A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas created a little something called Star Wars, you may have heard of it. The first video game to feature the Star Wars name was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back all the way back in 1980. Almost four decades later, we are still finding ourselves with Star Wars games and even more Star Wars movies.
It’s hard to escape the phenomenon so let’s just embrace it and take a trip through history to look at the best Star Wars games ever made.
10. Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
Developers: LucasArts, Ensemble Studios
Year of Release: 2001
The first game on the list is the lesser known Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds. It is a real-time strategy game set in the Star Wars universe. It was created by Ensemble Studios, the developer behind the Age of Empires series. The game features factions spanning from the original trilogy and Episode 1, with a later expansion pack featuring content from Episode 2.
The different campaigns in the game don’t directly follow the plot of the movies and even introduce their own characters into the mix. The Galactic Empire and Trade Federation campaigns throw a wrench into things by featuring alternate endings such as what would’ve happened if Darth Maul hadn’t lost his fight with Obi-Wan and if the Empire weren’t defeated by the Ewoks on Endor.
Despite being over 15 years old, the game still holds up rather well and was released on Steam not too long ago. A fan made mod for the game called Expanding Fronts was released last year in an effort to keep the game alive by introducing new units, features and gameplay elements.
9. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
Platform: PS2, GameCube, PS3, PS4
Year of Release: 2002
Coming in at number nine is Star Wars: Bounty Hunter starring Jango Fett, the genetic template of the clone army and father of Boba Fett.
The events of this game occur between the first and second episodes of the prequel trilogy. The objective of the game is hunting Dark Jedi Komari Vosa. The game explores why Fett was chosen to be the face of the clones, how he acquired Slave I, his ship, and how his son was born. Although Disney purged all the video games from existence in the canon, it’s still a good story that fills you in more about his life.
The age of this game has become apparent over the years and does have a clunky feel to it but it isn’t anything to deter you from playing. It has become more available than ever now due to its release as a PS2 classic in 2015.
8. Star Wars Galaxies
Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Year of Release: 2003
We’re only three games into the list and it’s already getting difficult to choose games.
Star Wars Galaxies was the franchise’s first foray into the massively multiplayer universe and was met with critical acclaim. The game launched without MMO staples such as mounts but was still able to be successful.
The third expansion pack for the game ended up being its downfall. The Trials of Obi-Wan was released in 2005 and overhauled the whole game. The New Game Experience simplified many professions, gameplay mechanics and removed the challenges of becoming a Jedi and instead made it available as a starting class.
In 2011, it was announced the game’s servers would be closed by the end of the year. Star Wars: The Old Republic, the next Star Wars MMO, was released soon after closure of Galaxies.
7. Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire
Platforms: N64, PC
Developers: Nintendo (N64), LucasArts (PC)
Year of Release: 1996
Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire puts the player in control of the smuggler Dash Rendar. At first, he appears to be a poor man’s Han Solo, even with his ship, the Outrider, which features a strong resemblance to Solo’s Millenium Falcon, but you quickly find out he’s much more than that. You take on the likes of bounty hunter IG-88, in a junkyard no less, and Prince Xizor throughout your constantly changing journey.
The high point of the game is actually found in the first level, which features arguably the best version of the battle of Hoth ever seen in a Star Wars video game. The rest of the game is still worth playing but even if you just play the first level, it’s worth it. Nothing quite compares to bringing down an AT-AT with your harpoons and tow cables.
When it was released over 20 years ago, the game was plagued with issues like its controls and camera and those are still present today. If you can find a way to endure that, the game is actually an enjoyable journey to an alternate storyline going on the same time as the original trilogy.
6. Star Wars: Republic Commando
Platforms: Xbox, PC
Year of Release: 2005
Republic Commando is a good Star Wars game despite the fact it has no Jedi characters in it. The game is set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and depicts the events of a clone unit called Delta Squad that is tasked with taking down the Geonosian leader Sun Fac.
The game plays like a Star Wars version of Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon by putting you in control of a squad. If you treat the game like Halo or Call of Duty, then it’ll be harder to succeed. Working with your squad is essential and frankly, one of the best parts of this game.
Republic Commando used the actual licensed work of the movies too. It’s one of the first Star Wars games to take advantage of that, so at some points in may feel like you’re in an actual Star Wars movie.
Despite being released in 2005, the game still holds up rather well. The controls feel sharp and precise, at least as much as they can for a game over a decade old. The storyline is top-notch but one criticism is the short length of the game. When it came out the multiplayer was nothing special, but if you’re picking it up now you’re doing it for the single player campaign. It’s worth playing through at least once just to get to know the characters.
5. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, Wii, PSP, PC
Developers: LucasArts (PS3, Xbox 360), Krome Studios (PS2, Wii, PSP), Aspyr Media (PC)
Year of Release: 2008
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t enjoy this game all that much. I despise the controls and find it hard to play. I struggle with targeting individual units with my force abilities and I found the graphics to be subpar when the game originally released. Despite all that, I see the game for what it is and the potential of what it could have been.
