Star Wars actually predates the video game industry as we know it but there’s no denying its massive success influenced video games majorly. True, at first, efforts to make them work were hampered by the limitations of video game technology. Thus, you had games that were just blobs of color flying around with bad music. But as time has gone on, things have shifted to finally give gamers the chance to enjoy games that manage to give you the feeling of being in that amazing galaxy.
Sure, we have had duds (the infamously horrible Kinect game) but for the most part, we’ve had several terrific games that have opened up the Star Wars universe, allowing gamers to enjoy the experience of playing the movies well. Better are games that give you further adventures here and let you see how great and compelling this universe is. Many of these came from the now sadly ended LucasArts studio but with the new films arriving, one hopes we get some fine successors to those terrific efforts. Cutting it down is tough but here are the 10 Star Wars games that any fan needs to play at least once to show the power of this galaxy far, far away.
10. The Force Unleashed
From the start, this game brings the awesome as, right after the events of Episode III, Darth Vader marches through a Wookie world, unleashing waves of Force to take guys down before finding an orphaned Jedi. Vader decides to train the boy as his own secret apprentice and playing as this “Starkiller” is a pretty cool deal. The graphics are terrific as you go around missions to take down Jedi in hiding with cool duels but the push is being able to bound massive distances, unleash lightning, toss Stormtroopers around like rag dolls and a variety of terrific lightsaber moves. The duels are well done, including a big one with Vader and a compelling storyline about redemption and the creation of the Rebel Alliance. The sequel was criticized for a too-short storyline but this first game still remains one of the more awesome simply for stuff like bringing down a Star Destroyer with the Force and how the Dark Side can be damn fun.
9. Empire At War
The strategy game genre may not be everyone’s cup of tea as it requires a lot of patience to set up these conflicts and let them play out. However, it’s perfect for the Star Wars galaxy as you can play a storyline mode or an open-universe conquest mode. The ground battles are cool to see tanks and Walkers going at it but it’s truly fantastic watching the space combat unfold, these fleets clashing and even if you direct well, you can take some nasty hits. That you have to carefully plan out rather than just throw troops or resources out adds to the game’s power and it showcases a great look at this galaxy and how the conflict shapes it. Give it time and this is one game that captures the “Wars” part better than others and immerses you into the conflict well.
8. Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Highly underrated, this 2003 game has you playing a new student at Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy, having Force powers from the start and you can add to them in either light or dark ways. Sure, you can use blasters but the ability to leap about and throw out lightning while slicing guys down with your saber is the real pull. You can also choose your path from a variety of missions on new planets, clashing with Boba Fett, aiding Chewbacca, outrunning a Rancor and more. A great touch is half-way through the game, you can choose to upgrade with either dual lightsabers or the awesome double-bladed one for better attacks. Whether you choose to be light or dark in the end, the ability to use the force on a variety of baddies makes this a truly fantastic game that shows how great being a Jedi is.
7. Battlefront II
The first game was good showcasing the combat of troops in the Star Wars universe but the sequel is better. The story mode is fun, showing a group of clones from the prequels to the original trilogy as they’re transformed from noble soldiers to working for the Empire and works well. The combat is terrific, able to play from either Prequels or Original Trilogy as Stormtroopers, Republic troops, Rebels or droids and a variety of classes. The settings are great from famous places like Tatooine or the Death Star to lesser known planets as you fight for bases and whittle the enemy down. Better is the addition of space combat, flying in X-Wings or Tie Fighters and other various craft for exciting missions. There’s also the ability to play as major characters in missions so if you’ve ever wanted to be Darth Vader or Maul slicing up troopers with a lightsaber or Boba Fett blasting with jetpack rockets, this is your chance. While the recent revival is good, this stands much better for the wide range of combat options to live up to the “Wars” part of things.
6. X-Wing/TIE Fighter
When the “flight simulator” PC craze of the 1990’s hit, this was inevitable. Why try your hand flying a jet when you can handle one of the top fighters in this galaxy? The first X-Wing was great, giving you a chance to enjoy the challenge of playing these craft, including Y-Wings and B-Wings with a fun story. TIE Fighter was better with its storyline, presenting the idea of the Empire as the good guys trying to keep order and you can even fight alongside Darth Vader. While X-Wing vs TIE Fighter was criticized for some rough graphics, they made up for it with X-Wing Alliance that gave you the chance to fly the Falcon amid new missions. For a truly realistic take on the space combat of this franchise, you can’t beat these amazing games.
