We always let the Wookie win
It’s true: We at BnB spend more time than we should a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. We readily admit it. And even though our midi-chlorians aren’t off the charts, our hearts beat for the occasional attempt to feel the Force flowing through us. Hell, if we could, we’d gladly set out to recover our very own lightsaber crystals to make the circle complete.
Alas, no mythical Jedi temple exists (yet!), and our sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped us conjure up the stolen data tapes, so for now we must content ourselves with experiencing our favorite Star Wars tales – as well as many new ones – via the videogame medium. Here then are the team’s top 5 Star Wars games; we know you were gonna go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, but have a stroll down memory lane first.
Chad Morelock – PS3/PC/Retro Writer
5. Shadows of the Empire
4. Battlefront II
3. Knights of the Old Republic
2. Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series
1. TIE Fighter
Shadows was a pretty memorable game. Like the Super Star Wars games, it mixed on-foot missions with vehicle-based ones, but it had 3D graphics! Which, at the time, was HUGE. This was the game that told me the N64 wouldn’t just be for Mario games. And most of the levels were pretty big, too. There was also plenty of challenge, with tons of secrets to find. Oh, and you get a jetpack. I loved the jetpack.
Battlefront II was just plain fun. The first game was good, but the addition of dynamic space battles made it even better. The story mode was even worth playing, although most of us just played through it once and then played multiplayer.
KOTOR is pretty much the only RPG set in the Star Wars universe. And man, is it a good one. Bioware brought their typically great writing and characterization to the Star Wars universe. Playing KOTOR (and its sequel) is honestly a better experience than watching the prequels.
And then there’s the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games. It’s possible to count the characters who are cooler than mercenary-Rebel agent-Jedi Kyle Katarn on one hand. The original Dark Forces was quite innovative, too – secondary fire modes and cutscenes abound, not to mention a clear and consistent storyline. Of course, in the sequel you got a lightsaber and a morality system – in an era when most games were content to let you kill everyone horribly. And on top of that, they’re just awesome games.
Finally, there’s TIE Fighter. While its immediate predecessor X-Wing is excellent, TIE Fighter managed to one-up it. The game is not only a top-notch flight sim, but seeing things from the Imperial side is something that’s rare, even today. The game also managed to have a lot of intrigue within the Empire in-between missions. But what it boiled down to was that the game had ridiculously great gameplay, and being the bad guy was never this good again!
Martin Watts – Editor-in-Chief
4. Rogue Squadron
3. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
2. Knights of the Old Republic
1. Galactic Battlegrounds: The Clone Campaigns
You wouldn’t believe how hard it was for me to narrow this list down to just five titles. I’m a massive Star Wars fan, and although the games tend to be rather hit-and-miss, I’ve still enjoyed most of them.
Star Wars: Battlefront holds a place in my Top 5 for many reasons. As a multiplayer experience, it is one of the most enjoyable out there, although I tended to opt for the two-player splitscreen mode, and team up with a buddy. It was rather novel that you could just simply play as one of the unnamed soldiers typically relegated to the background, and it really helped to immerse you even more so in the action and combat. Essentially, Battlefront was a Battlefield clone with a Star Wars re-skin, but hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
As far as Star Wars games on Nintendo 64 go, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was arguably the best of the litter. The game presented the player with a rock-hard challenge, with
many of your missions involving you defending key installations or convoys – the sense of desperation you feel as everything slowly starts to go wrong is rather thrilling. For the time, it was very impressive in the graphics department, and despite being a relatively short game, some of the missions are so good that they warrant multiple playthroughs.
I feel that Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast doesn’t really need much of an introduction. It was Star Wars through and through. The game’s protagonist, Kyle Katarn,
lives up to the Star Wars mantle of being cool but cheesy. What stood out about Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast for me were the awesome lightsaber mechanics and how well the Force abilities were implemented; I can’t think of a single Star Wars game that has managed to do real-time lightsaber combat better than Jedi Knight II, except for Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, which is a direct sequel using the same engine.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is a very easy choice. Everything about the game is just right. The characters are well thought-out, the quests you do are epic in scale,
and the story is better than anything found in any of the prequel movies. It’s always nice to play a compelling RPG, and I feel that the Star Wars setting augmented the
experience dramatically for players. The fact that the developers didn’t attempt to base the setting around that of the movies was an incredibly smart one (my friend tells me of the horror in seeing hundreds of Jedi run around during the times of the Empire in Star Wars: Galaxies). As a result, we got an insight into some of the earlier history of the epic tale, and BioWare had more creative freedom to make a highly enjoyable videogame experience.
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: The Clone Campaigns is an odd choice for the number one spot in a Top 5 Star Wars game list. There are, without question, a number of better Star Wars games out there (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is most certainly one of these titles). Moreover, Galactic Battlegrounds: The Clone Campaigns is technically a re-skin of Age of Empires II, which is by no means a bad thing, but it offered very little new at the time. Nevertheless, Galactic Battlegrounds: The Clone Campaigns has given me a ton of enjoyment over the past eight years or so. Out of all the Star Wars games, I feel it does the best job of capturing the grand scale of the battles that the saga is renowned for. Most nights of the week during my teenage years, my friends and I would take over the family PC for the night and do battle. The single-player campaign has some pretty interesting moments, but the multiplayer mode is where the fun is to be had. Having up to 250 units at your disposal meant that the battles could get very big, and believe me, they did. The selection of units was equally impressive, with many old favourites such as AT-ATs and X-Wings to choose from, and made-up units such as flamethrower-equipped Tauntauns. With over eight different civilisations to choose from, I feel that Galactic Battlegrounds: The Clone Campaigns has something for every Star Wars fan.
