The silver screen introduced us to the captivating story of Star Wars, but video games took it a step further and allowed us to interact with the galaxy far, far away. There has been a rich history of Star Wars PC games. Being one of the most popular franchises in the science fiction world, Star Wars has served as an ideal setting for a video game. There have been some games that have done the brand great justice, while others have felt like cheap cash-ins to take advantage of the famous license. From the 1980s to 2013, Star Wars games have been appearing on just about every video game platform. The first game was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 1982 on the Atari 2600 and for the Mattel Intellivision in 1983. It was a humble beginning, but that game would set the stage for what was to come. With the growing popularity of the personal home computer, more developers jumped on board and it wouldn’t be long before the shelves were stocked with games carrying the Star Wars logo. Advances in modern technology has allowed for games that can reimagine the mystical Star Wars universe, allowing gamers to explore worlds as seen in the films and explore new ones of the expanded universe. There have been a ton of Star Wars games, but which ones are the best?
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
Released in 1998, Rogue Squadron was one of the first great 3D games to make use of the Star Wars license. When you were growing up watching the Star Wars movies, you probably had dreams about piloting one of those beautiful spacecrafts, joining in on a great battle in the sky while saving the galaxy. Who didn’t want to take the place of Luke Skywalker in his X-Wing? Star Wars: Rogue Squadron gave you that opportunity. Developed by Factor 5 and LucasArts, Rogue Squadron was a space combat simulator that put you behind the controls of a variety of famous spaceships and had you hunting down TIE Fighters, droids, and other Imperial enemies across different planets. The game featured a unique plot centering around Luke Skywalker and his Rogue Squadron teammates, including Wedge Antilles.
One of the most entertaining parts of the game was getting to play out some famous scenarios from the films, including the battle at Hoth and the famous Death Star trench run. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron was an excellent game for its time period. The controls worked excellently, making it one of the most enjoyable flight combat games available. It was truly astounding to have the freedom to fly around the planet as you wished, completing the objectives when you were ready. Even today, it’s still fun to hop in a Y-Wing and hunt down some Imperials, even if the graphics might not look as good as they once did. Unfortunately, many newer PCs won’t be able to run this game.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
While many games give the player the ability to relive famous moments from the Star Wars movies, Knights of the Old Republic used the Star Wars setting as a backdrop and created an entirely new story. Before they were known for the Mass Effect trilogy or Dragon Age series, BioWare was behind this expansive role-playing game set thousands of years before the Star Wars films take place. Knights of the Republic was an immersive experience with memorable characters and an engaging plot that changes based on your decisions. You can play hero and become a Jedi Knight, or if you’re feeling more villainous you can align yourself with the dark side as you seek to conquer the galaxy. Knights of the Old Republic is seen as one of the best Star Wars games of all-time, and with good reason.
My personal favorite character build was Scout/Guardian. This deadly combination allowed for a character with dual wielding capabilities, master speed, and a flurry attack. A lot of options opened up once you knocked a few rungs of the leveling up ladder. I really felt like I was a powerful Jedi, slicing down any foe who dared to step in my path. The Scout/Guardian class build served me well. What’s fun about Knights of the Old Republic is how much variety there is in experimenting with classes. You can follow my path and create a Scout/Guardian, or experiment with a different build and see what kind of things you can do with it. There are a lot of possibilities. The game holds up nicely to this day and can be found for relatively cheap.
Star Wars MMOs
If you ever wanted to explore the Star Wars universe at your own pace, there’s a couple of games that give you that opportunity if you just jump into your computer screen. In 2003, Sony Online Entertainment brought Star Wars Galaxies to the market, allowing users to get as close to living in the world of Star Wars as possible. Though the servers are no longer up for this game, it was a hit at the time and maintained a dedicated community for many years to come. Similarly to Knights of the Old Republic, Galaxies let you choose a path and build up your character. What made Galaxies so appealing is that you could do this not by yourself, but with the many other people around the globe who were experiencing this same thing. It was one of the first really big MMO games. The appeal of fighting alongside real people or fighting others was new and we were witnessing the birth of a new addiction.
When Galaxies was shut down, a new Star Wars MMO was there to take its place. Star Wars: The Old Republic was developed by BioWare and promised to trump the online Star Wars experience set by Galaxies. The Old Republic has a huge world to explore and so many options that it could be intimidating to someone who is inexperienced with MMOs. The Old Republic lets you take control of your own character, complete missions across the universe, earn your own spaceship, and interact with one of the largest communities in the MMO world. Star Wars: The Old Republic is a fan’s dream, made evident by its popularity. It’s hard for me to recommend a game like this to anyone because it’s so easy to become lost in the game and never come out. If you’re tired of your real life and would rather live in the Star Wars universe, maybe in the near future we’ll have some kind of Matrix system where you can permanently plug yourself into a Star Wars MMO.
Star Wars Battlefront
There are a lot of great Star Wars games out there, but to me nothing compares to Star Wars Battlefront. It had everything I wanted from a Star Wars game rolled up into one. Virtually every major battle in the six Star Wars films could be re-enacted in Battlefront. Rather than taking control of an overpowered hero or villain, you were just an average soldier going into battle against hundreds of equally matched soldiers. You could fight on foot, hop in a turret, or pilot a vehicle. What put the game over the top was the grandiose scale. Soldiers were everywhere on the map, fighting in their own battles. You and some teammates could be in a Republic Gunship, engaging in aerial combat, while your other team members were scattered out down below, fighting their own battles and capturing command posts.
Battlefront could support 64 players online, creating some chaotic battles on the expertly designed maps. The great thing about Battlefront was that even if you didn’t have access to online play, the offline battles actually felt like you were battling hundreds of real players. Battlefront created many amazing memories. I’ll never forget what it feels like to see your number of reinforcements deplete into the single digits and know that you have to go on a strong run with this single character to claim a victory for your side. A sequel was released a year later, adding playable hero and villain characters and battles in space. Battlefront II improved upon the already great gameplay and improved the graphics.
The games are still very playable today. There are many classes to choose from and the best way to get good in Battlefront is to play around with the different classes and find which one suits your play style. Are you a grunt soldier, taking a standard assault rifle into battle? Maybe you’re best at a distance as a Scout Trooper armed with a sniper rifle. Perhaps a pilot who gets bonuses in vehicles, drops ammo and health packs for teammates, and can repair vehicles? Of course, much of the fun in Battlefront comes from having the option to play in a variety of ways. Even once you find your niche and settle in, it’s always fun to branch out from time to time and have fun playing with the strengths of each and every class.
Sadly, the Battlefront series went on hiatus for a long period of time. Many were beginning to fear that we had seen the last of Star Wars Battlefront. That is, until E3 this year, where it was announced that DICE, the guys in charge of the Battlefield games, would be taking over the series and that they were currently working on a new game. Here’s to hoping DICE will provide us with another great Battlefront game that brings some great gaming memories like the first two did.
Star Wars PC Games
Being a fan of Star Wars and video games has provided many great experiences over the years. Star Wars PC games explore a creative science-fiction universe and are typically packed full of gripping action. We’ve had the gift of being able to enjoy some very good games over the last thirty years. These games allow us to take control of the characters we grew up idolizing, from Luke Skywalker to Anakin, to completely new characters in the universe. As the Star Wars franchise continues to expand, there’s no doubt that we’ll see even more video game adaptations. As Disney takes hold of the rights, we’ll see new developers tackle the Star Wars license, hopefully bringing some fresh ideas to the table.