedi Outcast pretty much exclusively, and with a few of my friends would play match after match of LAN multiplayer. We even added our own skins and voices, and edited the game's files to make the bots act how we wanted them to. I also really liked its sequel, Jedi Academy, but only for its single player. I found its multiplayer maps far less interesting, and didn't like it that I could no longer control how the bots behaved. Stormtroopers with Force powers? No thanks.
About six months ago, I had a bit of a hankering to catch up with Kyle, and tried to play the original Dark Forces and Jedi Outcast again. Unfortunately, I couldn't get either of them to work the way I wanted them to on newer hardware and operating systems.
But with the fairly recent release of Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 on GOG, I got my chance to play the only game in the series that I'd never played before.

There were certainly a few annoying things about the game. For a start, it would not play on my Windows 7 machine. Every time I tried the mouse would lock up and Kyle would get stuck constantly running forward. So I had to install it on an older XP computer, and luckily everything worked this time.
I had some trouble with the movement, which felt awkward. Kyle feels like he's running around on an ice rink. On the many levels where precise jumping is involved this proved a major problem. Jumping from ledge to ledge at times was also hampered if I even so much as brushed anything else in the environment, as I would rebound off of it like a rubber ball and be sent in a completely different direction. I don't remember Outcast being like that, but maybe I'm remembering through rose-tinted glasses.
There were one or two strange bugs or graphics glitches, the biggest of which was when I fought the first Dark Jedi, who actually fell through the floor and vanished. That was interesting.
The main problem I had though was level design. Some of the maps were really annoying to navigate, and I spent far too long finding switches or hidden holes to drop down into. I guess I'm just really out of practise with this kind of game.

Another little issue I had, which was not so much a problem but more of a preference, was that my two favourite Force powers had not been put into the series yet. Not being able to throw my saber at people or push them off of ledges was a bit of a let down.
I also missed the more complex saber duelling of the sequels, but just in general the saber didn't seem all that important in this game except for when fighting the bosses. It was also a bit confusing that the direction of the saber swing was opposite to the direction button you were pressing at the time, not the right way round like in Outcast and Academy.

Concerning the story, I would have liked more of a build up to Kyle being able to use his powers, as there is no explanation about how this is possible at all. He just receives the saber and can suddenly deflect laser bolts and learn Force powers. There should have been at least one level where he is taught some basics, just like there was in both Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy.
And as much as I like Jan, how many times does she get captured? Sheesh.

But nevermind, it's all just me being picky. Overall, I actually enjoyed it, and have been kind of hooked these last few days trying to get through it.
I'll be doing Mysteries Of The Sith next I guess, and I just saw both Outcast and Academy have been released on GOG today...

Yay! It's Kyle!

Yay! It's Kyle!

Yay! It's Jan!

Yay! It's Jan!

Ninja Gran

Ninja Gran

Rodians are stupid

Rodians are stupid

This dude hovers above me somehow

This dude hovers above me somehow

Oh this is not gonna end well...

Oh this is not gonna end well...

Dem pit stains

Dem pit stains

Got me a saber, bitches!

Got me a saber, bitches!

This dude seems oddly addicted to saber sniffing

This dude seems oddly addicted to saber sniffing

Game says I can't fit through here

Game says I can't fit through here

This Stormtrooper needs a hand

This Stormtrooper needs a hand

My first Dark Jedi enemy practising his diving skills

My first Dark Jedi enemy practising his diving skills

These Stormtroopers look more like owls

These Stormtroopers look more like owls

He's a big bugger

He's a big bugger

Probe droid goes for a swim

Probe droid goes for a swim

This was my fave duel of the game

This was my fave duel of the game

Kill it Kyle! Kill it quick!

Kill it Kyle! Kill it quick!

The end battle commences

The end battle commences

7th October 2014: Dark Forces

Another game I thought I could quickly blast through and tick off the completed list was Star Wars Dark Forces. I got to the last level of this back on my original PC in the 90s, but never managed to beat it. Recently I found there was a mod for the game called DarkXL which made it a bit more up to date. After installing the game using DOSBox, I was soon playing the DarkXL version. However, I came up against several problems which stopped me in my tracks. Firstly, the game's very loud music can not be turned down or off using the mod, and also the graphics were incredibly dark with no brightness or gamma control in sight. Also, reading the t'interwebs, there are many bugs with the mod that make the game impossible to finish anyway.

So instead, I booted up the classic game on its own, but had issues there also, particularly the lack of mouse control and the lack of targeting reticule. Just how did I play like that back in the day?
Hopefully, DarkXL will get updated, as it is still in alpha. If it does, I'll be back to this in the future, but for now it's going back to its forgotten corner where it belongs...

Here, have one of my red diamonds

Here, have one of my red diamonds

Darth Vader argues with Colonel Mustard

Darth Vader argues with Colonel Mustard

Sit down nerd

Sit down nerd