The game that took place after the events of Empire Strikes Back hit you with action right from the very first mission. It combined the arcade style of Rogue Squadron and the 3D-action experience of Dark Forces, but this time from a 3rd person perspective.
However, unlike Rogue Squadron, you could change the view while piloting an aircraft and see everything from the cockpit, which added greatly to the sense of speed. You could also pilot other types of machinery, such as AT-STs and even huge starships in an outer space.
And, if you really wanted to challenge yourself, then Shadows of the Empire contained an option of a hard mode that had been praised by fans for its high level of difficulty.