Verfasst: 12. Februar
What is it with Nar Shadda? The place has featured at least three times over the course of the Dark Forces Saga and once in KOTOR II, and it was the weakest part of the game every time. There's just something about the Smuggler's Moon that lends itself to rubbish level design.
Anyway, after checking a few guides on getting the damn thing to run, I finally got Dark Forces II to play. The game starts out a bit rocky, as most of your ammunition is scavanaged off of your fallen enemies, an ineffective strategy when about half of your enemies come at you with good old fisticuffs. This led to a few occasions when I had to take out a dozen enemies with six blaster shots and my own punches, and sadly it seems Kyle hasn't been working out quite like he used to as the fists that could once drop a Kell Dragon are barely enough to put down passing thugs.
Fortunately once you get off Nar Shadda, enemies are universally packing heat, and the game starts to come to life. Ugly, early full-3D life, but life nonetheless. The level design is somewhere between the original Dark Force's nonlinear approach and Jedi Outcast's straight shot from start to finish, and manages to have the strengths and weaknesses of both. The levels are truly impressive in size, and lead to some memorable setpieces (most dramatic, if relatively brief, of which is a scene when you're left trying to sprint for the hangar bay of a ship in freefall), but they also follow a highly specific thread of advancement that, while not so bad as Dark Force's tendancy to block off progression to people who can't use sideways moon logic, still can leave you poking around a level for half an hour looking for the solitary path forward. Perhaps they felt the necessity due to the actual presence of maps in the game, but the locations beat out Jedi Outcasts in that their layout actually seems to have something to do with the location you're alledgedly visiting (for example, a starship whose rooms are actually laid out in the shape of a starship).
However, despite the strengths I mention, I ultimately can't recommend the game because its sprawling design isn't quite as good as Dark Forces, and its storyline isn't as good as Jedi Outcast's, lacking relatable characters and quite often much of a plot at all. For example, once you aquire a lightsaber from your father's droid, you start using Force powers without training, or indeed any exposition that you had any Force potential at all (the lightsaber isn't even your father's, so a hereditary connection isn't implied either). Just "here's a lightsaber, start using superpowers." Not to mention the lightsaber is basically useless in this game. Sure it can deflect blaster shots if you're facing in the right direction, but I ultimatley wound up using my normal weapons for 99% of the game, only pulling out my lightsaber to cut open grates and fight the bosses.
Speaking of which, apart from the game's tendancy to dump you somewhere with not much more than a cursory mention of why you were there (such as letting me run around in a fuel depot for an hour before I actually realize that I'm trying to use it to sneak onto a ship through the fuel lines), the bosses are also generally pretty weak. Unlike the first enemy you make in the game, the sleazy protocol droid 8t88, who obvious can't put up anything resembling a fight, all of the bosses are the main villain Jerec's Dark Jedi cronies, who mostly just stand around in the background of expository cutscenes until they randomly turn up at the end of certain levels for a boss fight apiece. Who are they? Dunno. A smug twit, a domanatrix, a big-guy-little-guy alien duo, and a giggling Twi'lek who I'm reasonably certain was brain damaged. That's about the extent of characterization you get. As for the fight themselves, they weren't as luck-based as Jedi Outcast and Academy's Dark Jedi fights, but they gave very little indication of how well you were doing so I usually just jumped around clicking my very slow attack button until the bad guy fell down.
Ultimately, between the compatibility issues with modern machines, the weak plot, and the occasionally frustrating gameplay (looking at you, rocket Stormtroopers), I can't really recommend bothering with this entry just to enjoy its middling-quality level design.