There have been a lot of titles based in the Star Wars universe, and I mean a lot. From the very first, unlicensed Star Wars title that appeared on cassette tape for the Apple II computer back In 1978, to the upcoming reboot of Star Wars Battlefront, there have been some amazing games set in George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.
The question is, out of almost 40 year’s worth of Star Wars games, which ones are the best? Which Star Wars titles are worthy of the original trilogy, as opposed to being shameless cash-ins on par with the prequels? These are the titles that were considered exceptional at the time, and are still a joy to play even today.
From Polis Massa to Korriban, from the Old Republic to the Galatic Empire, and from Darth Bane to Darth Vader; the Star Wars mythology is as expansive as it is loved. Here are the eight greatest Star Wars video games.
8. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
It may be targeted at younger audiences, contain no dialogue, and remake the entire universe using everyone’s favorite Danish plastic toy, but Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy is a superb and hilarious reimagining of the first three movies (the real first three).
Today, the Lego video games have pretty much reached a saturation point, but back in 2007 the games were still a new and exciting phenomenon. Being able to choose your favorite characters from the original trilogy, the fun puzzles, and the intense satisfaction that comes from smashing and building those Lego blocks made this game a massive, and well-deserved, hit.
It’s also worth pointing out that Lego Star Wars II is still one of the best co-op games to play with a partner or kid who “doesn’t really like games.” On a personal note, this was the first console game I had ever seen on a High Definition television, but that’s probably more do with me living in Hicksville than anything else.
7. Republic Commando
Here we have what is possibly one of the most underrated games of all time; Republic Commando was the best thing to come from the prequels since… errmm… well… okay, so it was possibly the only good thing to come from the prequels.
The game puts you in the boots of special ops clone trooper RC-1138, an elite Republic Commando (a class that was created specifically for the title). But this first-person shooter is no Call of Duty/Halo ‘clone’ with a Star Wars skin; you undertake your missions with three fellow commandos, all of whom you can order about and issue context-sensitive commands. Republic Commando is closer to Rainbow Six than Halo
The game has some fantastic moments, particularly the sections that required your whole squad to work as a coherent team. Each commando has his own unique personality, skills and preferred position; they may be clones, but every member of your squad is individual enough for the player to form an emotional attachment to them. Republic Commando also kept the Star Wars tradition of having a stirring musical score. This is an amazing, criminally underrated game, and one that was well ahead of its time.
6. Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II
The GameCube really did have some excellent exclusive games: Eternal Darkness, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and of course, Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II. This second game in the Rogue Squadron series is arguably the best in the franchise, although some N64 fans may give their vote to the original – but they’d be mistaken.
Rogue Squadron II gives players pretty much the complete Star Wars air combat arcade experience. The game puts you in the middle of some of the movies' most famous battles, including the battle over Endor, the Death Star trench run and the battle of Hoth.
The game was met with universal critical acclaim on its release. Not only did it have some stunning gameplay and graphics (for the time), but as it was a GameCube launch title, Rogue Squadron II become one of the best reasons to buy Nintendo’s console.
5. Star Wars: Battlefront 2
What do you get when you take the tried and tested Battlefield formula and mix it with George Lucas' Universe? Only the finest Star Wars multiplayer first-person shooter the world has ever seen.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2 lets you choose battles set during the Galactic Civil War or the Clone Wars. Players choose from four classes and the game offers a plethora of Star Wars vehicles and weapons to kill people with. Battlefront 2 also added hero characters to the original game who were comically unbalanced - which made them all the more fun to control.
Battlefront 2 is also that rarest of things: a Star Wars game that doesn't put the fate of the galaxy in your hands. You’re just a grunt taking part in a massive battle, yet you never feel like your actions don’t matter. With the reboot just around the corner, will it live up to its predecessor?
4. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Most people have their favorite Jedi Knight game. Personally, I find the final entry in the series, 2003’s Jedi Academy, to be the highlight of the franchise. Some may prefer Jedi Outcast or Dark Forces II, but for me, Academy was the full package.
