The greatest day of the year is approaching at light speed! No, I am not one of those people that start the countdown to Christmas on the 1st of January. I am, of course, referring to Star Wars Day. Every year on May the 4th, I celebrate my love for the franchise set in a galaxy far, far away by watching the movies, reading some stories, or most importantly based on this list, playing some good ole’ Star Wars video games. We (I) did compile a list of our (mine) top 10 Star Wars games here at Gaming Respawn just over five years ago, but things change, new games come out, older games get…older. It is time to update and expand this list with Star Wars Day 2022 approaching us at light spee……nope, already used that one! Okay, it is time to get this mother Bantha list started as May the 4th is approaching in 12 parsecs! Here is Part 1 of our top twenty Star Wars games.
20. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008)
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is what you would call a mixed bag. It has some truly great aspects and moments, but it also has many flaws and faults. Released back in 2008, it told the (then canon) story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Starkiller. Lord Vader sent Starkiller all over the galaxy to hunt down the Jedi that survived Order 66. The story was decent enough to keep you interested, unfortunately, the gameplay wasn’t. The Force Unleashed was great fun…for about an hour or so. The hack and slash combat and extremely linear levels meant that after the first couple of levels, you would be going through the motions. The Force abilities were fun, but it wasn’t enough to save The Force Unleashed from being a game that looked amazing during production but didn’t match expectations on release.
19. Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds (2001)
Star Wars is a perfect franchise for an amazing RTS game, right? Well, there have been a couple, and Galactic Battlegrounds was the first attempt. For the most part, Galactic Battlegrounds is a fun title. You could command legions of your favourite troops and have some intense battles. It even still looks okay by today’s standards. So, why so low down on the list, I hear you ask? Well, as much as Galactic Battlegrounds is a lot of fun, it is also pretty much just a re-skin of Age of Empires II. It was a surefire way to make sure Galactic Battlegrounds would be a success, but from someone who played a lot (and I mean a lot) of AoE back in the day, Galactic Battlegrounds always felt just that bit too familiar.
18. Star Wars: Squadrons (2020)
Star Wars: Squadrons take place after the events of Return of the Jedi, with the Empire trying desperately to fight back against the newly formed New Republic. You will play as both fighters from the New Republic and also the Empire, all the while creating your characters! Don’t expect deep and varied customisation options in mind, you can choose from half a few different character models and choose your name. Still, it is a nice touch and helps you feel like you are part of the story. Gameplay is fun…but the controls can be far too overcomplicated at times, which will kill interest in the game. It is almost like the developers wanted to have a deep space combat game like Elite: Dangerous, then changed their mind but left some of the controls in. Squadrons is a fun game to play, but with a severe lack in a multiplayer community, there isn’t much replayability once or if you finish the campaign.
17. Super Star Wars and the Sequels (1992/93/94)
The first Super Star Wars celebrates its 30th birthday this year! This release and the two sequels that followed have proven the most difficult to rank here. I’ve lost count of how many times it has moved up and down in the draft lists, but I think 16 is a fair place for it. Back in the early 90s, Super Star Wars was fantastic, and even in the years that followed, it was always the “go-to” game when talking about Star Wars video games. Time has not been too kind to these releases, however. Taking those rose-tinted nostalgic glasses off, Super Star Wars may have been an amazing release back in the day, but on its 30th birthday, not so much.
16. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (2002)
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter could have been a lot higher on this list if it wasn’t for one frustrating issue: the controls. More specifically, the camera is the issue in what is otherwise a fun third-person action shooter. Set ten years before the events of Episode II, we see Jango Fett in his absolute prime as one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy. Bounty Hunter takes you across the galaxy on a variety of missions, using many of the gadgets we see in the films throughout.
15. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (1997)
This was more than just a video game release, Lucasfilm created a multimedia-wide branching story: comics, books, trading cards, toys, and of course, the titular video game. Set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Shadows of the Empire introduces us to Dash Rendar, who gets caught up in the Battle of Hoth. Shadows of the Empire is one of those releases where its ideas are far better than the execution. The real enemy in Shadows is not the Empire itself but the camera. It was also a title that did show the limitations of cartridges as the game was released exclusively for the N64.
14. Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith (2005)
We don’t get movie tie-in games that often these days, but in the 2000s, they were rather popular. Most major film releases had a video game released alongside, some good, most awful, though a few were passable. Episode III sits sort of between good and passable. It follows the plot of Episode III with some cutscenes from the movie to help the story along. The gameplay? Was a lot of fun! Lightsaber combat is a blast when done right, and this was a decent try. The settings of the various levels were a tad disappointing because it was pretty much all set in corridors of the movie locations, but Episode III was and still is an enjoyable game with an incredible secret ending!
13. Star Wars: TIE Fighter (1994)
Suffering the same age-related issues as Super Star Wars, during the 90s and even into the 00s, TIE Fighter was the king of the space dogfight sims! It still is a blast to play now, and it was a refreshing change to view the war from the Empire’s side for once. This is not an easy sim to just pick up and play, mind, not like the ship combat in Battlefront, for example. It will take a while to master how to shoot down those Rebel scum, but with perseverance and patience, TIE Fighter is still a lot of fun.
12. Star Wars: Empire at War (2006)
Star Wars: Empire at War is a game that does exactly what it says on the front cover. Set between Episodes III and IV, the Rebel Alliance campaign mode sees you controlling numerous attacks on Imperial installations, freeing the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk and learning about the Empire’s secret weapon (the Death Star). The Imperial campaign has you taking orders from the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader, as you try and crush the Rebel Alliance before they can do any real damage. Empire at War is slightly different from most RTS games; if you engage in a battle, you can only use the forces you have brought with you. There is a limit to the number of troops and vehicles you can have on the map at any one time, and the extra forces are kept as reinforcements which can be called upon when your numbers start to diminish.
11. Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995)
Doom and Quake may get all the attention for the titles of best FPS games of the mid-90s, but Star Wars: Dark Forces should also get an honourable mention. The graphics for the time were rather good, it has to be said, and the level designs gave us some challenging yet fun gameplay. Dark Forces also introduced us to one of the old Expanded Universe’s beloved sons, mercenary-turned-Jedi-turned-mercenary Kyle Katarn. Dark Forces also introduced mechanics that are very much the norm now, but back in 1995, they were a huge deal. Kyle could not only look up and down but also crouch! If it wasn’t for the absolute masterpieces that will come in part 2 of this feature, Dark Forces would have been higher on our list for sure.
Well, there we have it. Part 1 of our top 20 Star Wars games. In part 2 we cover the top 10 greatest games in the Star Wars franchise. For everything Star Wars games related, make sure to check back in with Gaming Respawn.