You may look at Dark Forces and say to yourself "This looks exactly like Doom, and I already finished that in 1994!" Well, I'm not going to sugar-coat it - Dark Forces is a Doom Clone. But, like a lot of Doom clones such as Rise of the Triad, System Shock and Blood sitting in the corner, Dark Forces has all the credibility to be considered a classic among its brothers.
The primary reason for this is Dark Forces 'Star Wars' environment, which appeals greatly to both Star Wars fans and those that are not. Though all locations in the game are original, they do bear striking resemblances to various scenes of the films. The various Imperial bases you will find yourself in are similar to the interior of the Death Star, while levels that take place onboard spaceships will remind you of the introduction of A New Hope as Stormtroopers blast their way through the Tantive IV. On the topic of Stormtroopers, there is a certain satisfaction that you get as you decimate entire rooms of the white-clad bucketheads that does not have a parallel in Doom.
Also, you know how your melee weapon in Doom was a chainsaw? In Dark Forces, all you get is your bare fists. You may think this is a bit lame in comparison, but your mind soon changes once you uppercut an Imperial Officer, his hat flying off while his limp body flies across the room. Apparently, Kyle Katarn is Superman.
As you blast your way through the first couple of levels, you may begin to think to yourself, "jeez, this is kind of easy." This only lasts until you face your first Dark Trooper. Games may get visually dated over time, but you can tell a classic FPS from something outdated when the game thrusts you into a seriously tense, blood-pumping situation, as what happens when you come face to face with these death-dealing metal monstrosities. When I was a child I had the demo version, where the last thing you encountered was a Phase 1 Dark Trooper. I looked on with horror as it deflected every blaster shot I took before slicing me apart, showing its gaunt, nightmarish body in full effect. I made sure that I would show it who was boss later on, but I didn't anticipate how difficult the Phase 2 Troopers were!
Unfortunately, the difficulty only does so much to prolong the duration of the game. I finished every level on Medium difficulty as well as rerunning a few early missions on Hard, and as evidenced by my hours on record, it wasn't that long. Doom is definitely a longer game.
The other major gripe I have is how the gmae handles looking up and down. Originally, forward and backward movement was controlled by the mouse, though the Steam release binds these to the W and S keys to conform to modernity. Unfortunately, that means that the mouse Y-Axis has no use, and there was no way I could find to bind the vertical look axis to the mouse. This meant that I had to use Page Up and Page Down to look up and down. There are few instances where you absolutely have to use it, but the inconvenience of it is quite jarring.
That being said, my memories of playing Dark Forces are dominated by positive ones. It's a true classic that has stood the test of time, and provides good old FPS excitement in generous quantities, which is more than can be said for a lot of the modern FPS releases. So, it's up to you now - Would you rather shell out another considerable piece of your wallet for another repackaging of Call of Duty, or get some old gold action that'll keep you gripped to your seat for less than it costs to use to us public transport?