Ever since the 1977 premiere of Star Wars, fans have been eager to recreate their favorite moments from the films and find more ways to inhabit that galaxy far far away. With the advent of video games as a new entertainment and artistic medium, there was plenty of potential to realize those experiences in the digital realm. With more than 3 decades worth of games, the library of Star Wars video games has gained almost as much breadth and depth as the Expanded Universe itself.
But among all the virtual titles, some stand head and shoulders above the rest. These are projects where a deep love of the films of their world, and a commitment to giving fans a worthwhile experience are abundantly clear. They are games that offered a grand recreation of our favorite moments and offered us thrilling new adventures. They’ve transcended the rank and file of licensed video games to achieve critical acclaim and devoted fans all their own. Here are the 17 Best Star Wars Video Games of All Time!
17. STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT EA (2015)
Expectations were high for an 8th Generation AAA reboot of Star Wars Battlefront, especially when it was announced that DICE would be leading the development. DICE had a proven track record for developing high quality, chaotic, team based multiplayer shooters with interconnected levels to the battlefield, exactly the kind of experience fans would hope for in a new Battlefront game.
The final product was not necessarily everything fans had hoped for. The amount of content in terms of modes, units, levels and playstyles felt underwhelming to fans who had grown up with the original Battlefront games. However, despite the suspicious relegation of content to the season pass, a year of extra DLC content has significantly improved the game’s shelf life. The addition of more iconic Star Wars heroes and locations, including Scarif from Rogue One, has been a welcome treat.
16. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ATARI 2600 (1982)
The Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600 was the very first licensed Star Wars video game developed by Parker Brothers in 1982. The game is a simple side scrolling recreation of the Battle of Hoth where the player controls Luke Skywalker in his snowspeeder and tries to take out imperial walkers making their way towards the rebel shield generator.
All of the games assets were two dimensional, jagged-pixel, single color shapes, from the terrain, to the vehicles. The only animation to speak of in the game were the two-frame walking patterns for the walkers. But the game still managed to capture fans imagination. The player had to control the snowspeeder’s velocity and momentum enough to land 48 hits on the walkers head or torso to take them out.
Randomly throughout the game, the snowspeeder would be granted the power of the Force that would make it invincible to colliding or taking fire from the walkers. The power-up would also be accompanied by a chip tune version of the main Star Wars theme. It was the first game in a long history of capturing the fun of Star Wars.
15. STAR WARS EPISODE 1: RACER (1999)
Star Wars fans still hate on the prequels but almost everyone agrees that pod racing was one of the coolest new additions to the Star Wars universe from the film. Which meant is was sure to get a video game.
Star Wars Episode 1: Racer managed to capture a lot of the elements surrounding the scene from the movie and translate them into game mechanics. All of the unique looking alien racers that we saw in The Phantom Menace are unlockable characters in the game, along with their pods. Wato’s junkshop also appears in the game, so if you can tolerate his heckling, you can buy new parts for your pod to improve its stats.
There are multiple intergalactic tracks where racers can compete for the best times and tournament placements, including the Boonta Eve Classic from the film. Racers had to manage their engine boost and repairing their pod on the fly from overheats and obstacle damage.
14. STAR WARS: TRILOGY ARCADE (1998)
These high profile cabinets could be found throughout arcades in the 2000s. First released by SEGA in 1998, the Star Wars Trilogy Arcade is still one of the most visceral Star Wars gaming experiences out there. The game consists of 4 on rails shooter missions recreating each of the most iconic battle sequences from A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The joy stick controller really leant itself to some of the great heroic moments from the films. There’s nothing quite like reaching the end of the Death Star trench, hearing Obi-wan’s voice echo urging you to “Use the Force”, while you finagle with a joystick trying to aim your shot just right to send those proton torpedoes down the exhaust port.