Declan Burrowes – European Managing Editor, 360/PC Writer
5. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
4. Battlefront II
3. Knights of the Old Republic
2. Bounty Hunter
1. Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Ah, 1999, the year of that Star Wars movie, the one which was only good for Liam Neeson and Darth Maul. (Even thinking about Binks will have yousa bisected with a lightsaber.) Despite the ham-fisted movie, the game tie-in actually wasn’t that bad. With solid action, numerous playable characters, and interesting locations (like Mos Espa and Otoh Gunga), the most memorable part of The Phantom Menace game was leading Amidala through the gardens of Naboo and straight into the sights of a Trade Federation tank. Take that, Natalie Portman.
Battlefront II took the most famous battles of the movie franchise and turned them into playable arena deathmatches. I don’t like throwing the word around, but it was truly awesome. Taking control of a droideka and slicing through clone troopers with twin blasters was something I always accompanied with my own excited sound-effects. LucasArts, take note: we want a new one.
Of course, who could possibly omit perhaps the most famous titan of the Star Wars game universe? Knights of the Old Republic presented RPGers with a galaxy 4,000 years before the films, and therefore, a rancor’s nest full of fresh new ideas to experience. In typical BioWare fashion, Knights gave players deep characters, an engaging plot, and a twist that left many mouths agape.
Bounty Hunter, on the other hand, was less well-received by the Cult of Lucas. Despite the negativity, I never grasped how anyone could dislike jetting about as Jango Fett, especially when the game offered a wrist-mounted flamethrower and back-mounted rocket-launcher. Scanning and pursuing bounties across the streets of Coruscant and creating as much havoc as possible in the process is a memory I hold particularly close to my cold heart. The story of the acquisition of Fett’s ship, Slave, and his dealings with Count Dooku also helped to tie in the game with the wider universe, and convincingly so. You weren’t all that bad, Jango. *sniff*
At my top spot sits Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. Full of excruciatingly cheesy one-liners, the traditional battle between good and evil, lightsaber customisation, and remarkably intense duels, this action-packed adventure provided a gaming experience brimming with interesting and familiar locations in which to do battle with the Disciples of Ragnos, a cult intent on reincarnating the titular long-dead Sith lord. Featuring Jedi Outcast’s Kyle Katarn and Luke Skywalker, plus the chance to turn to the Dark Side with all the angst of a moody teenager, Jedi Academy is the definitive interactive Star Wars experience.
Pascal Tekaia – US Managing Editor, 360/Retro Writer
5. The Force Unleashed
4. Rogue Squadron
3. Knights of the Old Republic
2. Lego Star Wars
1. Dark Forces
While The Force Unleashed shares a common problem with many Star Wars games – that is that their worlds tend to feel too barren and one-sided to me, with too much emphasis put on primitive living conditions or plain ugly landscapes – I chose it for this list because of the ease of force-based combat. While the game has its fair share of flaws, it quickly became a joy to Force Push a group of enemies, Force Lift one or two and fling them to their oblivion, then brandish your lightsaber and leap into the remaining fray to tear it to shreds.
Rogue Squadron is the only vehicle-based shooter to make my list; it had a solid storyline, gameplay mechanics were sound, and seriously, how cool was it to tether Imperial AT-AT Walkers with your harpoon on Hoth, then spin around them to weave a small cocoon of trippy destruction.
Knights of the Old Republic did not make it further up my list because of the same problem outlined above – I thought the world was too hard to connect with many times. That aside, I did enjoy my squad (sorry, I didn’t think Carth was a whiny girl), and BioWare’s story was as ambitious as it usually is. Most of all, I loved the fact that a whole new world was essentially being offered up to players: here was a society with familiar Star Wars and Jedi trappings, but thousands of years before the downfall chronicled in the films!
Next, I’ve got to include Lego Star Wars in my list. Is it purely a Star Wars title? Yes and no; the answer is debatable. But it does certainly tell the story of Star Wars, use the music of Star Wars, feature all the characters of Star Wars, and so on. It’s on my list for another (very important) reason: it’s plain and simply a hell of a lot of fun! Being the first Lego game adaptation, it was an incredibly fresh and funny idea. The whole game played superbly, and it provided an accessible way for new generations of gamers to experience our long-time favorite franchise.
Finally, Dark Forces tops my list because, in the mid ’90s, when my first-person PC gaming experience was limited to Doom, along came a game that put me – literally, from a first-person perspective – in the middle of the Star Wars universe. An original story and character, cinematic story-telling, and complete immersion due to the control scheme were all a part of the package. Sadly, I never played any of its follow-ups, but the original Dark Forces still remains a classic in my book.
Share Your Thoughts: The team has shared its favorite games from Lucas’ galactic space opera, lightsaber-wielding editions and otherwise. What are your top Star Wars games?