Technology

Dark Forces: Remaster gives you a cleaned-up 4K view of an absolute classic


First-person view of a blaster mowing down Storm Troopers
Enlarge / A sideways grip on a rifle-style blaster is unlikely to provide higher accuracy, but it does, in fact, make you feel like a badass rebel.

Nightdive Studios/LucasArts

A wealth of first-person shooters from the period’s golden era have seen remasters lately. Now comes one of the true greats: Star Wars: Dark Forces Remaster.

Nightdive Studios, which has been showing everybody how to do justice to classic shooter upgrades recently with its remasters of Quake II and System Shock, is using that same KEX Engine to give just enough modernization, but not too much, to the LucasArts title that was even better than its Doom-but-it’s-Star-Wars promise.

In the notes and footage of its reveal trailer, Nightdive promises 4K/120 fps gameplay, modern gamepad support, trophies and achievements, remastered cutscenes, and, of course, blasting Stormtroopers that have markedly better aim on a monitor than they do on film. The remaster is “coming soon” to PS4/5, Xbox One/X/S, Nintendo Switch, and Steam on PC, with “a release date announcement later this year.”

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When LucasArts shut down in 2013, following Disney’s purchase of George Lucas’ empire, Ars’ Lee Hutchinson offered his remembrance of Dark Forces:

Dark Forces was a fine shooter in its own right and looked amazing, but that Star Wars license rocketed its appeal right up into outer space. Dark Forces promised something irresistible to any geek: the ability to jump into the Star Wars universe and run around. Released in 1995, the game was LucasArts’ first foray into the nascent FPS genre. The company set the bar awfully high.

As Lee noted, and which fans likely remember, there were only hints of Jedi-dom in Dark Forces; you never got your hands on a lightsaber, and you never force-pushed anyone off a ledge. The later Jedi Knight games fixed that. Dark Forces also faced the same memory and texture-resolution challenges as other shooters of its time, but it had the advantage of its setting. Imperial ships and bases had always looked stark, drab, and oftentimes quite empty in the Star Wars films (also due to certain constraints). So when a TIE Fighter hangar challenges you with only a handful of goons in a sterile space that looks like it could hold 300, that’s not a flaw; that’s George Lucas’ budget-minded used-future aesthetic!

Larry Kuperman of Nightdive told IGN that the game should still feel like the original felt, and that means difficult. The title should be “popularly priced,” Kuperman said, which indicates something well below the typical AAA $60/$70 mark.

We’ll keep an eye out for the first signs of a release date on this one. And we’ll bide our time until Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast makes it into the industry’s remaster/revenue queue.