Star Wars Rogue One hits this week, rekindling our love for the legendary sci-fi franchise all over again. You won’t be able to escape Star Wars for the next few months, so embrace it and get into the Force-stive spirit by revisiting some of the best games that have spun-off George Lucas’ epic space opera.
Like Rey desperately seeking Luke, we’ve hunted down the very best Star Wars games from history. Sure, some of these games might not fit within the new Star Wars canon, but they definitely shouldn’t be missed. If you’re looking to swing a lightsaber like a Jedi Knight, pilot an X-Wing starfighter, or just take on the Empire all by yourself, you definitely need to get your hands on these.
10. Super Star Wars (Trilogy)
Although plenty of Star Wars games have come and gone since the end of the original trilogy’s cinematic run, it wasn’t until the early 90s that Lucasfilm would truly throw its weight behind interactive versions of the license. On consoles, the most memorable result of those early efforts is the fantastic Super Star Wars trilogy, a series of action-packed side-scrollers translating the major events of the movie saga into 56 thrilling (if utterly impossible) levels. Playable characters include fan favourites such as Han, Luke, Leia and Chewie, with end-level bosses ranging from big bad Emperor Palpatine to the iconic movie battles against Darth Vader. Additional quirks include the use of several ‘Mode 7′ stages, taking advantage of the Super NES’ ability to render sprawling 3D-like landscapes (think F-Zero, but with Imperial speeder bikes). As visually charming as it is thumb-splittingly difficult, Super Star Wars isn’t exactly recommended for casual fans of the franchise, but anyone willing to endure some dark side-tempting frustration will discover a slick, enjoyable, 16-bit behemoth.
9. Star Wars Dark Forces
From the dogfighting film reels of World War 2 to the heroic archetypes of ancient myth, Star Wars has never been averse to mining a good idea. Case in point, 1995’s Dark Forces, a first-person shooter title patterned after id Software’s original Doom. No mere carbonite copy, LucasArts’ blaster-happy adventure manages to occasionally outdo its inspiration, introducing a bevy of small improvements that allow players to look up, down, duck and jump. Stick those killer apps on your promo poster. Of course, id’s wasn’t the only formula being rewritten. Four years on from the unofficial launch of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (beginning with the ‘Thrawn trilogy’ of novels) LucasArts took the bold step of creating a whole new cast of characters. Enter Kyle Katarn, a scrappy young mercenary questing to prevent the completion of a deadly form of stormtrooper. Along for the ride were Kyle’s right-hand gal Jan Ors, Rebel turncoat Crix and a nasty Imperial officer by the name of Rom Mohc. A Star Wars shooter, brimming with fresh faces, pulsating action and a brave new vision for the franchise? That’s about as winning a combination as you’ll find in any era.
8. Star Wars: TIE Fighter
Since the release of TIE Fighter (and the excellent X-Wing series), no full game has come this close to capturing the feeling of piloting a starfighter in the Star Wars universe. Battlefront’s new X-Wing VR mission smashes it now, but that’s only 20 minutes long. In TIE Fighter, from the moment you step into the briefing room to the triumphant return to your fleet, each mission makes you feel like a real Imperial pilot rising through the ranks to become one of Emperor Palpatine’s most trusted servants. TIE Fighter is a true flight simulator, but one that never feels too complicated for its own good. You can adjust your engine power to increase your ships shields and blaster power at the expense of speed, and even configure how your ships weapons fire on the fly. But all that background multitasking never feels distracting. In fact, it feels amazing. Missions have you single-handedly taking out escorts for a Rebel medical frigate, running a suicide bombing run on a massive capital ships, and playing wingman for Darth Vader. Theres even an appearance from the cold, calculating Admiral Thrawn as one of your commanding officers – which is a double dose of fan service for anyones who enjoyed Timothy Zahn’s much-loved Star Wars novels.
7. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
This action-adventure puzzler may be targeted at a younger audience, but there’s no shortage of references and gags that appeal to grown-ups, too. Swinging our lightsaber haphazardly and breaking things is a blast, especially with the movie-authentic sound effects and music contrasting with the brilliant slapstick action. Inadvertently smacking our co-op partner and watching them explode into Lego bits is always pretty **** entertaining too. Don’t want to play as Luke Skywalker? Fine, swap over to one of the other 50-odd characters and mess around with their own unique abilities. Lego Star Wars 2 satisfies our eternal hunger for flashy lightsaber battles, and our equally eternal need to build Lego contraptions, all in one go. The Complete Saga takes you through the events of all six movies, allowing you to relive everything from the dramatic dual of the fates, to the destruction of the second Death Star. It doesn’t get much better than that.
