Before the the extended universe became fan fiction and the voice of LucasArts cried out in terror before being suddenly silenced, there was a golden age of Star Wars games. Since the early 90s LucasArts have been involved in close to 100 Star Wars games, for the most part they have been good, sure there were a few every now and then that were cataclysmic piece of garbage, but most were playable. Given the release of Force Awakens and the inevitable shit storm of Star Wars posts, I thought I’d get in on the action and look back at some of the best Star Wars games out there.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Released in 1995 Dark Forces introduced Kyle Katarn, a mercenary who worked with the rebel alliance and pretty much the good guy’s answer to Boba Fett, except actually effective at his job. As Katarn you blasted your way through storm troopers and bounty hunters while investigating the Empire’s sinister Dark Trooper project.
Although I was only five when this game was released I vividly remember playing it with my dad as he controlled movements and I clicked to shoot. It’s one of those games that has stuck in my mind, replaying it recently it may not have aged well, but it still oozes Star Wars goodness. Each set piece has the look and feel of something that belongs in the universe and the weapons look the part to match. Dark Forces still feels like an authentic part of Star Wars lore, unlike that unfathomable piece of shit Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing.
Star Wars Battlefront II
Before the latest Battlefront, which I suppose is technically Battlefront III, the Battlefront games were actually well thought out and had a campaign with more than four maps.
Released in 2005, Battlefront II‘s campaign put the player in control of the 501st legion as they transitioned from fighting with the Jedi in the Clone Wars to becoming “Vader’s first” and battling the rebellion as stormtroopers.It managed to link together the prequel story and the originals in a way that didn’t shoehorn in every character George Lucas could think of. The inclusion of space combat also made the game a classic, you could board enemy ships and destroy them from the inside or simply cruise around blowing up fighters and turrets.
For those who preferred ground combat Battlefront II allowed you to relive some of the greatest fights from the films. You could pick between five classes and battle for control points through 20 settings from the prequel and originals trilogies. The game was also the first in the Battlefront series to introduce playable heroes, with 22 to pick from. There was even a special battle royale mode for the heores and villains set in Mos Eisley with the cantina song playing on a loop the entire time, what a time to be alive that was.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic
Released in 2003, Knights of the Old republic has retained a solid fan base mainly due to its brilliant plot and the added depth it gave to a universe so many of us are familiar with. Developed by BioWare this RPG style game took place 4,000 years before the original trilogy and featured a galaxy where the Jedi and Sith were both major factions, with the Sith leading a successful skirmish against the Jedi.
To avoid spoilers on a game released 12 years ago, the player takes control of an extremely powerful force user who is suffering from memory loss. Progressing through the game they acquire a group of allies, including a wookie, a twi’lek, an expert pilot, a droid and a wise old Jedi. Depending on how you played your character could become aligned with either the Jedi or the Sith, a decision which impacted the final ending of the story. Through turn based combat you battled enemies through a wide range of settings as you slowly became more powerful with the force.
However the game did have a difficulty wall… one which aggresively shanked a 14 year old me leaving me unable to complete it. A particular Sith boss that ambushes you no matter which path you take was so OP I couldn’t defeat him and progress. Still, fun times nonetheless.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Back in control of Kyle Katarn, the 2002 game Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is one of my favourite Star Wars games of all time. The plot may not have been the best, especially when compared to KotOR, but it was excellent in terms of gameplay and level design. It progressed from being a shooter to a full on Jedi simulator as you took on remnants of the Empire and the dark Jedi Desann.
When wielding a lighsaber the game felt great, cutting through enemies and blocking their shots you felt like a truly powerful Jedi knight. With the added ‘g_saberrealisticcombat’ cheat you could slice off storm trooper limbs in a beautiful way the films could never show, stormtrooper arms would fly all over the place. Progressing through the story you decimated enemies with powers questionable for a Jedi, including force joke and lightning. When fully developed lightning was so OP the game was as as simple as running around lightning your way through levels like Emperor Palpatine on speed, but even that was fucking amazing.
There was also a multiplayer mode for Jedi Outcast that was chaotic fun. Battling others online with extreme force powers and lightsabers being thrown all over the place was an experience.