With Star Wars Jedi: Survivor now just days away from returning us to a galaxy far, far away, we thought it was high time we reassesed the best Star Wars games of all time. This was no easy task.
Looking online, it seems there have been approximately 64,534 Star Wars games released since the first film hit theatres in the ‘70s. (Editor’s note: That’s incorrect.) But, while many of them are good, some are really, really good. These are the kind of games that are so great that even non-Star Wars fans can’t deny how excellent they are.
For this list, we didn’t set any restrictions. New games, old games, PC games, console games, handheld games, remakes, ports, and more were all valid options. Basically, anything that is considered a video game and has Star Wars slapped on the box could appear on this list. And before we get to the main entries, here are a few honourable mentions that didn’t make the cut but are still worth shouting out:
- Star Wars Arcade
- Rogue Squadron 2
- Galactic Battlegrounds
- Racer Revenge
- and Jedi Starfighter
Fantastic games all, but just not quite good enough to crack our top ten. I await your angry messages and comments. (Editor’s note part 2: I myself am furious that Rogue Squadron 2 didn’t make the list, unconscionable — David)
Anyway, here are the ten best Star Wars games ever made, in no particular order!
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
No, you’re completely right, the numbering of the LucasArts Star Wars game makes about as much sense as Activision’s for Call Of Duty. Jedi Knight II: Outcast is indeed the sequel to Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, which absolutely had Jedi Knight: Mysteries Of Sith release between the two. Fortunately, you could pick up any one of those games and still have a completely marvellous time.
So why are we highlighting this one? LIGHTSABERS. To be fair, all of the previous Jedi Knight games made the fizzy wands feel awesome, but when Raven took over development duties, it became next level. It also let players mix up Dark and Light Force powers, rather than having to opt into one side or the other. But it’s the lightsaber combat that everyone remembers the best. If you want to play it today, make sure to load up on fan-made mods that run it smoothly on your fancy PC.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Many have longed for a big, open-world Star Wars game. Finally, it has arrived, but it comes in a surprising and blocky format via Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Yes, some may scoff at the idea of a Lego Star Wars game appearing on this list of the best Star Wars games ever made, but it totally counts and deserves to be here and here’s why.
No game before has contained all of the main Star Wars films and, likewise, none have opened up the Star Wars galaxy like this. Skywalker Saga lets you explore all the planets you know from all the films you like (and don’t like) and in a way no other game has done before. The end result is a fun, silly, and oddly compelling recreation of Star Wars. It’s a game that every jaded or tired Star Wars fan should play just to have fun in this universe again and to remember how dumb and goofy Star Wars can be. It’s something Skywalker Saga embraces perfectly.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
It’s not just one of the best Star Wars games of all time, it’s one of the best games of all time. Knights Of The Old Republic still stands as one of BioWare’s finest hours, an extraordinary RPG that looked at the dire state of the franchise in 2003 (the nadir between Episodes II and III), and said, “Sod that, let’s set it 4,000 years earlier.”
In this galaxy far, far away, but even longer ago, Sith and Jedi were already at each other’s throats, but the Galactic Empire was a twinkle in the space-milkman’s eye. It’s vast, spread across multiple planets, with dozens of storylines to sink hours into. It remains one of the finest tales told in the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: Republic Commando
So much of Star Wars is focused on the Jedi, with force-this and lightsaber-that. It’s fine, but gets a bit boring. Republic Commando, on the other hand, is all about showing the Star Wars universe from the perspective of a clone trooper during the Clone Wars. In this tactical FPS, you don’t just play as any trooper, in Republic Commando you are a clone commando. These are elite, highly skilled soldiers sent on the toughest and most dangerous missions, often in small, special squads.
Republic Commando lets you command one of these squads, using a simple but effective order system, letting you direct your squad to hold positions, provide cover, set up bombs, or unlock doors. Without a lightsaber, the force, or even a cool starship, you feel more vulnerable than usual in a Star Wars game, making each gun fight a tense but rewarding experience. However, be prepared for a terrible cliffhanger ending, one which will likely never get resolved.
Star Wars: Battlefront II (Classic)
Sure, EA and Dice’s recent Battlefront 2 looks incredible and features some fantastic combat. But the original Battlefront II is still the better game in our book, and not just because the classic is free of loot crates. The original Pandemic-developed shooter is a bigger and more Star Wars-y experience, letting you play through a single-player campaign following the 501st Clone Troopers and featuring more planets than you can shake a lightsaber at.
