Star Wars Episode VIII - The Last Jedi is in cinemas soon! There’s a brand new trailer out, along with a poster, and tickets are on sale now! Plus, Star Wars Battlefront 2 just had its Beta extended! Now’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan, so we thought now was just right to update our list of the Best Star Wars Games On PC… so we have!
Please bear in mind though that this is official PC-only, so emulators don’t count. Bye bye Rogue Leader! So long Super Star Wars! Get lost Masters of Teras Kasi! We’ll list the Runners-Up followed by the Top 8 Greatest Star Wars Games Ever, but first off let’s look at the ones that didn’t quite make it…
The Spaceballs (These Aren't The Games You're Looking For)
Starfighter: Attempted to occupy the middle ground between Rogue Squadron and X-Wing and ended up satisfying fans of neither. It’s still worth picking up but the Phantom Menace-only setting hampers the nostalgia value.
Star Wars Galaxies: A worthy first try at a Star Wars MMO, set in the classic trilogy and by the makers of Everquest no less, but bad design decisions and constant overhauls killed all player interest followed by the game itself.
Shadows of the Empire: Despite being the forerunner to the Rogue Squadron series it’s honestly pretty damn unplayable. I’ll force myself to play it, but it ain’t great.
Rebel Assault Series: The first is just terrible, the second is terrible but at least has an original fully-acted story. I can’t advise you get either though, and not just because the difficulty spikes will make you punch your monitor in.
Force Commander: What should have been a cool 2D RTS was turned into an atrocious 3D RTS at the last minute. Don’t play it.
The Phantom Menace: Funnily enough the only direct movie tie-in on PC. Play it and realise why that’s a good thing.
Yoda Stories: Just no.
Right, now on to the actual games you want to play! For excitement’s sake let’s countdown with two lists, shall we? The merely Good… then, the Great!
The Runners-Up (They've Got It Where It Counts, Kid)
For the third attempt by LucasArts to make a strategy game in a galaxy far, far away they basically just went “poodoo, let’s just wholesale copy Age of Empires”. And lo, Galactic Battlegrounds was born. I’m not exaggerating either, this game was a straight-up mod of Age of Empires II. This ultimately leads to a very fun game of course, but one with quite a few quirks. For example, Gungans as a faction are technologically on-par with the Galactic Empire, Jedi can convert enemy units to their side as if they were Monks, and worker droids require food. Worth playing for sure, but don’t expect something wildly imaginative.
Fun Fact: The game copied Age of Empires II to such an extent that LucasArts had to put Ensemble Studios (AoE’s developer) on the box and officially license the engine!
EPISODE I RACER Developer: LucasArts Released: 1999 Genre: Racing Available on: Not currently available
There are two good things that came out of The Phantom Menace: Darth Maul, and this game. Episode I Racer succeeds where the movie failed, in that it’s actually fun. LucasArts nailed exactly what players want from a futuristic WipeOut/F-Zero-style racing game, which equals “speed”, “tight controls” and “simplicity”. Don’t go over-the-top with heavy weaponry or silly level design, just make the cars/podracers fast and the tracks fun to shoot around. Episode I Racer was exactly this. It may be very basic, and it must be the only Star Wars game ever to have boring music, but it’s fun and at the end of the day what more could you ask for?
Fun Fact: Racer actually made an appearance in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. In the seedy bar on Coruscant near the beginning of the movie, look at the sports screen on the left.
The first attempt at creating a real-time strategy in the Star Wars universe, here inspired by Master of Orion, has received something of a renaissance. At the time this was utterly hated. Critics lambasted the lack of ground missions, the ugly graphics even for 1998, and the confusing interface. Look to the player reviews on GOG.com however and you’ll see nothing but glowing reports. Despite the problems the three most important parts to make this Rebellion endure are present: the strategy, the deepness of the gameplay, and the love of Star Wars. If you want a Star Wars 4X strategy you should be pleased with it.
Fun Fact: Rebellion was titled “Supremacy” in the UK and Ireland. No one quite knows why. It either has something to do with a board game or Aliens Vs Predator developers Rebellion, who are based in the UK.
ROGUE SQUADRON 3D Developer: Factor 5 Released: 1998 Genre: Arcade Action Shooter Available on:GOG.com
Without doubt one of the finest Star Wars games of all time is Rogue Leader, the gorgeous arcade-y flying shooter that allowed gamers to visit every battle and planet in the Classic Trilogy. Unfortunately we don’t have that on PC (no, Dolphin doesn’t count), so we have to make do with the first in the Rogue Squadron series which simply isn’t as good. However while the graphics have aged it’s all still incredibly fun and addictive, and the tight controls, great sense of challenge and classic setting rates it far higher than the okay Starfighter.
