Every successful movie franchise is almost inevitably followed by a video game franchise, but Star Wars is in a whole other league. The classic movie series, which is now almost half a century old, is accompanied by over a dozen video game franchises – yes, not over a dozen games, but entire franchises, along with numerous standalone titles.
In this article, we’ll be going over our selection of the very best Star Wars video games, in no particular order.
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Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic
Release date: July 15, 2003
Platforms: Xbox, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Knights of the Old Republic, or KotOR for short, is not only among the best Star Wars games out there, but it is one of the best RPGs ever made. It is one of the crowning jewels of BioWare, an acclaimed RPG developer who also gave the world other major RPG series such as Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect.
The game itself takes place some 4000 years before the events of Star Wars Episode IV (3956 years before the Battle of Yavin, to be precise), a decision that allowed BioWare a lot more creative freedom when it came to telling their story, as they wouldn’t have to be limited by the existing plot and lore established in the movies and other Star Wars media.
KotOR uses a modified DnD combat system, so it plays more like a classic RPG rather than a modern action RPG. The player can control a party of up to three characters, including their own custom protagonist and two additional companions. That said, the player is encouraged to form a team whose abilities best complement each other in order to create a more effective fighting force.
All in all, KotOR has a lot to offer: diverse locales, a relatively simple but engaging combat system, and most importantly, plenty of memorable characters and storylines. The plot has a very “Star Wars” feel to it, so it is a must-play for any Star Wars fan, as well as for any RPG fan in general.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Release date: December 6, 2004
Platforms: Xbox, Windows, macOS, Linux
The sequel to the original KotOR was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, and while the gameplay fundamentals are still largely unchanged, KotOR 2 has a noticeably different feel to it. It features a darker, more mature, and more personal story than the familiar optimistic sci-fi epic seen in the Star Wars movies and the original KotOR.
The main drawback of KotOR 2 is definitely the fact that its development was rushed, which is obvious from some distracting bugs and environments that can feel rather empty and unfinished compared to those seen in the original game.
But at the end of the day, treating KotOR 2 as just a sequel to the first KotOR would be a mistake, as it is a very different game from a narrative standpoint and can stand quite well on its own two legs. As a matter of fact, many feel that it is actually superior to the original game in multiple ways, but that is a subjective matter.
In any case, KotOR 2 is a very memorable experience and it is another must-play game for Star Wars and RPG fans.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Developer: Raven Software
Release date: March 26, 2006
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
In contrast to the slower, more tactical combat of the KotOR games, Jedi Outcast is a fast-paced action game that can be played both from a first and a third-person perspective, featuring a variety of recognizable Star Wars weapons, Force powers, and most importantly, very fluid lightsaber combat that was quite something back in 2002 and that would influence not only future Star Wars titles but also other melee combat-focused games, too.
Now, what makes Jedi Outcast so engaging are its multiple gameplay layers. As mentioned above, it can be played either as a first-person or a third-person shooter, or it can be approached as more of a melee action game/Jedi simulator. The playstyle is up for the player to determine, but it’s necessary to utilize both ranged and melee abilities in order to master the game, especially at higher difficulty settings.
Jedi Outcast is the fourth and penultimate entry in the Jedi Knight series of games, but it is probably the best and most popular of the bunch. It was preceded by:
- Star Wars: Dark Forces (1995)
- Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (1997)
- Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith (1998)
Confusing naming scheme aside, all of the entries in the Jedi Knight series are good games in their own right, though the earlier titles from the 90s aren’t quite as polished from a technical standpoint, especially by today’s standards.
Meanwhile, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy came out a year after Jedi Outcast, featuring a customizable player character and a less linear progression system, but it plays pretty much the same as Jedi Outcast.
Ultimately, we feel that Jedi Outcast is the strongest entry in this franchise, which is why we picked it for this list. But of course, it goes without saying that you should definitely give the other games a go if you like Outcast and/or you don’t mind the apparent clunkiness that inevitably comes with most games from the 90s.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Release date: September 16, 2008
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Windows, macOS, iOS
The Force Unleashed is probably the weakest entry on this list, but even its harshest critic cannot deny that this game definitely has merits.
Unlike the Jedi Knight series or the KotOR games, TFU doesn’t offer much in terms of tactics and strategy, and it is instead more of a Jedi/Sith power fantasy. The game is played from a third-person perspective, with a lightsaber and Force powers as the player’s primary and only weapons. Overall, the game plays mostly like a typical hack ‘n’ slash action game from the late 2000s, and it executes the formula fairly well.
We did mention that TFU is likely the least remarkable game on the list, and that’s due to its lackluster story and lack of gameplay depth, something that also applies to its sequel (The Force Unleashed II) which received very mediocre reviews – not that the first game fared much better.
In any case, despite its shortcomings, we feel that The Force Unleashed is still worth playing if you’re a Star Wars fan, as the game is entirely capable of delivering just what it tries to deliver: easy to control lightsaber and Force power carnage.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Release date: October 31, 2005
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PSP, Xbox, Windows
The original Battlefront II from 2005 was probably the pinnacle of the Star Wars Battlefront franchise, as it built and improved upon the foundation set by the original 2004 release.