It also features a long list of vehicles, EU-inspired classes and weapons, and more. I mean, this game has Galactic Conquest in it, a mode that lets you take on an AI or another player in a galaxy-wide tactical board game that just so happens to include third-person shooter action and space combat too. What we’re saying is: This is a damn good game and future Battlefronts should copy it.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Most see Respawn Entertainment, the company behind Titanfall and Apex Legends, as a shooter studio. Jedi Fallen Order shows that they can do a lot more.. Starring Cal Kestis, this Star Wars action-adventure game mixes Dark Souls with lightsabers to create a surprisingly tricky, yet very good game.
Set five years after Revenge of the Sith, Kestis is a former Jedi padawan hiding on a junkyard planet. Eventually, the Empire finds him and begins hunting him down. With the help of a ragtag crew of misfits, Kestis is able to escape the Empire and do some good in the process. If you loved the Jedi Knight games, Fallen Order will scratch that same itch, though be prepared to die a few times. OK, maybe more than a few times…
Star Wars: Squadrons
Star Wars is a franchise that features a lot of space battles and starships. And as you might expect, that means a lot of Star Wars games are all about spaceships fighting each other. EA Motive’s Squadrons is the latest and best-looking attempt at this kind of Star Wars game, letting you jump into the cockpit of iconic Star Wars ships, including X-Wings and TIE Fighters.
While it might not (yet) be a bona fide classic like some other, older Star Wars space combat games, Squadrons is still a blast and features tight flight controls and just enough simulation to make it feel like more than an arcade-y spin-off. Its narrative is strong too, even if it once again relies on the ol’ “Imperial becomes a good guy” trope that so much modern Star Wars relies on. Oh, and you can play the game in VR if you have a suitable headset and a stomach for that kind of stuff.
Star Wars: Empire At War
It’s weird how few Star Wars RTS games are out there considering the universe seems perfect for that type of thing. You have multiple, well-defined factions and each has a long list of comparable, but different vehicles and warriors. Plus, the entire universe is in a constant state of large-scale war. Yet, the last real Star Wars RTS we’ve got was Empire At War, released back in 2006. Thankfully, it’s very good.
Empire At War is set in that fun time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It’s a time when the rebels are still trying to come together to take on the Empire who are still busy building the Death Star. Empire At War’s campaign builds up to the events of A New Hope and the Battle of Yavin, featuring linear campaign missions as well as a larger, sandbox mode known as Galactic Conquest. The game also features both space and land battles, as well as famous heroes and villains like Darth Vader and Obi-Wan. Today, the game is effortless to play on modern PCs and the Steam version even has workshop support, making it easier than ever to mod this classic RTS.
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Dark Forces has no right to be as groundbreakingly stunning as it remains today. This came out in 1995, during the golden era of first-person shooters, when teams like id and 3D Realms were heralded as titans of gaming. And then along came LucasArts, the people who made 2D point-and-click adventures, and they knocked it out of the park. This was the first 3D shooter to let you look up and down! Before Quake did it!
But more importantly, Dark Forces had, and still has, some of the best maps ever designed for a single-player FPS. The Wonderfully convoluted explorations of Sith bases, or terrifying, vertigo-inducing cliffs on Hoth, made me feel like I was inside Star Wars for the very first time. Add the mouselook mod, and it completely holds up today, all on the strength of that stunning world design.
Star Wars: TIE Fighter
LucasArts’ X-Wing series of space flight combat sim games is not so much well-loved as feverishly adored, and it’s likely everyone’s favourite is dictated by whichever one they played first. But in hindsight, with a fair dash of nostalgia, we’ve picked TIE Fighter as the example to herald here. The 1994 game did extraordinary things with the extremely limited, pre-3D graphics of the time, and more importantly, had you play as the baddies.
1995’s CD-ROM release then boosted this with SVGA graphics, voiced cutscenes, and a whole new expansion, letting players defeat those pesky Rebel whingebags in proper pew-pew-pew space battles. The whole thing was made playable on modern machines when it was re-released on GOG in 2014, meaning you can see for yourself why this stands as an all-time classic.
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