5. Lego Star Wars
When the first Lego Star Wars came was released in 2005, most thought of it as just a kid’s game. But to the surprise of everyone, adult gamers got just as much (if not more) enjoyment out of a retelling of the prequels in Lego form. From the dialogue-free and tongue-in-cheek cut scenes to the fun play to how you could replay levels with more characters, it took off as a huge hit. A sequel was made based on the original trilogy, longer levels and space play and was another hit. The “Complete Saga” version allowed you to mix characters from all the films together while a third game was based on the fabulous Clone Wars cartoon. Travelers Tales have since moved the “Lego” format to slews of other franchises from Batman to Lord of the Rings but these remain a joy to play for puzzle fans and the humor of the franchise coming through nicely.
4. Super Star Wars
Younger gamers have absolutely no idea how utterly, control-smashing difficult the Super Nintendo era was. As proof, look at this trilogy of games based on the original films which can drive you crazy in terms of constant dying and such. However, it’s also a wild mix of fun as you can play as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and others in a variety of well-done levels from jumping around TIE fighters inside the Death Star to chasms of Hoth to the forests of Endor. The space levels aren’t too bad and hearing the great music is always a fun touch. Worth tracking down, they can be hard but still a unique experience as these are the only games that allow you to play as Leia in her slave outfit and that alone makes these games a must play.
3. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Coming out of the popular first-person shooter Dark Force games, this entry wonderfully mixed that style with third-person action and a great storyline. You play Kyle Katran, a smuggler turned newbie Jedi who embarks on a quest against the remains of the Empire and some Dark Jedi. You can start off with just blasters but as you go along, you can gain force powers and use a lightsaber in combat. This is one of the few games to get lightsaber dueling right as you take on bad guys; sure, you can slice up troopers easily but have to handle Dark Jedi tougher and it ramps up as you go. You get some appearances like Billy Dee Williams as Lando and the story of Kyle trying to resist the Dark Side himself adds drama. Still, it’s the combat that pulls you in as either blasting or using the Force, it’s a great experience that should be included in any fan’s game shelf.
2. Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
The first Rogue Squadron game, released in 1998, was a good effort at giving gamers the chance to play in a variety of fighters but hampered by too many planet-based missions. This sequel (part of the launch for the Game Cube in 2001), more than made up for it, kicking right off with the Death Star assault from the original film. From there, you can play in everything from X-Wings, TIE fighters, A-Wings and even the Millennium Falcon, taking part in some iconic battles as well as original missions as well. It’s terrific to fly about and blast away at enemies, everything from bombing runs on Walkers to dogfights among asteroid belts. The best is the big battle from Return of the Jedi that’s replicated wonderfully in a wild fashion that captures the chaos of it all. It’s a shame we haven’t seen more of its like as these games showed how much fun the space combat of the films were and a great game in its own right.
1. Knights of the Old Republic
When nearly 100 magazines and websites can all agree on the pick for Game of the Year, you know it’s something amazing. Such was the case in 2003 with this RPG from BioWare that enthralled even non Star Wars fans with its fantastic play and storyline. Set 4000 years before the movies, you can pick your character (male or female) as a soldier or smuggler taking part in the grand war between the Jedi and the Sith. After adventures on a planet, you find yourself trained to become a Jedi and soon hunting clues for a massive weapon that can turn the tide of the war. The writing is fantastic and the game has instant replay value thanks to the slews of side-missions and how you can play either light or dark side for things. The combat is “turn-based” but you have to love the various companion characters, most prominently the assassin droid HK-47 whose lines are utterly hysterical. To top it off, the game boasts one of the single greatest plot twists in video game history, one that shocks you and makes replaying all the better to see the clues to it laid out. It inspired a sequel and a recent MMO but there’s a reason many consider this BioWare’s masterpiece and a game that’s not only longer than all the movies combined but better than half of them.