And there were 2 bonus missions that let you use the joystick to control a light saber during duels against Boba Fett and Darth Vader. Even while following on screen prompts for deflecting, parrying and attacking, feeling the stick shudder and vibrate in your hand like a real lightsaber is a sheer delight, still unique in gaming.
13. STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED (2008)
No game like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed had ever been made before with that level of production values or action adventure style of game play. Right from the very first trailer when Darth Vader brings an entire Star Destroyer crashing down to the surface of Coruscant, fans could barely wait for this one.
We eventually learned that the story would follow a secret apprentice that Darth Vader took between the original and the prequel trilogy. A prodigy of destructive Force power, the apprentice would scour the galaxy for surviving Jedi and other threats to Vader’s power, perhaps even one day help Vader overthrow the Emperor himself.
While the game play had some obvious repetition and short comings, the sheer variety of force powers and lightsaber combos, combined with the game’s sophisticated physics, made for ridiculously entertaining opportunities. The story was also widely praised for its intrigue and further exploring the origins of the Rebel Alliance.
12. LEGO STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA (2007)
LEGO sets had been a core part of any young Star Wars fan’s enjoyment of the franchise for many years. But only around the mid-2000s did fans get to enjoy LEGO Star Wars and video game Star Wars in one package. Both the Prequel and Original trilogies were made into LEGO games on their own, but The Complete Saga, released in November 2007, contained both games.
Like in most licensed LEGO games the player could take control of numerous characters from throughout the events from the films depicted in each level. As you made your way through all the LEGO recreations of Tatooine, Naboo, Hoth, Endor, Geonosis, and both Death Stars among others, you had to collect hundreds of gold bricks to complete the game. LEGO Star Wars may be video game out there to successfully and purposefully poke fun at its source material. And it is still going strong with more LEGO games based on Episode 7 and the Clone Wars.
11. SUPER STAR WARS TRILOGY (1992 – 1994)
There’s nothing like the side-scrolling run and gun goodness of Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES days. Star Wars fans were ecstatic to get a portion of that classic gameplay with Super Star Wars, Super Star Wars Empire Strikes Back and Super Star Wars Return of the Jedi throughout the early nineties.
The games expanded and redesigned the films to make the levels brimming with platforming, puzzles and waves of enemies to blast through, all inspired by the characters in the films. Not to mention several outlandish bosses like a mutated giant womp rat and flesh-and-blood supersized figures from the space chess board. All of the films’ protagonists were playable for certain levels depending on when they appeared in the corresponding part of the film.
The Super Star Wars Trilogy for the SNES was the first time the original trilogy had been more or less faithfully recreated in their entirety in video game form. From the vehicle sections with MODE7 graphics to the numerous bosses, they’re still remembered as being punishingly difficult and riotous fun.
10. STAR WARS: REPUBLIC COMMANDO (2005)
Most of the time in Star Wars video games, you take on the role of the protagonists from the movies or at least another character with the powers of the Force. Not so in Republic Commando. In Republic Commando, the player takes on the role of ‘Boss’, a clone in the Grand Army of the Republic elevated to become the leader of a squad of elite clone commandos.
The game is broken up into 3 singleplayer campaigns each set throughout the Clone Wars. What really sets the game apart from other squad-based first person shooters is the robust contextual squad command system. Each well-designed level gives you opportunities to order your squad mates to utilize strategically placed ordinance, take up sniping positions, set proximity traps, breach locked doors or hold a position.
One of the best parts of the game was the dialogue among the squad. Since they were genetically engineered to be elite commandos, each of your squad mates, including ‘Scorch’, ‘Fixer’, and ‘Sev’, had unique voices and specializations to elevate them above the average clones. The game built up a tangible sense of comradery between the squad and the player.
9. STAR WARS: SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE (1996)
Shadows of the Empire was one of the earliest multimedia projects undertaken by Lucasfilm to add to the Expanded Universe during the intervening period between the events of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. A core part of that project was a video game developed by Lucas Arts for the N64 called Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and it was released in December 1996.
