It might be 26 years old, but Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 is still a banger. It’s so good, in fact, that we were still singing its praises (opens in new tab) as recently as 2020, praising its lightsaber-swinging and movement. But there’s no getting around it, Dark Forces 2 is an ugly game by today’s standards, which you’ll only notice if you actually manage to get the thing running on modern machines. Thankfully, someone’s decided to remake the whole thing in Unreal Engine 4.
The fan remake comes from a developer named Ruppertle, who mostly tinkers with Arma mods when they aren’t remaking ’90s PC classics from scratch, and you can currently play through two levels from the original game in it. On top of that, there’s four wave-based survival levels (opens in new tab), and a sandbox mode. Oh, and a 3D model viewer, in case you want to sit and marvel at the poly count for a while.
It looks very well done indeed. Even as someone who’s not played much of the original Dark Forces 2, the video showcasing the remake’s version of its first level—Double-Cross on Nar Shaddaa (opens in new tab)—is tickling memory centres of my brain that haven’t activated since I was six years old.
It’s a remarkably robust showing for a fan remake of a classic game, a species of project that’s usually heavy on promises and light on offerings. Making a game in your free time, often while corralling a global team of volunteers, tends to prove too much for even the most dedicated fans to tolerate. So while I won’t bet any money that Ruppertle’s project will eventually make its way through all of Dark Forces 2’s 21 levels, I have to hand it to them for even making it this far.
You can download Ruppertle’s remake for free over on their Patreon page (opens in new tab). And if the thought of messing with a single jagged polygon of the 1997 game seems outrageous, you could always try out OpenJKDF2 (opens in new tab), an open-source reimplementation of the original game’s engine that should let you play it on modern systems without much anguish.