The opening sequence of the game where you control Darth Vader was one of my favorite moments in a Star Wars game. It made me feel like the powerful Sith Lord and was given a full array of his abilities. The storyline is great too, I mean who wouldn’t want to hear about Vader’s hidden apprentice? There’s a moment in the game where you pull down a Star Destroyer and if that doesn’t give you shivers as a Star Wars fan, I’m not sure what else will.
If you give it a chance, you might have a better time with it than I did. I’m not saying it’s a bad game or anything, it definitely has its moments. The highs are very high and lows are low. It’s also one of the few games put you in control of the bad guys which is cool.
It is available on many platforms so there’s no real reason to miss out on this game.
4. Star Wars: Battlefront 2
Platforms: Xbox, PS2, PC
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Year of Release: 2005
I chose the sequel over the original because the sequel built on everything the first one did and added new features such as space combat. I always see the comparison of this game to the Battlefield series but I think that’s an unfair comparison. This game doesn’t feature destructible environments and so many AI units running around that it’s hard to tell who is an actual player and who isn’t.
The game introduces playable heroes, something the previous game lacked, and it’s a welcome addition. The game also features a much better storyline than the original did. There’s still an online presence for the game on PC, albeit a very small one. The servers for the online portion of the game were taken down in 2014 so it put an end to much of the playerbase.
If you’re playing this game in 2017, you’ll probably run into a few issues. I’ve installed the game on my PC running Windows 10 and can’t even get into a game with it crashing. It may just be me or you may need to do some workarounds to get this game working. It is a 12 year old game so it isn’t easy on the eyes and the controls can definitely be improved. For its time, Battlefront 2 was a masterpiece.
3. Star Wars Battlefront (2015)
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Year of Release: 2015
The newest iteration of Battlefront has divided fans of the series. Many clamor to the old days of the games in the mid-2000s. I am not one of those people. I welcome all the changes made to the series and like the direction it’s going in. I haven’t let nostalgia blind me. I’ve had a lot of fun with this game since release and still play it currently.
One of the big issues with this game was the fact that it felt barebones on release and then charged $50 for a season pass feature four DLC packs. That’s an exorbitant amount of money to spend on one game so I could see where many people have issues with that. The “Ultimate Edition” is being sold for $40 today and features all the DLC packs along with the base game. It’s a great entry point for consumers and there’s a lot of fun to had with battles stretching from Hoth and Endor to the Death Star and Scarif. There is no single player campaign, something that will be remedied in the sequel, so don’t buy this game if you’re looking for something like that.
To me, nothing quite beats hearing your favorite Star Wars scores in the background while you’re blasting away at rebel scum in Cloud City. Star Wars Battlefront 2, not to be confused with Star Wars: Battlefront 2, releases later this year so it’s worth paying attention to whether DICE and EA listened to the criticisms to make a more complete game next time.
2. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Platforms: Xbox, PC
Developers: Raven Software, Vicarious Visions (Xbox)
Year of Release: 2003
The original Xbox sure did get a lot of Star Wars games. This game is the last release in the long Jedi Knight series. Instead of being in control of Kyle Katarn, this game allows you to create your own avatar and follow your own path. Whether you want to join the dark side or remain on the side of the light is completely up to you. You have access to all the force abilities you knew from previous games like push, pull, heal and lightning. The storyline is worth playing just on its own.
The real draw to this game is the multiplayer. The community isn’t as active as it once was but in its heyday, it was filled with people all waiting for their chance to show off their skills with a virtual lightsaber. The PC version still has a player base.This game introduced the Darth Maul-esque double-sided lightsaber to the video games so a lot of players got to have fun with that. This was an easy game to play but a hard game to master.
An update, remaster or sequel of this game would be much appreciated in 2017 or beyond. There hasn’t really been an experience like this with a lightsaber since the release of this game 14 years ago. It’s crazy how fast time flies.
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Platforms: Xbox, PC, iOS, Android
Year of Release: 2003
Did you really expect anything else? Another Xbox Star Wars title and another good game. KOTOR was developed by a much younger, much greener version of BioWare, the studio behind Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
The game takes place about 4,000 years before the events of the films so Bioware was given complete freedom in what to do with the story. What they came up with was something unmatched in many other games. This game is BioWare at their absolute best. Your character is Jedi, well will be once you get off the first planet, and what you do with your character is up to you. You can be as mean or as good as you want to be.
You are surrounded by a strong supporting class of characters that join you in your journey. The obvious favorite would be HK-47, a droid who hates humans and has plenty of humorous dialogue. All of the characters have a story that you can hear if you’re willing to put in the work of getting to know them.
It’s worth playing through this game a couple of times to get the full experience. It’s not a game Star Wars fans or RPG fans should be missing out on. The game is available now on iOS and Android devices as well as being backwards compatible on Xbox One so there’s no excuse to not play this game.