The game followed now fan favorite Dash Rendar, who’s more than just a knock off of Han Solo. Dash got his own cool freighter ship, the Outrider, high-tailing it across the galaxy to confront Imperial aligned characters in the galaxy like IG-88, Boba Fett and the Leader of the Black Sun crime Syndicate, Prince Xizor. The 3D action shooting and platforming was an entirely new Star Wars experience at the time.
Perhaps the game is most well remembered for happening to offer the first ever 3D console version of the battle of Hoth. Getting the unexpected chance to pilot a snowspeeder to take out AT-ATs and AT-STs was so rewarding that many players never bothered to continue past that first stage.
8. STAR WARS: EMPIRE AT WAR (2006)
A few different real-time stragety games had been made with the Star Wars license including Star Wars Force Commander and Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds. While they had been perfectly serviceable games, the game engines ported from other RTS franchises didn’t necessarily translate well to the space fantasy of Star Wars in terms of mechanics.
But in 2006, then Petroglyph Studios, set out to make a dedicated Star Wars RTS with Star Wars: Empire at War. The result was a much more dynamic, fast paced RTS that more accurately captured the style of battles in the Star Wars galaxy. Battles raged in orbit and across the surface of a planet between the defenders and the attackers. Bringing a planet under the player’s control leant additional resources to their war effort. Even though the game only featured the Empire and the Rebels as playable factions, the fully 3D battles and cinematic camera mode made each engagement a rewarding thrill.
7. STAR WARS: X-WING ALLIANCE (1999)
As the fourth entry in the now legendary X-wing games franchise, X-wing Alliance managed to bring quite a lot of new content and another noticeable improvement in visuals. Whereas previous installments had only let the player hop into the cockpit of Starfighters produced by the Rebellion or the Empire, Alliance let the player take control of a Corellian Freighter similar to Han Solo’s.
The story of the game followed Ace Azzameen, a smuggler who joins the rebellion in earnest after the Empire raids their family’s operation for smuggling bacta to the Rebels. Ace could earn medals as commendations for his success as well as special souvenirs viewable in his hub room.
Alliance was the first game in the series to boast voice-acted dialogue upon release. Microsoft also hosted multiplayer servers until 2004, but other private services stepped up to continue giving would be aces the chance to duke it out. You can still find devoted fans hosting multiplayer dogfights especially after the series was rereleased by GOG.com.
6. STAR WARS JEDI KNIGHT: DARK FORCES 2 (1997)
The original Star Wars: Dark Forces was a stand out from other early first person shooters of the day. It introduced alternate fire modes for multiple weapons, a wide variety of scripted level events and puzzles and multi-floor level designs for more complex adventures. The sequel, Jedi Knight Dark Forces 2, took fulfilling that first person star wars fantasy one step further by introducing light sabers and force powers in a first person action game.
Redeemed mercenary Kyle Katarn fought his way through the galaxy to avenge the death of his father at the hands of the Dark Jedi Jerec. As Kyle progressed through the story, the player could upgrade multiple light side, dark side or neutral powers as they saw fit, and make plot critical choices to affect the game’s ending, guiding Kyle to stay on the light or fall to the darkness. The game also boasted live action cut scenes to make the portrayal of the players’ decisions even more dramatic. The conventional weapons even made a return for those times when a good blaster was called for.
5. STAR WARS ROGUE SQUADRON 2: ROGUE LEADER (2001)
What a gem of a killer app for the Nintendo Gamecube this turned out to be. The N64 introduced console players to the cockpit of an X-wing with Rogue Squadron, and Gamecube players got to continue the fun with Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader.
The campaign missions spanned the entire original trilogy from the first Death Star battle to the second and included original story missions that let the player take control of all kinds of iconic starfighters from the films. Y-wings, A-wings, B-wings, Snowspeeders and of course X-wings were all playable. Each mission worked like an arcade game that could replayed for higher scores and overall metal ratings. If the player earned enough gold metals, they could unlock bonus missions and bonus vehicles including the Millennium Falcon, the Slave I, the Naboo Starfighter and even Darth Vader’s TIE Advance with homing cluster missiles. Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy even lent his voice to the game for the same character.
