It is safe to say that I like the Star Wars franchise a bit, and by a bit I mean it consumes my very existence. Star Wars for me is more than a movie franchise, more than a series of books and more than a collection of video games. Star Wars has been my biggest obsession since I was 8 years old when I was taken to see the Special Edition re-release of the Original Trilogy in the mid-90s. Coming out of the cinema after watching A New Hope, that was it, I was hooked for life. 21 years later I am still as obsessed (family and friends might argue I am more obsessed), and I think now would be a great time to give you my top ten games in the Star Wars franchise, so let’s get this Son of a Bantha started…
NUMBER 10 – Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995/1996)
Some games from the mid-90s have aged quite well. Don’t get me wrong, in 2016 I would never say any game from that era looks great, but some titles look ok; Crash Bandicoot is an example of this. Star Wars: Dark Forces is the polar opposite of this, but to be honest it didn’t look great back in 1996 either. Graphics weren’t Dark Forces’ strong point, what was, however, was the story and its place in the much loved Expanded Universe (now referred to as Legends since Disney’s acquisition).
Kyle Katarn was the brand new protagonist created for Dark Forces; his mission: to stop the evil Galactic Empire from creating a brand of super Stormtroopers. Kyle was a Han Solo-inspired mercenary who defected from the Empire to join the Rebel Alliance. Dark Forces was created as one of the many ‘Doom‘ clones from the 90s, but it did have some impressive innovations. Kyle can do things like look up and down and crouch. Now, of course, by today’s standards this is just the norm, but back in 1995 that was a huge deal. A great plot, an awesome new hero and some decent shooting mechanics mean Dark Forces is deservedly on this top ten list.
NUMBER 9 – Star Wars: Empire at War (2005/2006)
The very first PC game I played was the very first Command and Conquer, which I loved and still love to this day. Commanding large forces of troops and attempting to wipe my adversary from the face of the Earth is great fun, so when it was announced that Star Wars would be entering the RTS world in 2004, I was a tad excited, to say the least. Empire at War is a game that does exactly what it says on the front cover. Set between Episodes III and IV, the Rebel Alliance campaign mode sees you controlling numerous attacks on Imperial installations, freeing the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk and learning about the Empire’s secret weapon (Death Star).
The Imperial campaign has you taking orders from the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader, as you try and crush the Rebel Alliance before they can do any real damage. Empire at War is slightly different from most RTS games; if you engage in a battle, you can only use the forces you have brought with you. There is a limit to troops and vehicles you can have on the map at any one time, and the extra forces are kept as reinforcements which can be called upon when your numbers start to diminish. Empire at War wasn’t exactly the RTS game the Star Wars community wanted; I for one just wanted a Command and Conquer clone where I could build a huge army of Stormtroopers to wipe out the Rebel scum, but the game we got is decent and one that is still enjoyable today.
NUMBER 8 – Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007)
The Lego games are brilliant, they are fun to play and are enjoyable for children and adults alike. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a combination of the first two Lego Star Wars games, Lego Star Wars: The Video Game (released in 2005) and Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (released in 2006), with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions both being full HD. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga takes us through all the major scenes from the first six movies, all with the typical Lego humour. With over 50 characters to collect and play as and outstanding platforming gameplay, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is a must have for any Star Wars fan. Destroying everything with a lightsaber for those precious Lego pieces will never get old, and completing every level with the ‘True Jedi’ rating will force completionists to replay levels again and again.
NUMBER 7 – Star Wars: Battlefront (2015)
In 2013 EA announced that they would be developing the new era of Star Wars video games, and the first game released under the new partnership would be a new Battlefront game. This was huge news for the Star Wars community, as the two original Battlefront games are two of the most beloved in the franchise. The newest Battlefront has generally been very well received by critics and fans alike, with some minor criticisms. The lack of a campaign mode was the main complaint, but to be honest the original two didn’t have exceptional campaigns either. My biggest issue with Battlefront was there was no content from the prequel trilogy.