6. Star Wars: Republic Commando
This Xbox exclusive is one of the gems in the Star Wars games library. It’s a great shooter, which is a solid foundation, but LucasArts injects some much-needed variety into the action by allowing all four members of the squad their own individual voices and personalities. All have their particular quirks, skill sets, and preferred positions. In brief, these boys (and their often excellent AI) know exactly how to get the job done. Add in a number of clever design decisions and quality visual flourishes (that windshield cleaner) and you have one of the few Star Wars titles to truly excel in its own right.
5. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Thousands of years before the Emperor and Darth Vader ruled the galaxy with an iron fist, the Old Republic stood for over a thousand generations. That rich, rarely used history serves as the perfect setting for an ever-expanding MMO. BioWare jumped headfirst into this intriguing timeline with Star Wars: The Old Republic, giving players a vast, ancient galaxy to explore, unhindered by Star Wars movie canon. In SWTOR, you choose what type of hero or villain you want to be. You can take roles like a Jedi Knight struggling to maintain peace and justice, a shady Bounty Hunter looking to cash in on their next big contract, or a dedicated Imperial agent. Between the intricate storytelling of the main story (which is entirely unique to each class), abundant side-quests, and getting to know your ever-growing crew, The Old Republic lets you build your own space adventure one encounter at a time. It’s free-to-play if you’re feeling frugal, but subscribing lets you stick solely to main story quests, effectively offering eight epic BioWare stories in one place.
4. Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
This is the ultimate Jedi fantasy. The game that lets you run around the galaxy fighting the Empire, cutting off stormtroopers’ limbs with a lightsaber, and using all of the Force powers seen in the movies. Jedi Outcast makes you feel like a powerful Jedi Knight – something that plenty of games have tried to do but just didn’t get quite right. Everything here is spot on, from the lightsaber clashes with your red-bladed, Reborn enemies, to the memorable encounters with powerful enemies and famous allies like Luke and Lando. Multiplayer is a treat, too. Players can still be found online engaging in the usual swath of online multiplayer modes. But you can also find more dedicated groups of players taking part in movie-like, one-on-one lightsaber duels as spectators calmly look on. Yeah, that really happens. People get serious when it comes to lightsaber duels.
3. Star Wars Battlefront
Playing DICE’s is the closest thing you can get to actually participating in the iconic battles of the original Star Wars trilogy. Battlefront does a fantastic job of creating an authentic Star Wars environment. Everything from the movie-prop-modeled weapons to the familiar sound effects and classic musical score is spot on in this game. Joining an online match feels like you just stepped into the movies. One of Battlefront’s greatest strengths is that it’s incredibly accessible. You won’t get your *** handed to you by better equipped, more dedicated players if you just want to blast a few stormtroopers every now and then. The power-ups spread across the map give you instant access to powerful explosives, turrets, and spacecraft. Hero modes and pick-ups allow you to play as famous characters like Han Solo and Darth Vader, and the dogfighting Fighter Squadron mode lets you fly a ship any time you want. What’s more it now has Rogue One DLC, and a free X-Wing VR mission. It’s quite the package.
2. Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2
A Star Wars game was the Gamecube’s best launch title. Seriously. Rogue Leader is that good. Dropping players into the cockpits of a number of different ships from the Star Wars universe, amid some of the most memorable parts of the films (and some other battles, too), its as complete a Star Wars air-combat experience as you could want. Death Star trench run? Its in there. The Its a trap! battle above Endor? It has it. Hoth? Not only is it in the game, but its done better than any other Hoth level in any other game before. Even today, the game looks beautiful, taking you to new and classic locations that range from the Cloud City of Bespin to hidden Imperial bases. Rogue Leader is a blast to play giving you a chance to take on the Empire as you engage in dangerous frontal attacks on massive Star Destroyers and blast your way through innumerable enemy TIEs. This is the ultimate star fighter pilot experience.
1. Knights of the Old Republic
BioWare delivers one of the most compelling Star Wars narratives ever with its RPG, Knights of the Old Republic. The universe – which is set during a completely different time period, thousands of years before the events of the movies – fleshes out the Universe in ways you’d never expect. You get to explore the galaxy when the Jedi Knights numbered in the thousands, discover the secrets of the ancient Sith, and even discover things like why Sandpeople hate outsiders so much. As you progress through the story, you’ll meet some fascinating and unforgettable characters, and in typical BioWare fashion, discover their deep backstories. The Assassin Droid HK-47 holds a special place in our hearts for his degrading and threatening comments towards organic meatbags, but steadfast loyalty to his master. The malleability of the story makes playing through the game multiple times vital to the full experience, and you’ll always be happy to oblige. Knights of the Old Republic is the definitive game for Star Wars fanatics. It has everything: witty characters, good versus evil, bucket-of-bolts starships and a plot twist that will blow your reverse power flux coupling.