4. STAR WARS: TIE FIGHTER (1994)
TIE Fighter was the first successor to the immensely popular X-wing and the first game ever to let Star Wars fans assume the role of the bad guys. Set in between the events of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the player could take on several campaigns to secure the Empire’s hold on the galaxy against the troublesome rebels. The story also offered up two threats from within the Empire itself, letting the player dog fight against other TIEs. These internal conflicts also included the emergence of the legendary Thrawn as Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy. Fulfilling enough optional bonus objectives would let the player enter the inner circle of the Emperor himself and carry out missions specifically for him.
The level of polish to the game’s mechanics and visuals is still fondly remembered. For many Star Wars fans there’s no better way to get lost in the signature screeching of TIE engines. If Rogue Squadron 2 Rogue Leader was the zenith of arcade style Starfighter games, TIE Fighter represented the pinnacle of deep flight simulation Starfighter games.
3. STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT 2 (2005)
Somehow or another, nobody had thought to make a team-based sandbox multiplayer shooter set in the Star Wars universe until Lucas Arts and Pandemic Studios in 2002. The end product of that effort, Star Wars Battlefront, hit the shelves in 2004, and was met with great acclaim and popularity. So what do you do for the sequel? Bigger, better and brand new.
With all six movies to draw from, 2005’s Battlefront 2 had new maps, new units, new heroes, new vehicles, and new singleplayer and multiplayer modes for players to have fun with. And space combat! Plenty of Star Wars games over the years have tried to recreate specific moments from the iconic battles in the franchise. But for plenty of fans, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is the closest they’ve ever come to recreating the entire scope and pitch mayhem of Hoth or Endor or Naboo or Geonosis. There are still plenty of gamers who would rather play Battlefront 2 on independent servers.
2. STAR WARS JEDI KNIGHT II: JEDI OUTCAST (2002)
For many gamers the already excellent Star Wars Dark Forces/Jedi Knight games hit their peak with Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. The story this time finds Kyle Katarn having abandoned his training in the Force while working as a mundane badass in the service of the New Republic. But a mysterious threat from the Imperial Remnant and a new order of Dark Force users, forces Kyle to reclaim his training as a Jedi to save his friends and the galaxy.
Fans may have complained (especially compared to the sequel Jedi Academy), that you didn’t get your lightsaber from the beginning of the game. But Jedi Outcast’s story was much more cohesive and satisfying as you gradually built up your Force powers and chased Desann across the galaxy. The game also boasted one of the most dynamic lightsaber combat systems in any Star Wars game ever, allowing the player to cut down Stormtroopers en masse and win nerve wracking duels against Reborn and Shadowtroopers. Not to mention fleshed out cameos from film favorites like Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian.
1. STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC (2003)
Bioware’s original Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic is a landmark for Star Wars games and roleplaying games in general. With the freedom to explore a period in the Star Wars timeline nearly unheard of before then, Bioware crafted a whole new original adventure for players to embark on in that galaxy far far away.
The player takes on the role of an unassuming Republic soldier who steps up to the daunting task of stopping the Sith Lord Darth Malak’s assault on the galaxy. With a host of recruited companions at your side, deep planets to explore and exhaustive Force and non-Force skill trees to unlock, Knights of the Old Republic fully fleshed out this tumultuous era of Star Wars. And HK-47 is still hilarious.
By now, Knights of the Old Republic is legendary not only as an excellent game, but for its mind-blowing ending. If it is still at all possible, it deserves to be experienced unspoiled even now. It’s a revelatory capstone to the greatest Star Wars game of all time.
Are there any other games you feel must be included in a discussion of the best Star Wars games ever? Let us know in the comments!
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