Due to the release of The Force Awakens, I decided to take a look back at the Star Wars video games I had played in my formative years. I believe it can certainly be said that Star Wars video games are some of the greatest and richest parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Star Wars Legends).
Many rail on this game as being an example of what was wrong with The Phantom Menace however, I always found the podrace scene to be rather enthralling and intense. Inspired by the chariot race from Ben-Hur, the podrace scene was instantly captivating and spectacular save for the rather bad performance by Jake Lloyd. Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer successfully replicated the fast-paced feel of that scene with its supremely fast gameplay and quick reaction times in order to stay on the track. With a variety of tracks and playable racers, this game marks one of the few racing games I have ever enjoyed.
Often hailed as the first of the “good” Star Wars games, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was the game in Lucasfilm’s attempt to cr eate an entire multimedia lineup for a movie that didn’t exist. Following Dash Rendar, a mercenary turned Rebel sympathizer, as he engages in an adventure to save Princess Leia from Prince Xizor, leader of the Black Sun crime syndicate. Featuring more immersive gameplay than any Star Wars game before it, Shadows of the Empire remains a time honored classic.
Following in the footsteps of Shadows of the Empire, Dark Forces was another early game that sought to set itself apart from the film saga. Set before A New Hope and following Kyle Katarn, a former Imperial-turned-Mercenary, as he embarks on his Rebel-sponsored job of recovering the first Death Star plans. Once complete, Katarn is hired for a second job to uncover the hidden plans to the Dark Trooper project before they can be used to wipe out the Rebel Alliance. Whilst the gameplay is certainly inspired by the Doom franchise, there is enough differences in gameplay, along with an unmistakable Star Wars style, that makes this game still entertaining although immensely difficult.
While much can be said for Traveller’s Tales’s entire lineup of Lego games, none could surpass the nostalgia and general fun that came with Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Following fairly closely with the plots of the six main films, Lego Star Wars provided brick building fun along with general entertainment and silly references that would make even the most hardcore fan chuckle.
Taking the engine from Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, Galactic Battlegrounds is the Star Wars RTS to end all. Several attempts at Star Wars RTSs have been made with Empire at War or the much derided Force Commander but none could match up with the simple goodness that appeared in Galactic Battlegrounds. Certainly not the best RTS and certainly no where near the level of Starcraft, Galactic Battlegrounds still provides a good strategy experience to those looking for it.
5. Star Wars: Battlefront
While many point to Battlefront II as thebetter of the two games, I always preferred the first since it was always truer to its premise. Battlefront II introduced too many mechanics I thought betrayed the original idea: lots of normal troops fighting it out on the battlefield. The original Battlefront didn’t feel the need to add pointless space combat or the inclusion of over-powered Jedi to still feel incredibly fun and immersive. While certainly not the best Star Wars game, Battlefront is still one of those games that knew what it was trying to do and accomplished it incredibly well.
Featuring what I would call the best in Star Wars fighter combat, Rogue Squadron starred Luke as he commanded the titular Rebel fighter unit on several missions against the Empire. While certainly appearing with dated graphics and control scheme, Rogue Squadron still features the most impressive variety of ships which vary in flight and combat abilities. This is also one of the few games to feature an accurate portrayal of using a speeder’s tow cable to take down an AT-AT.
Possibly the best Star Wars FPS ever made, Republic Commando lets the player take on the role of Delta-38, the leader of a clone commando unit during the Clone Wars. The first mission, taking place during the Battle of Geonosis, follows Delta-38 as he assembles his team and attempts to eliminate high priority targets and silently aid the entirety of the Clone Army in unexpected ways. Featuring a variety of enemy types, weapon types, and the most brilliantly simplified squad combat I’ve ever seen, Republic Commando is an instant favorite for those wanting a more modern and more complex FPS take in the Star Wars universe.
2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Often hailed as one of the greatest Star Wars stories ever told, Knights of the Old Republic presents one of the most expansive and complex storylines not often seen in a Star Wars game, due to their often smaller focus and self-containment. Knights of the Old Republic, however, gives players a look at what the galaxy looked like four thousand years before the films take place with the rise of the Sith Empire and the struggling Old Republic attempting to maintain control over a tense situation. Politics, intense character development and an in-depth look into the nature of The Force are all major aspects of this game and coming from Bioware, the studio that brought us the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series, one can expect deep character interaction and a plot on a scale not known in Star Wars at its time. With its turn-based combat, attribute leveling system, and morality infused dialogue, Knights of the Old Republic is a true Star Wars gem and remains one of Bioware’s legacy gems.
1. Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
The ultimate Star Wars experience. Jedi Outcast, the second sequel to Dark Forces, again features Kyle Katarn, this time as a Jedi, as he attempts to stop the Imperial Remnant from gaining another foothold in the galaxy. Led by Dark Jedi Desann, his apprentice Tavion and Imperial Admiral Galak Fyyar, as the Remnant attempts to create Reborn, Dark Jedi soldiers artificially infused with The Force. The player as Katarn, starts off as a non-Jedi, having given up The Force after the events of Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, but he soon realizes that The Force will be needed to defeat Desann. While certainly dated since its release in 2003, Jedi Outcast features the most immersive and most accurate portrayal of Jedi combat not seen in any game of its time or in any game since (aside from its sequel/spin-off Jedi Academy). As the game progresses, more Force powers become available to the player including neutral powers like jump, push, and speed but also features four powers split between the Light and Dark side with force heal and mind trick belonging to the Light and lightning and grip belonging to the Dark. As the game progresses more, these force powers begin to manifest in stronger forms giving near unlimited power to the player if used wisely. By the end of the game with a full arsenal of weapons, force powers, and lightsaber fighting styles, playing as Katarn feels like the truest form of playing as a Jedi in any game along with a good story and impressive level design that makes this game the best Star Wars game ever made.