You’ve seen that there Star Wars, right? Course you have, ’cause you’re a rad person. You like ’em too, right? Yeah ya do. Did you know they made some games based on them? You did? Man, your finger is on the fucking pulse. But I know what you’re thinking ‘which ones are worth my time?!’ Don’t worry kid. Sit back, strap on your C3PO replica mask and lemme take you on a journey.
Before anyone starts: no, TIE-Fighter is not on this list, neither is Jedi Knight, Shadows of the Empire or any of those other ones that people always mention. ‘Why not you blithering idiot? They’re amazing!!’ I hear you scream into the void that separates your reality from mine. Easy: I’ve never played them and really can’t imagine they’ve aged well so I doubt I ever will. Short minded? Me?! Naaaah. Just lazy. Reeeeeeal lazy.
Super Empire Strikes Back
Easily the best/worst tie in games ever made. Famously playing loose with the films: areas glanced on screen for seconds become entire levels, creatures that pass by in the background become fully-fledged bosses. But for all the liberties taken, the games are damn good. Animations captured the characters perfectly – check out Han’s shooting pose, even if you had no idea what game this was, you’d know it was supposed to be Solo. Combine some challenging platforming and excellent vehicle sections powered by the dullest named tech ever; Mode 7 to round it all off.
So why Empire? The snow levels on Hoth mainly. Battering around as Luke on the back of a Tauntan, getting revenge on that Wampa before transitioning into a Snowspeeder and taking down At-At’s like a modern day ‘Attack of the Mutant Camels’ – the Battle of Hoth is a section that’s appeared many time in Star Wars games, but this is the first time it felt right. And bless the SNES’ sound chip for trying to recreate John Williams’ score, it’s close enough to encourage the same wave of nostalgia in me as the real thing.
Best lightsaber animation ever too.
Knights of the Old Rebuplic
Easily the best Jedi simulator ever made. A familia formula these days since Bioware have built on these games for its Mass Effect series, but the luxurious Star Wars coat it wears still looks and feels fantastic. The story is famously one of the best things Star Wars has done, full of great characters, scenarios and twists spanning a wide scope of the Galaxy.
Every planet the story takes you to is full of incredible sights. The shiny, towering metropolis of Taris, the woods of Kashyyyk and of course, the desert of Tatooine, all distinctive in their look and the people who inhabit them. The big one for me is Korriban, an ancient Sith graveyard and home to the Valley of the Dark Lords. This ominous sounding place is a stunning landscape of long forgotten tombs and looming, crumbling statues that feels like it hides a millennia of evil somewhere beneath its crumbling surface.
As this is Bioware and its Star Wars, there has to be a Good/Bad mechanic. The morality system is incredibly black and white, but it helps make your slide to the Dark Side easier. See, the Jedi get a bit of a rough deal in terms of powers. Jedi’s get all passive healing abilities and combat boosters, whilst Sith get mother fuckin’ force lightning. One branch of lighting drains the life out of your enemy and gives it back to you, so you can easily walk into a room of 15 bad guys, unleash the power and kill everyone without taking any damage. Overpowered? A little, but oh so fun.
There’s the story options that are opened up depending on your choices too. As a full blown Sith, I was given the option to talk one party member into killing his son and another one into killing his life long friend. Yeah…I fully embraced that Dark Side.
And if for some reason you’ve never played it, you can now play it perfectly on your iPad/phone/android device so really, there’s really no excuse.
This one’s simple. An arcade shooter putting you in control of a variety of ships from Star Wars fiction as you bomb around levels taking down Empire craft and completing objectives. The main reason for including this, the main reason it sticks in my head is the unlockable Death Star Trench level. Having never been lucky enough to play Star Wars Arcade on 32X or the arcade, this was my first time of experiencing the trench run in full 3D. And it’s done well, real well, especially given the N64’s penchant for blurry visuals. Take a look at the video below and try and stop yourself from grabbing an N64 emulator…
I was pretty sure this was going to be a big ol’ bag of sloppy poo when I first saw it, mostly for the ties it shares to Episode II. But it turns out to be a damn good squad-based shooter. Order ya boys around to cover, taking sniper positions and hacking doors in a way that actually makes a difference to how well an encounter goes. Order then badly and chance are you’ll all get wiped.
A little visual note that I really love is the edges of your mask being visible. That’s some grade-A immersion there. Though the links are a bit tenuous, there’s more than a hint of this game in Halo: Reach. The feel of your squad being actuall individuals with personality traits that you’ll connect with adding another layer to keeping them alive. A surprisingly solid shooter and great use of the license.
The First Ten Minutes of Force Unleashed
Ok so this game isn’t really that great, it’s a real solid 7/10 if there ever was one. Not that I pay any service to review scores, but you get me. But that opening section is a solid 10/10. Storming around a battlefield picking up Rebels and Stromtroopers with the Force, destroying all who dare to step in your way with the full power of Lord Vader’s wrath at your command…it is I N C R E D I B L E. The rest of the game kinda goes flat, throwing Force-resistant enemies at you dulls things a lot, but anytime you step into a room full of basic Stormtroopers and you unleash pure hell onto them, it feels brilliant. Just never lives up to that opening promise.
Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
It’s Age of Empires with a Star Wars skin and that souls be everything you need to know. Command an entire troop of Stormtroopers, AT-AT’s, TIE-Fighters and Sith Lords and achieve what Vader couldn’t: crush the Rebellion.
Yeah, you can play as other factions: Rebels, Trade Federation, Royal Naboo and Wookies…but really, you’re here to play as the bad guys, right? Right.
And sure, there’s some inaccuracies with the time lines, but I don’t think this is supposed to be cannon, it’s a chance for you to live out your fantasies of being a Galactic Empire commander and in that it excelled.