At its core, Battlefront II plays like your usual class-based multiplayer game, featuring a total of four factions across two time periods (the Republic and the Confederacy during the Clone Wars, plus the Rebels and the Empire during the Galactic Civil War), each faction featuring six classes along with different abilities, vehicles, and Hero units.
Perhaps the most noteworthy addition to Battlefront II were the space battles that had the players take control of faction-specific spacecraft (such as the signature X-Wing and TIE Fighters) as they engage in space dogfights while trying to damage the enemy capital ship either by bombing its weak points or by boarding it with a crew and sabotaging it from the inside.
Of course, Battlefront II also features a single-player story campaign and a Galactic Conquest mode that adds a simple turn-based strategy element to the game. However, it goes without saying that the multiplayer is where the game truly shines, and fortunately, the classic Battlefront II still has hundreds of players playing the game regularly.
Star Wars Empire at War
Developer: Petroglyph Games
Release date: February 16, 2006
Platforms: Windows, macOS
The 2000s were a very good period for real-time strategy games, and this includes Empire at War. And while it might not be among the best RTS games ever made, it is the best Star Wars RTS game – in our opinion, at least.
The game features a standard set of story campaign missions from both the Rebellion’s and the Empire’s perspective, following the events leading up to the Battle of Yavin. There is also a sandbox Galactic Conquest mode that is similar to the campaign but without any limitations imposed by the story in the campaign mode. On top of that, there is, of course, the classic skirmish mode that does away with most of the base building and management in favor of quick straightforward battles.
As you might expect, the game features both land and space battles, and both of the factions have unique units with different strengths and weaknesses e.g. the Empire focuses more on brute force while the Rebellion capitalizes more on special unit abilities and guerilla tactics.
In addition to the base game, an expansion titled Forces of Corruption was released towards the end of 2006, adding a third campaign and a new faction – the Zann Consortium, a criminal syndicate that has its own unique units and heroes and can spread corruption across enemy worlds, thus sabotaging them while making extra resources in the process. The expansion also improved the game on virtually every front, adding new units to the old factions, along with new maps, planets, and features.
All in all, Empire at War isn’t some revolutionary RTS wonder, but it is a solid game that is definitely worth playing if RTS games are among your favorite genres.
Star Wars: Republic Commando
Release date: February 28, 2005
Platforms: Xbox, Windows
Republic Commando isn’t your typical Star Wars game. It is a tactical first-person shooter that made some major changes to the existing Star Wars aesthetic and designs. It is darker and more graphic than any other Star Wars game that came before, which is what really makes it stand out at first glance.
As you might have guessed, the game takes place during the Clone Wars, following a group of elite clone commandos as they deploy to several missions over the course of the war. In addition to controlling the main character directly, the player can issue formation orders to their AI-controlled squad-mates and issue various context-sensitive orders such as directing them to plant demolition charges, hack or breach doors, assume sniping positions, and more.
At the end of the day, Republic Commando feels like a more relaxed Tom Clancy game with a sci-fi setting rather than a Star Wars game, and that’s what makes it so special. Not only does it offer engaging gameplay and diverse levels, but even the story delivery is spot-on too, as the clones have a lot for personality for a bunch of… well, clones.
Lego Star Wars
Star Wars isn’t the only IP to get a Lego franchise, as other big names such as Harry Potter, Batman, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and others have received Lego-themed reimaginings.
A total of four Star Wars Lego games were released thus far:
|Lego Star Wars: The Video Game||March 29, 2005||Traveller’s Tales||PlayStation 2|
|Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy||September 11, 2006||Traveller’s Tales||PlayStation 2|
|Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars||March 22, 2011||Traveller’s Tales||PlayStation 3|
|Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens||June 28, 2016||TT Fusion||PlayStation 3|
If you’ve played any of the Lego games, you’ll know pretty much what you can expect from Lego Star Wars – a less serious, humoristic take on the franchise, with gameplay that boils down to platforming, solving puzzles, and a simple but very addictive combat system.
Ultimately, Lego Star Wars is a lighthearted and fun game for gamers of all ages, though it is the first two games that were met with the best critical reception, and you can get them both as part of the Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Release date: November 15, 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
And for the final entry on the list, we have what is probably one of the biggest surprises of 2019 – a good game published by EA? Yes, we’re talking about Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order, an excellent action-adventure game whose story takes place in between Star Wars Episodes III and IV.
Fallen Order relies on a very effective gameplay formula that incorporates various elements from Batman: Arkham and Dark Souls games, along with a general Metroidvania-like approach to character progression and map exploration. All of this comes together to form a very effective gameplay formula that is bound to keep the player engaged over the course of the game’s campaign.
Fallen Order is easily one of the best Star Wars games released in a long time, especially with recent disappointments such as the EA Battlefront reboot, so it definitely deserves a spot on this list.
And those would be our picks for the best Star Wars games of all time! This list will probably be updated in the future as new games come out, assuming that Fallen Order wasn’t a one-time wonder and EA doesn’t suck the life out of the franchise completely.
As always, if you feel that we’ve missed anything important or that there are other games that deserve a mention, let us know in the comments and we’ll see about expanding or correcting the article in the future!