Fun Fact: The series was a spin-off from Factor 5’s own Shadows of the Empire, whose first level flying around on Hoth was received so much better than the rest of the game that LucasArts asked Factor 5 to make a new game entirely based around it. Additionally, Factor 5 were working on a trilogy remastering of the entire series when they closed.
BATTLEFRONT I & II Developer: Pandemic Studios Released: 2004/2005 Genre: Online Shooter Available on:GOG.com, Battlefront I not currently available
For many gamers, the Battlefront series IS Star Wars. The first game successfully converted the Battlefield formula into the Star Wars universe, and Battlefront II expanded it beyond all imagination, introducing a cool campaign, special Heroes characters themed for each map including the likes of Yoda and the Emperor, maps from all the movies, and space combat. It’s no wonder to us why people are complaining about the lower amount of features in EA’s new Battlefront when Battlefront II gave fans so much. It still looks and plays kinda ropey, but it’s moved up this list due to GOG making the game playable online again! Hooray!
Fun Fact: Developers who worked on the cancelled Battlefront III include Pandemic, Free Radical (TimeSplitters), Slant Six (SOCOM), Spark Unlimited (Lost Planet 3), and LucasArts themselves before Disney and EA handed it to DICE. Battlefront 3 assets actually ended up in Slant Six’s Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City of all places, which not only lost them the Star Wars license but the Resident Evil one too.
THE FORCE UNLEASHED Developer: LucasArts Released: 2009 (on PC) Genre: Action/Adventure Available on:Steam
Considering the lacklustre port and the atrocious sequel (which I’m pointedly not including as part of this entry) you may be surprised seeing this game so high. While undoubtedly not a great game, with its poor camera, ridiculous rollercoaster of a difficulty curve and that sodding Star Destroyer bit, The Force Unleashed is high for one reason: it’s a big-budget interestingly-written near-canon Star Wars story, and the only reason it’s not canon is because of Disney. It’s still bags of fun, prominently features Darth Vader, and tells a proper story that feels like a movie. Most of the other games on this list feel like great games - but The Force Unleashed feels like Star Wars, so much so that it’s probably the game I’d be most likely to play. And that’s why it’s so high. Seriously, f*** that camera though.
Fun Fact: Starkiller voice actor Sam Witwer would go on to voice several iconic Star Wars characters in various games and cartoons, including the Emperor, Darth Maul, and The Son (the embodiment of the Dark Side, opposite Nathalie “Juno Eclipse” Cox as The Daughter). Additionally the game’s powerful “Purge Troopers” are an early stage version of the Dark Troopers from Dark Forces.
STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT Developer: DICE Released: 2015 Genre: Online Shooter Available on: Origin
EA’s first Star Wars game is undoubtedly not perfect. It had a lack of content at launch and a removal of many of the cool ideas Pandemic’s Battlefront II introduced, most of which DICE are putting back in for November’s Battlefront 2. Nevertheless when it works, it’s truly amazing. DICE got the Star Wars look and feel utterly perfect, and most of the time even dying can be fun. Galactic Assault is incredibly epic, Heroes Vs Villains is just a big bag of fun, and now the Season Pass is free there’s plenty of content too, including maps and scenarios based on The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Still worth a go, but the vastly better Battlefront 2 will probably make it obsolete.
Fun Fact: DICE visited LucasFilm and accurately modelled every vehicle based on the original movie models, and even visited the set locations (such as Norway for Hoth) to make everything look accurate.
DARK FORCES Developer: LucasArts Released: 1995 Genre: FPS Available on:Steam, GOG
I debated long and hard with myself whether to put this over the next game in this list, bumping it to the hallowed “greatest Star Wars games” section, but I just couldn’t do it. While Dark Forces has some fantastic level design, a fun storyline, levels filled with secrets that you’ll miss unless you go exploring, and a focus on pure FPS gameplay without all that Jedi stuff… it just has too many quirks to recommend. No mid-level saving (even Doom has that), no look up/down on mouselook, and it’s difficult to get looking nice. It’s still great, but I’d struggle to recommend playing it now unless you’re really committed and really nostalgic.
Fun Fact: The Dark Forces series up to Jedi Knight would get remade as a series of young adult novels, which themselves became a full-cast audio drama. It’s like a brand new movie!
And now ladies and gentlemen, in honour of the imminent release of Episode VIII we now present the Top 8 Greatest Star Wars Games on PC!
The Top 8 Star Wars Games On PC! (The Finest Pilots In The Resistance)
8. DISNEY INFINITY 3.0 Developer: Avalanche/Disney Released: 2016 Genre: Action/Adventure Available on:Steam
Wait, didn’t this close down? Well, yeah. But then Disney made the base game available on its own on Steam, complete with all Playsets and Characters, just with no online content or paid DLC. Which is a good thing, for the most part. That nets you full games based on The Clone Wars, Classic Trilogy and The Force Awakens, with the ability to play as most of the best characters from those franchises, with full voice acting. You can mess about in the levels, do side missions or follow the actually-kinda-fun story. The combat’s surprisingly good too, as it’s done by Ninja Theory. It’s the only game on this list with all three Star Wars time periods, and while kiddie-orientated it is fun. Definitely.