Many fans may have a problem with the prequels, but Clone Troopers vs Battle Droids is a lot of fun. Battlefront did do a lot right, though; this game truly made you feel like you were fighting in the Star Wars universe, the soundtrack and sounds of the vehicles and weapons are perfect. It is also a pretty forgiving online shooter with no kill-streak rewards. Instead, you find random pick-ups which can range from a rocket launcher, an attack droid or, if you’re very lucky, a ‘hero’ pick up where you can play as iconic characters from the saga. Battlefront is fantastic, and with EA’s constant stream of DLC, there is enough content to keep everyone going until Battlefront 2 is released next year.
NUMBER 6 – Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011)
Not to be confused with Knights of the Old Republic, The Old Republic is an MMORPG released by action RPG kings BioWare and takes place around 3,500 years before the events of the films. Starting life out as a pay to play game, The Old Republic went free to play in November 2012 when subscription numbers began to fall. If you opt for the free to play, then you get the full game with some obvious restrictions (level capping at lv50 and a limit of only two characters). The Old Republic is an MMORPG that you can easily play by yourself with four character classes for both the Light and Dark Side; that’s eight different campaign modes created by a studio renowned for their epic story-driven RPGs. BioWare also regularly update the content with various DLCs, with the latest being this year.
Playing with a group of friends is great fun, and with an active community, The Old Republic is an MMO you can definitely sink your teeth into and a subscription worthy of your money. MMO veterans will be at ease with the gameplay, but newcomers may find the various key commands a bit daunting. The forums for The Old Republic are some of the friendliest around though, and any questions will be answered respectfully without any rudeness. Once you get your head around the various button commands, this is a very rewarding Star Wars game.
NUMBER 5 – Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (2002)
No game before or since has been able to make you feel what it would be really like to be a Jedi Knight. Jedi Outcast puts you in the shoes, again, of Kyle Katarn, the hero from Dark Forces. For the first couple of levels, Kyle has no Force powers, but he regains them after the second level, and it is then where you can let the Jedi awesomeness commence. You slice your way through hundreds of Stormtroopers, meet some iconic characters, and clash with some formidable adversaries.
Jedi Outcast can be played either 1st or 3rd-person, so yes, that does mean 1ST-PERSON LIGHTSABER DUELS!!!!. The multiplayer was, and still is, hugely popular even now in 2016! Even the multiplayer includes one vs one lightsaber duels. Kyle can use all the vintage Force powers we have come to love, and hacking Imperials down with your lightsaber has never been more fun than in Jedi Outcast.
NUMBER 4 – Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005)
An absolute classic from the original Xbox, Star Wars: Republic Commando is not just an excellent Star Wars FPS, it’s an excellent FPS in general. Set during The Clone Wars (perhaps my favourite timeline in Star Wars), you play as ‘Boss’, a Clone Trooper in charge of a four-man Clone Commando team. The campaign will take you to various places throughout the Star Wars universe as you undertake various dangerous, certain death missions in the fight against the Separatists. Republic Commando is a squad-based shooter, and you can order your fellow Clones to perform simple tasks, like door opening, holding positions, etc.
During a shootout you can also order your brothers into various firing positions which requires some tactical thinking. It is beyond pointless to order your sniper trooper to cover near the front of the assault, for example. Republic Commando is excellent and a game which is still highly enjoyable today. The prequels, as previously mentioned, have always had a bashing from fans, but games like Republic Commando flourish from the world created by them.
NUMBER 3 – Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (2001)
If Jedi Outcast is the quintessential game for the Jedi, then Rogue Leader is the go-to game for vehicle battles. Released in 2001 as a launch title for Nintendo’s fantastic little cube console, the GameCube, Rogue Leader puts you in the cockpit as Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles during the iconic battles we see in the movies and some brilliant original missions. The various Rebel vehicles you pilot in Rogue Leader feel, look and sound exactly like they do on the big screen. The action is fast paced and can be extremely challenging, and with the ability to instantly switch to a 1st-person cockpit view, you truly feel like a pilot fighting for the Rebel Alliance. It is a game that has aged very well, and the locations Rogue Leader takes you to look incredible. Once the game is completed, you can jump back into any mission you want, and replaying the Hoth and Death Star levels will never get old, even 15 years after the game’s release.