Jedi Academy is the quintessential Star Wars first/third-person game. Not much can match Battlefront 2 for multiplayer (at least until the new Battlefront comes out, probably), but for single player action, this is the Jedi’s nuts.
In Jedi Academy, players start with a lightsaber from the beginning - which is a bonus, as the saber fighting is the best ever seen in a Star Wars game to date. You get more freedom in Jedi Academy than in any other games from the series; it also has a good story and a strong multiplayer element. This is a game that really makes you feel like a powerful force-wielder, and is a lot better than The Force Unleashed.
3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Following in the footsteps of the first Knights of the Old Republic was never going to be an easy task. And it was a feat made all the more difficult by the fact that in order to hit its projected release date, Obsidian was forced to develop the game in only a year and a half - resulting in a load of content being cut and KOTOR 2 shipping with more bugs than a bait store.
And yet, despite all this, it's still a phenomenal RPG. This was probably the darkest Star Wars game ever made. No longer were the light and dark sides of the force clearly defined; the game, much like real life, had plenty of grey areas. Making a choice was no longer a matter of picking the ‘good’ or ‘evil’ option - there were unforeseen consequences to everything. Often, helping a character would lead to bad things happening to them - like giving a beggar money who is subsequently beaten and mugged for it.
And then there was Kreia, your mentor who seems to spend the entire game criticizing your every move - unless you act as neutral as Switzerland. Despite her constant bitching, she is still an amazing character who shows how the force isn't just a simple matter of black or white but something much deeper.
Knights of the Old Republic 2 may not always work, but it doesn’t matter, it’s amazing. Both this and its predecessor were two of the very few games I restarted the moment I completed them.
2. X-wing vs TIE fighter (with the Balance of Power Expansion)
Nothing can recreate the feeling of being a Rebel or Imperial pilot the way the X-Wing series does. These games aren’t arcade-style shooters, but fully-fledged space-simulations that replicate the intricacies of flying these iconic ships.
The third game in the series, X-Wing vs TIE fighter, was a visual and mechanical improvement over its predecessors, but the game was designed almost exclusively for multiplayer. While this wasn’t an entirely bad thing, the campaign from the previous titles was a miss… that is until the Balance of Power expansion was released.
The expansion brought new battles and missions, but most importantly it added Imperial and Rebel campaigns that the base game had been crying out for – and they even supported 8-player co-op. Balance of Power was what the game needed to seal its place as the greatest Star Wars space flight game ever made.
With a bit of resurgence in the space-sim genre of late, surely the time is right for a reboot of X-Wing vs TIE fighter? Imagine a modern version on today’s machines – and with VR integration! Now there would be a Kickstarter worth funding.
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Sometimes, a game comes along that just blows you away; something that you’ve never seen before, and actually makes you thankful that you’re a gamer. In 2003, Knights of the Old Republic was that game.
By setting Knights of the Old Republic thousands of years before the movies, BioWare gave itself the freedom to reinvent the Star Wars universe the way it wanted. There were no set-in-stone rules to follow, no characters the company felt compelled to include - this was Star Wars the way they envisioned it. Plus, it’s based on the d20 role-playing game system, meaning KOTOR is essentially Dungeons and Dragons for those who prefer blasters and Jedi over beards and wizards.
If you’ve played a BioWare game before, then you know what brilliance to expect; fantastic dialogue, strategic party-based combat and amazing RPG elements, all wrapped up with some inspiring music and great visuals – especially for the time.
The game has a plot twist that (spoiler) outdoes Vader’s revelation that he’s Luke’s unlikely Dad, contains one of the greatest ever characters to originate from outside the movies, gives players the option to become a champion of light or a servant of darkness, and is, quite simply, wonderful.
Twelve years after its release, Knights of the Old Republic is still the greatest Star Wars game ever made. It somehow manages to take the essence of what made those original movies so brilliant, and expand upon it. If you’ve never played the game, get it now, it’s even now available on the iPad.
Knights of the Old Republic: Better than princess Leia in a bikini.