Fun Fact: There’s also a story Playset based on Pixar’s Inside Out included too, although that’s more of a straight crappy platformer tie-in.
7. THE OLD REPUBLIC Developer: Bioware Released: 2011 Genre: MMO Available on:Website
Yes, it’s very much a typical WoW-style MMO, and yes everyone (including EA and Bioware) would’ve preferred a straight offline sequel to a series further up this list. Nevertheless the sheer scope, breadth, and content of The Old Republic dwarfs any game here. Play as Jedi, Sith, Stormtroopers, Bounty Hunters, and Han Solos of various races and genders and freely explore giant worlds over the entire Star Wars universe! Take part in many epic stories, more of which are still being added four years later! Fight with a companion or in a group of players online! Most importantly, unlike The Elder Scrolls Online or many other MMOs the game takes into account if you’re in a group and alters conversations so that everyone gets involved! Finally, if you don’t want to spend any money you can play the entire game for free and you’ll be fine (although I do advise buying something as that’ll give you a few handy perks). Yes it’s a bit of a time sink like any MMO with too much wandering over unnecessarily big areas, but if I judged “best” on “fun value for money” The Old Republic would win hands down.
Fun Fact: Disney have stated that everything in Star Wars after the buyout would be canon, including Star Wars Battlefront. So does that mean that The Old Republic is canon? It’s still getting story content this year, and it is EA after all. I say yes. So yay, that means Revan’s canon!
6. LEGO STAR WARS SERIES Developer: TT Games Released: 2005/2006/2007/2011 Genre: Adventure/Platforming Available on:Steam
We still maintain that the LEGO games present fanboy dream franchise games that fanboys refuse to acknowledge because of the LEGO thing. The Star Wars franchise represents the pinnacle of LEGO perfection. In The Complete Saga you can play through all six movies and see them perfectly parodied without any of that modern voiceover nonsense, then collect every character in the entire series. I couldn’t care less about unlocking Amanda Kirby or Nick Van Owen in LEGO Jurassic World, but I’d walk through fire to get hold of Yak Face or Nien Nunb to play. The Clone Wars is more advanced and still just as good-humoured. And The Force Awakens adds multi-building and a cool shooter cover-system. They’re all pure fun for all ages, and isn’t that exactly what Star Wars is about?!
Fun Fact: LucasArts were so apathetic about the first LEGO Star Wars that it became the first Star Wars game since the original Atari arcade game not to have the LucasArts/LucasFilm Games logo on the box. After it became the 10th best-selling game of 2005 they soon changed their tune. A similar thing happened with Disney and Pirates of the Caribbean.
5. EMPIRE AT WAR Developer: Petroglyph Released: 2006 Genre: RTS Available on:Steam, GOG
After so many false starts in trying to create a Star Wars RTS LucasArts looked to the ex-Westwood team at Petroglyph to finally get it right… and they did! Empire At War has the Rebellion and Empire going at it for the future of the galaxy, giving the player control over many different types of units, including specials like Darth Vader, in epic land and space battles. The land battles were tough and tactical but admittedly a little confined, but the space battles were amazing. The ability to target different areas of starbases for different effects (like destroying Hangars to stop fighters from harassing you) was a stroke of genius, the action cam was useless but beautiful, and if you played as the Empire you could fire the Death Star once you’d built it and wipe out the entire planet. You even get to flip the switch yourself. Drool.
Fun Fact: Actor John Armstrong played Han Solo and would go on to voice Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings. He is currently the most recent person to play Indiana Jones, and that was six years ago. Hurry up Disney, Harrison Ford won’t last forever.
Finally, a Prequel Trilogy game that’s actually great. Republic Commando shows a grittier version of Star Wars from a soldier’s point-of-view. Set during the Clone Wars and leading right from Geonosis to the initial invasion of Kashyyyk (the fans know what we’re talking about), this shooter offered a cool style, great and challenging gunplay, immersive level design, and then just when you think it can’t get any better LucasArts unleashes the showpiece: squad command. Using a simple, intuitive interface players can easily order fellow Commandos Fixer, Scorch and Sev to do certain actions, and impressively the correct one would always follow the right order - for example Scorch would blow up a door whereas Fixer would hack it quietly. Republic Commando was amazingly designed, innovative and incredibly fun, and I’m still heartbroken that the planned sequel Imperial Commando never happened.
