This blog features SPOILERZ for Dark Forces II. Don’t read if you haven’t played. Use the time to play the game instead.
Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight holds a very special place in my heart. It was the first “big-kid” game my parents ever let me play. Before that it was Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and The Incredible Toon Machine. Screw Gobbos! I wanted to shoot aliens!
The Falling Ship is one of the greatest levels in a game, ever
The game was great. For those unfamiliar, here’s some background. Rebel agent Kyle Katarn intercepts a coded message from his father, which gives him a map to the lost Valley of the Jedi and a lightsaber. The game follows Kyle as he attempts to track down and stop the Dark Jedi Jerec from using the power of the valley for Unspeakable Evil.
As the game progresses, Kyle learns to use the Force. At first your powers are basic: running faster, jumping higher, and seeing in the dark. Eventually the skill tree branches out into the standard Light Side and Dark Side powers. Curiously enough, you can pick from both sides. If the goody-goody powers are a bit too wimpy (seriously, what does Blind even do?) then just come back to them later, after you’ve mastered Lightning and Choke. They’re not going anywhere.
Lightsabers and Force Powers. What more do you need?
The other thing about Jedi Knight is that there are usually civilians scattered throughout the levels. Depressed citizens of Nar Shadaa and Baron’s Hed will mutter things like “Mind your own business” and “Leave us in peace” if you bump into them. Ugnaughts at the refueling station will ignore you in favor of wrenches and pipes.
Many of these civilians happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and will find themselves inadvertently blasted or lightsabered during Kyle’s fight with the Empire. Occasionally one will be standing next to a grate that needs slashing, or an exploding barrel that needs… exploding. It’s great fun to push them off of endless cliffs or punch them to death with your bare hands or trap them under an elevator.
Pictured: A Civilian
So! You’ve got your awesome Lightning and Choke powers, and enough Force Stars to put towards Heal and Cloak which will undoubtedly help during the final boss fight. You’ve taken out garrisons of stormtroopers, and if a few innocent souls were killed, hey, it’s for the good of universe. Time to go stop Jerec!
One elevator ride later, and Kyle meets an unpleasant fellow named Maw. Maw taunts him, describing how Kyle’s father died. “I had the honor of taking his head and thrusting it on a spike for everyone to see!” he says. Kyle does the manly thing and kills Maw in cold blood.
He's actually collecting money for the Disabled Persons Foundation
Suddenly, Jerec arrives with Kyle’s love interest Jan. He says something to the effect of “You’ve taken your first step towards the Dark Side! Strike her down and your transformation will be complete!” The Force Power screen pops up, Light Side glowing green and Dark Side burning red.
“Well!” thinks you, so comfy behind the computer screen. “I’ll choose the Light Side this time around, and maybe later I’ll see how the evil decision goes.” But you realize something horrible, something terrible. You can’t select any of the Light powers. Your only option is to put more points into your evil side. You click OK. The cutscene resumes, Kyle cuts off Jan’s head, and the quest changes from Stopping Jerec and Saving the World to Killing Jerec and Taking the Power for Yourself.
At that point, there was no choice. By killing enough civilians, by putting enough points into the Dark Side, you had already made the decision to do The Wrong Thing.