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Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

Tom Silkstone
Features, LucasArts, Star Wars, Top Ten

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

With Force Unleashed 2 and more excitingly The Old Republic on the horizon, I couldn't help but look back at some of the gaming gold that Lucasarts have provided us with over the years. In fact, I can't remember a time that I didn't enjoy playing Star Wars games, having been reeled in by Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi on the SNES and Star Wars: A New Hope on the Game Gear, and it's hardly surprising considering to date over 100 Star Wars games have been produced. What I've compiled here is a list of titles that transport you back to a galaxy far far away in all of its lightsabre wielding glory.

10. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

This was one of the first games that I really wanted but was hampered by my parent's PC, because it was so awful that it couldn't run it, which is a theme that's continued throughout my life in terms of PCs, and I had to resort to going round to my friends' houses to marvel in the glow of the lightsabre between my character's hands. That character was Kyle Katarn, who would quickly become integrated into the Expanded Universe's mythology and would star in a couple of games that are a bit higher up this list. At the time the gameplay was great fun and the live action cutscenes were interesting to say the least, and the standard of acting was so poor that it became amusing, but is it something that's stood the test of time? I don't think so.

9. Shadows of the Empire

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

Shadows of the Empire attempted to fill the gap between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi, and if you get the chance to read the book I strongly advise you to because it's one of the few Star Wars novels that's worth picking up. Anyway going back to the game before I get too carried away, you take control of Dash Rendar a loveable rogue who's helping Luke Skywalker to free Princess Leia from the clutches of the villainous Prince Xizor. I think this was the first time where I felt like I was romping around the universe like Han Solo must have done before he joined forces with The Rebellion, which was a definite bonus and made a nice change to cruising around in a space ship or trying to become a Jedi Knight. The story wasn't bad either and let you interact with classic characters such as Boba Fett and IG-88. Unfortunately, the game did have a couple of quirks that were pretty hard to overlook and ultimately reduced the enjoyment you got from the experience.

8. X-wing vs TIE Fighter

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

Multiplayer games have come a long way since this was released but X-wing vs TIE Fighter was and still is just as addictive as the polished titles that are being churned out today. When I was a kid simulator games were all the rage whether it was jumping into the pilot's seat of a jet fighter or getting into an attack helicopter, they were the games that you longed to get hold of and if you didn't have a joystick you'd happily try and steal one away from your friends computer when they weren't looking so that you could get the full experience. Once you'd finally manage to load up the start screen for the game, you very quickly had to decide whether you were going to fight on behalf of the noble Rebel Alliance or the evil Empire, and I think a large part of the choice came down to which ship you preferred. When you made it into whichever battle you were placed in, you'd immediately begin to track your enemies and gun them down whilst trying to manoeuvre around their incoming fire. I think you can still jump into this today and have a great time playing it and another good thing about the game was that it paved the way for the next title on the list.

7. Rogue Squadron

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

When I think back to the N64 generation, this is one of the games that I have fond memories of. We all watched Rogue Squadron nipping around causing havoc to the Imperial forces during the original film trilogy and I certainly wondered what it'd be like to get behind the wheel of an X-wing, and pretty much every ship in the Star Wars universe to be honest, especially the Millennium Falcon. Rogue Squadron gave gamers access to a huge range of ships from X-wings, Y-wings, and A-wings, to the TIE interceptors and even the T-16 Skyhopper. It also contains the N64s most well-hidden code that unlocked the Naboo Starfighter, which was set up because the game was released six months before the release of The Phantom Menace.

6. Star Wars: Empire At War

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

I used to be a big RTS fan, Warcraft, Age of Empire, and Star Trek Armada, were all games that I loved to throw away entire weekends waging war on and I always thought that the Star Wars universe would lend itself well to the genre. Because of this I wasn't surprised when Empire At War came out, but I wasn't sure how well it was going to do because it included both space and ground battles, which immediately raised my concern that the developers had tried to take too much on, and may have rushed some aspects of the game in favour of others. That's definitely not the case though because both aerial and land based battles are thoroughly enjoyable. Sending fleets of Star Destroyers into battle against Rebel forces is good fun and when you get onto a planet's surface watching Darth Vader slowly making his way forward on the battlefield amongst AT-STs and AT-ATs, it really gives you a sense of power over a lesser force. However, taking control of the Rebels is far more rewarding, especially when you overcome the seemingly endless waves of Imperial forces.

5. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

Running around as Darth Vader's secret apprentice, blasting everything in sight with your force powers before getting in close and personal with your lightsabre is great fun to behold. Unfortunately, whilst the force powers are incredibly impressive, the lightsabre combat feels a little bit overshadowed in comparison. My greatest fear with this game was that the story line would be limited having been set between episodes III and IV, which meant that the developers would have to be careful not to disrupt the continuity between the two trilogies. Luckily though it slots in pretty well, although I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with both endings and just how short the game was.

4. Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

Kyle Katarn's journey continues in Jedi Outcast and this time he has to reconnect with the force in order to bring down a fallen Jedi and his apprentice. Jumping back into the Jedi Knight series you'd expect to grab your lightsabre and have the force as your ally right from the start, but instead you spend the first few levels with a blaster in FPS mode as the story unfolds. The switch to 3rd person comes once you've proved yourself and reclaimed your lightsabre, and from there your link with the force grows stronger. The story behind the game is wonderful thanks largely to some brilliant characters, and Desann along with Tavion are fantastic enemies.

3. Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

Customisation is the greatest string to Jedi Academy's bow. Finally, we got to build a character to throw into the Star Wars universe with a number of races and other options available to choose from. The chance to alter your force powers as you see fit wasn't a new feature to the Jedi Knight series but it comes to a head in Jedi Academy. Also, the late choice that you get to make in terms of the lightsabre that you eventually wield was a particularly nice tough, and whilst I'm a big supporter of the classic single bladed lightsabre, being able to use two at the same time, or getting your hand on the double bladed lighsabre made famous by Darth Maul, isn't exactly a bad thing.

2. Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

Knights of the Old Republic 2 is a rare thing because it's a sequel that comes very close to eclipsing the original. I found that the more I played it, the more the improvements to the gameplay seemed to jump out at me. Sadly, there's a turning point in the game when it goes over to the dark side and everything that began to impress you rapidly crumbles away. This is largely down to the fact that the game had to be rushed along in order to meet its final release date, which is a real shame because with a little bit more time, we could have ended up with something very special that certainly would have reached the top of this list.

1. Knights of the Old Republic

Top 10 Tuesday: Star Wars Games

I love the Knights of the Old Republic games because they allow you to completely lose yourself in the spectacular Star Wars universe along with everything it has to offer. Exploring the familiar planets is fascinating as you get a glimpse into their history, which is an entire section of the Expanded Universe that hasn't been probed all that deeply. Conversation options are vast and include some that are dependant on which side of the force your aligned with, as well as providing you with the chance to influence a weak minded individual with a quick Jedi Mind trick. This is another game were customisation is key and you get to play the way you want to, which includes what clothes you wear and even lets you outfit your lightsabre with parts that can be collected from the numerous environments. It's hard to see why anybody would dislike this game because there are so many possibilities for you to explore and yes the turn based combat isn't as good as some of the other Star Wars games, but it certainly doesn't take anything away from the experience.

Well that brings us to the end of this list and it's a shame because there are so many great games bearing the Star Wars title, like Episode I: Racer, Star Wars: Galaxies, and Star Wars: Battlefront, that narrowly missed the final cut, but then again I guess it's a big universe out there and not everything shines brightly.

Add a comment7 comments
ODB  Aug. 31, 2010 at 14:32

About time we got another Star Wars X Wing style game

Dave  Aug. 31, 2010 at 15:38

You're an RTS fan and yet the best SW RTS isn't on the list.
I was a huge fan of SW: Galactic Battlegrounds and was gutted when Empire at war came out as its successor cause it just doesn't live up to it. Sure the space battles are nice but the ground battles are rubbish.

Anonymous  Aug. 31, 2010 at 17:48

How in God's name Battlefront and its sequel didn't make the top 5 is beyond me.

John  Aug. 31, 2010 at 22:46

Given the ordering here I'm guessing you can't have played any of the older games despite claiming so as the ordering doesn't really make sense? Shadows of the Empire was a nasty little cash-in to try and take advantage at the N64 launch when there was sod all else and is in no way fit to be on any top ten list. I certainly wouldn't rate Roque Squadron that high either, while it sold well it was extremely basic and was little more than a passing resemblance to Star Wars machinery. Putting it above X-wing vs Tie Fighter is particularly surprising given Rogue Squadron was essentially just a dumbed down version and I'd put Tie Fighter above XvT as Star Wars game - while the former lacked multiplayer it had a varied single player campaign with a strong story which introduced the popular Thrawn character. Admittedly Balance of Power did add a co-op campaign which while not particularly great in story did bring the Super Star Destroyed Vengeance into combat which is quite a sight for the first time even though confusingly it had been scaled both up and down.

I didn't think much of the KOTOR games or much of the newer content mainly because storyline, characters and settings are all so messy and incoherent it makes so much of it so bland and uninvolving which unsurprisingly is much the same as the current state of the extended universe.

Matt Gardner  Sep. 1, 2010 at 08:20

Battlefront 2 would definitely make my list (sigh....Pandemic) and, whilst I agree with KOTOR sitting pretty at number 1 (BioWare fanatic), the second one was an unfinished mess full of nice ideas but hurried in execution. When you've fought your way through your 90th identical corridor you know something's up.

I actually quite liked Shadows of the Empire, there was some real variety to that game, it's just a shame that it controlled like a pregnant hippo.

IMHO the number two spot should have gone to Travellers Tales....LEGO Star Wars is without doubt one of the most fun games of the last decade: beautifully crafted, glorious to play and with more fan favour in-jokes than any other title on this list.

Also...where's N64's Pod Racer...that was the only good thing to come out of The Phantom Menace...apart from Darth Maul and two-sided lightsabers natch.

Tom  Sep. 1, 2010 at 09:14

Nice list, tho my favourite is and allways will be the x-wing and tie-fighter games as they were just so much fun, with great storylines, be it jumping into a trap and having to fight your way out, or setting your own trap up and feeling very pleased with yourself when it all works out. Hated Ion Bolts tho..

My other favourite, which didnt make the list, is Star Wars Rebellion, not that well known or liked i think but I loved being able to control the whole galaxy as either the rebels or the empire, and being able to build a death star and go on a rampage (until some swine of an xwing did a deathstar run :-( )

good times

Phil  Sep. 1, 2010 at 12:32

TIE fighter is still my favorite game of all time. The best single player story line, long play time and varity of ships and missions. Tried to load it the other day - its hard getting a DOS joystick game working now Windows 7 is out.

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