Fun Fact: The series continued as an excellent set of novels by Karen Traviss and eventually became the promised Imperial Commando. However Traviss was so disappointed that The Clone Wars TV series wiped her version of Mandalore (a huge part of the novels) out of canon that she quit the series, and hasn’t returned to Star Wars since. The Clone Wars would eventually bring in the Commandos, and introduced Mandalore’s moon Concordia as basically Traviss’ version of the planet.
3. X-WING/TIE FIGHTER SERIES Developer: Totally Games Released: 1993/1994/1997/1999 Genre: Space Combat Available on:GOG
There are plenty of people who will hold the four game X-Wing series as still the greatest Space Combat Sims of all time. At GameWatcher we call those types of people “correct”. The sheer recognisability of the ships and the epic music take the games a long way, but the wonderful missions, uncluttered interface, depth of combat, and satisfying game progression take it to the top of the class. It even still looks pretty good. X-Wing Alliance may be the most up-to-date but most cite TIE Fighter as the series pinnacle, mostly because it’s fun to be the bad guy. Oh, and Evil Blue Red-Eyed Sherlock a.k.a. Grand Admiral Thrawn’s in it, making it the best thing ever.
Fun Fact: Developer Totally Games and Raven Software are the only two developers to have made games based on Star Wars AND rival space franchise Star Trek. Additionally while it’s not the only game on this list to receive books, the X-Wing series is the longest with ten novels. The last in the series, Mercy Kill, was the final novel released in the pre-Disney Expanded Universe.
2. JEDI KNIGHT SERIES Developer: LucasArts/Raven Released: 1997/2002/2003 Genre: FPS/Action Adventure Available on:Steam, GOG
While Dark Forces II in name, the continuing adventures of Kyle Katarn changed forever the moment he picked up his father’s lightsaber. And while some were sad that the purity of the Dark Forces gameplay was abandoned what came out was the best series of Jedi simulators LucasArts would ever release. Some may have better stories (see the Number One on this list) or higher production values (The Force Unleashed) but none offer better lightsaber combat or as satisfying a range of Force Powers. Furthermore the level design was consistently amazing, with some wonderful use of verticality. Oh, and in all bar Jedi Outcast you could turn to the Dark Side and even become the new Emperor. Yay!
Fun Fact: This is the only Star Wars videogame series set entirely after Return of the Jedi, and the live action FMV in Jedi Knight was the only post-Battle of Endor scenes filmed by LucasFilm until The Force Awakens. Interestingly the Dark Side ending of Jedi Knight, featuring a shuttle carrying a Dark Side user flying across an industrial area on Coruscant through a vertical-raising hangar door to the Imperial Palace, was re-used by ILM during the finale of Attack of the Clones where Count Dooku meets Darth Sidious.
1. KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC SERIES Developer: Bioware/Obsidian Released: 2003/2005 Genre: RPG Available on:Steam, GOG
It was a close one between Knights of the Old Republic I & II and the Jedi Knight series, especially as the combat is infinitely more satisfying in the latter, but for the overall experience KOTOR feels most like you’re playing through a proper epic Star Wars story. The first game abandons everything from the movies and yet is infinitely more Star Wars-y than the prequels, with an embattled Republic desperately holding out against the evil Sith Empire lead by the despicable Darth Malak. The destruction of Taris is shocking, the wonderful twist halfway through challenges “I am your father” for the biggest gut-punch of the franchise, the superb range of characters illustrate Bioware at their best, and the whole thing feels like an epic fight for the galaxy.
Obsidian’s sequel may have a rushed ending but the companions are arguably better, while the story gleefully takes Star Wars clichés apart and challenges player presumptions, like how the elderly Force mentor is actually the main villain. Oh, and the Steam version of KOTOR2 has just been patched to incorporate the fan-made Restored Content mod so the full story can now be played exclusively on PC. Together the Knights of the Old Republic games represent Star Wars games at their best, and if they don’t get a remake, proper sequel, or Anthology Movie in the next few years I’ll bend my wookiee.
Fun Fact: KOTOR writer Drew Karpyshyn would continue the story of Revan and the Exile in the Old Republic novel Revan. These lead into his Darth Bane novels where Karpyshyn would establish the Sith Order’s “Rule of Two” that states there can only be two Sith Lords at any time. Thanks to The Clone Wars bringing in Darth Bane these novels are now mostly canonised, reinforcing my opinion that the Knights of the Old Republic series is canon. Hooray for me.
Well, there you have it folks: the best Star Wars games in the galaxy we call PC. How many do YOU own?! And how many will you be buying or replaying between now and December 15th? For us the answer to both questions is “all of them”. Leave a comment below with your own opinions on the list, just none of that poodoo-talk. And remember, GameWatcher will be with you… always. Now I must be going, my planet needs me.