Last Updated: May 12th
Need something to occupy you as you wait for Star Wars: Episode VIII to come out? Well, why not play a Star Wars video game? There’s certainly enough of them – there have been more than 100 Star Wars games released over the past three-decades-plus, covering pretty much every genre imaginable.
Most Star Wars games are pretty good, or at least above average by licensed game standards, but when you make more than 100 games, a few of them are sure to be stinkers. So, here are the best Star Wars games every Jedi-in-training should play, and some other games that should be shipped off to the Sarlacc pit…
Note: We’re going to start off with the 10 best Star Wars video games, then we’re taking a turn to The Dark Side with the five worst.
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The Force is With Them
10) Star Wars Battlefront (PC, Xbox One & PS4, 2015)
The latest Star Wars Battlefront may not be a perfect game, but it is a groundbreakingly beautiful one, which really immerses you in the world of Star Wars in a way few other games ever have. Will Star Wars Battlefront stand the test of time? Maybe, maybe not, but right now, in late 2015, it feels like it at least deserves to be in the conversation when discussing the most notable Star Wars games of all-time.
9) Star Wars (Arcade, 1983)
The Star Wars arcade game’s first-person perspective and 3D wire-frame graphics were ahead of their time, and the gameplay was surprisingly smooth and satisfying. For whatever reason, Star Wars arcade machines are pretty rare now, but if you ever see one, you really need to squeeze into that sit-down cabinet for some TIE fighter-blasting fun.
8) Star Wars: Battlefront II (PC, Xbox & PS2, 2004)
The original LucasArts-published Battlefront titles were a different beast than the recently released EA-published Battlefront. Star Wars: Battlefront II wasn’t as pick-up-and-play as the new game, but it was more strategic and featured a full story mode. These kind of online-focused games aren’t for everybody, but there’s no denying the impact of Star Wars: Battlefront II.
7) Star Wars: Dark Forces (PC, Mac & PS1, 1995)
Star Wars: Dark Forces is a typical mid-’90s shooter, which is to say it’s simple and relatively shallow, but also fast, fun, and very approachable. Basically, this is the Doom expansion you never played, except with droids and stormtroopers in place of demons. How can you say no to that?
6) Star Wars Episode I: Racer (PC, N64 & DC, 1999)
Star Wars Episode I had its share of flaws, but come on, most of us kind of enjoyed that podracing scene, right? Well, thankfully LucasArts expanded the best part of Phantom Menace (after Darth Maul’s double-sided lightsaber, natch) into a full game. Star Wars Episode I: Racer was one of the best racers on the N64, which is actually saying something, as that was one of the few genres the system was really strong in.
5) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (PC, Mac & Xbox, 2004)
Much like the first game in the series, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords was an immersive Star Wars experience almost as huge as its title is long. The game had a few issues – it was glitchy, and its story just wasn’t as fun as the first KOTOR — but on balance, it was still a damn good lightsaber-swinging RPG.
4) Star Wars: X-Wing (PC & Mac, 1993)
Star Wars: X-Wing is part shooter, part flight simulator, with a bit of graphic adventure flavor mixed in for good measure. The game basically dropped everything that was popular on computers in the ’90s into one big pot, and the end result was memorable, fun and packed with personality. The flight sim elements add depth to the gameplay, but there’s still a good amount of slick, mindless blasting. The balance was perfect. Up until Star Wars: X-Wing, no game had come close to capturing Star Wars so well.
3) Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (GCN, 2001)
The game that sold a million GameCubes. Actually, probably a lot more than a million GameCubes. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II served as an introduction to PS2/GC/Xbox era graphics for many gamers. Its visuals still hold up and engaging in vicious dogfights over the surface of Hoth or the massive Death Star remains as exhilarating today as it was 15 years ago.
2) Star Wars: TIE Fighter (PC & Mac, 1994)
Star Wars: TIE Fighter took everything great about Star Wars: X-Wing and made it just that much better. Beyond the basic improvements, the game set itself apart by being one of the first Star Wars games to let you play from the perspective of the Empire. Right from the opening crawl, which describes how the Rebel “terrorists” struck a “cowardly” blow against the Death Star, the game flips the script in a fun way. Pretty much the perfect Star Wars game. Well, almost.
1) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC, Mac & Xbox, 2003)
Somehow, the Star Wars game fans had always dreamed of actually happened. A deep, satisfying roleplaying experience that truly let you inhabit the role of a Jedi from a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic wasn’t just a good reflection of the Star Wars movies, it expanded the Star Wars universe in meaningful ways, and frankly, told a better story than any of the Star Wars prequels that were being released at the time. Keep a copy of this one close by, just in case The Force Awakens end up disappointing and you need to go to a guaranteed Star Wars happy place.
Moving from the best of the Star Wars games to the ones best left alone.
The Dark Side
5) Star Wars: Obi-Wan (Xbox, 2001)
This was one of those forgotten early Xbox exclusives that came out before Microsoft had really figured out the whole video games thing. While you can have some fun tinkering around with the force, Star Wars: Obi-Wan is, for the most part, ugly, bland, and tedious. Ol’ Ben deserved better.
4) Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels (Wii, 2008)
As soon as Nintendo unveiled the Wii’s motion controls, pretty much every nerd’s mind immediately jumped to Star Wars. The Wiimote would be perfect for lightsaber battles we all naively thought. Unfortunately, decent motion-controlled sword fighting never really panned out. Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lightsaber Duels was LucasArts’ best attempt at doing motioned-controlled battles, but it didn’t really deliver. The game is ugly, bone simple, and like so many motion games, the controls just don’t work. Swing and a miss.
3) Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes (Xbox 360, PS3 & Wii, 2009)
A year after the disappointment that was Lightsaber Duels, LucasFilm followed up with The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes. This game is split between boring PG third-person shooting and terrible platforming that will make you long for the more shooty bits.
2) Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi (PS1, 1997)
Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi was the series’ attempt to do a 3D fighting game, but it turned out to be more Shaq-Fu than Tekken. The game barely had more depth than Pit Fighter and was horribly unbalanced (anybody with a lightsaber would immediately trounce any fighter without one). With that said, I (and many others) would love to see another Star Wars fighting game so long as it rose above this mediocre offering.
1) Kinect Star Wars (Xbox 360, 2012)
Kinect Star Wars isn’t just the worst Star Wars game ever, it was also more-or-less the death knell for the whole motion control craze. All of Kinect Star Wars‘ modes are broken or painfully unfun in some way, but the mode that truly puts this title in the Garbage Game Hall of Fame is the Galactic Dance-Off in which marionette-limbed versions of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian get down to terrible Star Wars parody songs like “Hologram Girl” and “I’m Han Solo.” I’m pretty sure this game may be the reason George Lucas sold Star Wars. Why would you want to own anything that’s been associated with Kinect Star Wars?
There you are, 10 games Star Wars fans should track down, and five that should be avoided like the Death Star. What are some of your favorite Star Wars games? Which ones burned you like an overheated blaster? Hit those comments and let’s nerd out.