The 10 best Star Wars video games the universe has ever seen
From the Super Star Wars trilogy to The Force Unleashed, the best first-person shooters, role-playing games, Lego-themed releases and more associated with the space opera whose eighth instalment, The Last Jedi, is in cinemas this week
So far, the movies have been limited to the Skywalker saga, but the Star Wars video games have enjoyed more freedom, exploring the far reaches of its far-far-away galaxies through dozens of role-playing games (RPGs), first-person shooters (FPS), third-person adventures and an almost unmanageable number of Lego-themed releases.
Some games are great, others less so, and a few are filled with controversy – most notably, the new release Star Wars: Battlefront II, which landed developer Electronic Arts in a firestorm of controversy over its micro-transactions.
With the eighth Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, hitting Hong Kong cinemas on December 14 and gamers eager for some interactive light sabre duels, here are the 10 greatest Star Wars games of all time (minus any Lego or mobile releases, of course).
OK, so we’re cheating a bit here: these are three games, not one. But their connected original trilogy storylines, coupled with indistinguishable gameplay, makes them one big release to us. The simple side scrollers let you to play as Luke, Leia, Han and others, through 50-plus action-heavy levels set across Tatooine, Hoth and other Star Wars landmarks.
Some stages were a snap, others near-impossible, but all of them allowed early gamers to relive their favourite flicks in glorious 16-bit.
Revolutionary at the time, Dark Forces took advantage of the mid-’90s, Doom-led FPS trend, for an in-your-face rebel adventure that was heavy on Stormtrooper blasting. Here was the Star Wars we always wanted to see: down dark Star Destroyer corridors, across abandoned planets and facing off against alien beasts.
Stealth dynamics, alongside a range of weapons, made it stand out from the glut of FPS games that had then flooded the market.
We didn’t want to include any sequels on this list – but despite the name, Jedi Knight was no mere follow-up, with the game’s popularity spawning an entirely new franchise. Here, gamers were thrown into an FPS setting with a light sabre, an awesome assortment of Force powers and the ability to join the Dark Side.
Why Battlefront 2 pay-to-win feature, pulled after gambling accusations, is not alone in testing players’ purse strings
What more could you ask for? It was the ultimate Star Wars fantasy. Sequels Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy arguably did the series better by building on the concept, but the revelation of the original is hard to top.
4. X-Wing Alliance (1999)
The X-Wing/TIE Fighter space-sim games saw LucasArts at their peak of their efforts, and it all culminated in X-Wing Alliance, the last game in the series. Boasting a story as strong as its predecessors, dogfights as brutal as ever, and the chance to finally fly the coveted Millennium Falcon, its blend of piloting and shooting offered variety that appealed to the masses. The early inclusion of voice work led to the character-driven battles we now see in most Star Wars games.
You won’t find Bounty Hunter on most best-of lists and its inclusion here mostly comes down to originality rather than quality. Part of the mid-2000s third-person trend, players took the reins of Jango Fett (father of Boba) as he blasts his way across different action-heavy missions using a ridiculous number of weapons: flame throwers, sniper rifles, thermal grenades. It was simplistic and a little stupid, but the novelty of spinning around in your jetpack made it the right kind of brainless fun.
Often considered the greatest of all Star Wars games, this was a much-needed dose of gravitas at a time when the series standard was racist caricature Jar Jar Binks. An RPG set 4,000 years before the prequels, the game encouraged players to search the vastness of the universe, as they faced moral conflicts on their path to Jedi master or Sith lord. With a story to rival the movies, fully realised characters, as well as a throwbacks to the original flicks, there was no better experience for Star Wars geeks.
No, not the controversial recent version that’s been all but boycotted by the gaming public. The original Battlefront II was a groundbreaking release that turned all those rose-tinted Saturday morning imaginative toy battles into a fully realised game. Here, gamers were armed with an incredible assortment of heroes, villains and vehicles, to battle across familiar planets and (unlike its predecessor) the far reaches of deep space. It was engaging and fully interactive, made all the better by the pioneering 24-player multiplayer mode.
8. Republic Commando (2005)
Nostalgia for the first three Star Wars movies is misplaced: wooden acting, hammy dialogue, awful battles, and worst, how the supposedly epic Clone Wars were ignored. Thankfully, Republic Commando filled in some of the gaps. A strategic first-person shooter, you managed a clone squad of four on sleek, innovative missions, encountering familiar faces along the way.
Plenty of games get Star Wars right, but you’ve got to be a heavy geek to truly get into most. The Force Unleashed was a game for the non-geek, wider public, taking the viciousness of Jedi Knight, the epic scale of Battlefront and the involving tale of Knights of the Old Republic, for a third-person action-adventure any casual fan could enjoy. As Darth Vader’s rogue apprentice, your Ronin-like journey was one of devastating missions and shocking twists, making this more movie-like than many on the list.
Hype was high for The Old Republic, a multiplayer game that came from the developers of Knights of the Old Republic. The expensive subscription service killed a large part of that but it still stands as an impressive galaxy-spanning game, one that skilfully blended single-player campaigns within the context of a larger multiplayer world. The release ultimately signalled the death-knell of Star Wars games though, with Empire-like greed seeing nothing of worth released since. But, as a silver lining, Old Republic is now free to play and the newer campaigns are said to have righted a lot of the previous wrongs.