NUMBER 2 – Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005)
Two Battlefront games in one list! I know, I know, I am a stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerfherder, but Battlefront II deserves its place in this top 10 list. It is an improvement over its predecessor and is superior to its successor. The improvements include a narrative campaign-style mode where an Imperial trooper retells stories from his past battles, which range from his time as a Clone Trooper in the Grand Army of the Republic to his actions as an Imperial Stormtrooper. The campaign mode didn’t win awards, but it is fun to play through, and it’s very interesting to hear a Clone Trooper speak about his actions during Order 66. Battlefront II also features the Galactic Conquest mode where you can play as either the Republic, Separatists, Rebel Alliance or Galactic Empire as you attempt to control the galaxy.
Battles come in two forms as ground or space-based; the space battles are nowhere near as epic as Rogue Leader, but they are enjoyable and allow you to pilot various vehicles from the movies. The ground-based combat is where Battlefront II excels, allowing you to switch between 1st and 3rd-person perspectives at the push of a button. Another improvement from the original Battlefront also lets you take control of various hero characters from the movies, like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, for example. Again, controlling Jedi characters is not as rewarding as it was in Jedi Outcast, but it is still great fun.
Various ground-based vehicles can also be piloted during the epic battles, which take you across the galaxy to more locations than any other game before it. What makes Battlefront II superior to the 2015 release? Well, the inclusion of the Clone Wars, for one (I am a huge, huge fan of the Clone Troopers, and these amazing soldiers make up over half of my collectables collection), and ship battles that actually take place in space (the 2015 iteration of Battlefront does now feature space combat thanks to the Death Star and Scariff DLC). Battlefront II is the perfect example of a game that can fit anyone’s needs; want to play a quick round before you head out for the night? Then jump straight in with instant action. Or if you’re like me and prefer to spend your nights in the comfort of your own home, then Battlefront II can easily keep you company for the night as you either defend the galaxy from the evil Galactic Empire or try and squash the Separatist movement.
NUMBER 1 – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
When Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was released by BioWare in 2003, it blew everyone away. There had been plenty of amazing stories told through the Expanded Universe, but apart from the famed Thrawn Trilogy of books, we had never witnessed such epic storytelling as this. Set 4,000 years before the events of A New Hope, Knights of the Old Republic shows us a world we had never seen in Star Wars before. Jedi Knights numbered in the thousands, and the Sith were not the illusive mystery we knew them as from the films. Knights of the Old Republic lets you fly around the galaxy visiting various known and new worlds, and in true BioWare fashion, lets you play the game exactly how you want to. Want to be a good, upstanding Jedi? Okay, sure, Knights of the Old Republic will let you. Or do you feel the pull to the Dark Side? If so, BioWare has you covered.
During your epic quest you will meet some of the most iconic types of characters out of the movies, in the form of perhaps the most kickass Jedi that ever was and an assassin droid that is nothing short of hilarious. The combat is a bit…how can I put this?…clunky by today’s standard. But if you haven’t played this incredible game before, then don’t let this put you off as the combat is bearable, and Knights of the Old Republic features a plot worthy of any of the films. Star Wars is no stranger to plot twists, and boy does Knights of the Old Republic have one for you! This truly is one of the greatest RPGs ever made, and to this day exploring the ancient homeworld of the Sith, Korriban, is one of the greatest levels of all time. The Knights of the Old Republic timeline is adored by so many fans (this one included), with thousands of fans begging Disney to create something in this timeline, but if that never happens, at least this incredible game exists.