PC Gaming Week: The greatest Star Wars games of all time

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Introduction




Star Wars changed the face of the sci-fi film genre forever by busting out Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader onto an unsuspecting public way back in 1977. Gamers have had more than their fair share of Star Wars titles to get stuck into over the years — from Rebel Assault to Knights of the Old Republic.

Whether it's flying through space blasting Star Destroyers, locking lightsabers with Sith lords or interacting with online players in vast virtual worlds, there's probably been a Star Wars game on the PC for you.

Star Wars: X-Wing




  • Developer: LucasArts
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 1993
  • Genre: Space simulator
  • Platform(s): MS-DOS, Macintosh, Windows 9x

The X-Wing game takes us all the way back to the DOS days. With that in mind, having a fast-paced space blaster was a pretty exciting thing, even more so that it was based on our favourite old star fighter. It even shipped on floppy disk.

X-Wing required you to complete several tours of duty fighting in the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Not only were you controlling your own fighter but there were computer controlled wingmen who could help you out too. The graphics look incredibly dated now, but seemed top-notch at the time, and thanks to appropriately scored music and voiceovers from Star Wars actors, gamers had the best possible experience of flying an X-Wing fighter back in the early nineties.

Star Wars: TIE Fighter




  • Developer: Totally Games
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 1994
  • Genre: Space simulator
  • Platform(s): MS-DOS, Macintosh, Windows 9x

As a sequel to the X-Wing game, TIE fighter allowed gamers to switch sides and blow some rebel scum out of the sky – or rather, out of the vacuum of space. There's not much to say here – while there was a plot to the game that drove the missions, being a simulator game meant there was little character development. However, there were plenty of chances to get to play with iconic spaceships from the movies.

Dark Forces 1 and 2




  • Developer: LucasArts
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 1995
  • Genre: First and third-person shooter
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows (Part 1 and 2). Part 1 only: MS-DOS, Macintosh, PlayStation, PlayStation Network
  • Graphics Engine: Jedi (Part 1), Sith (Part 2)

Dark Forces was the first FPS game set in the Star Wars universe. The first instalment could be described as a generic FPS with a Star Wars skin. However, it begins with a very Star Wars-esque story featuring a protagonist, Kyle Katarn, who is on a quest to avenge his parent's deaths. Moving into the second episode, Kyle began to learn the way of the force which gave gamers their first chance to engage in light sabre combat! The games were well received and the storyline paved the way for future Star Wars FPS titles.

Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast




  • Developer: Raven Software, Vicarious Visions
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 2002
  • Genre: First and third-person shooter
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Mac, GameCube, Xbox
  • Graphics Engine: Quake III: Team Arena

The Dark Forces series was rebranded as the Jedi Knight series. This sequel to the first Jedi Knight picks up Kyle Katarn's life from where we left him in Dark Forces 2. Kyle is working as a mercenary, having rejected his force abilities, but is dragged back into the Jedi world when a former student of Luke Skywalker's, Desann, starts making trouble. JK2 was a leap ahead of previous Star Wars FPS games as it advanced the light sabre and force ability combat, but more importantly had a strong multiplayer component.

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy




  • Developer: Raven Software, Vicarious Visions
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 2003
  • Genre: First and third-person shooter
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Mac, Amiga OS 4
  • Graphics Engine: Quake III: Team Arena

This was the last of the Jedi Knight series, and it saw the character of Kyle Katarn taking a back seat to make way for fresh young Jedi trainees. In terms of its fundamental gameplay Jedi Academy didn't add anything new. However, it was a great refinement of the already impressive combat system developed in JK2. Jedi Academy was also praised for making good use of the Quake III engine.

Knights of the Old Republic




  • Developer: BioWare
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 2003
  • Genre: RPG
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows

Knights of the Old Republic was the first role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe. It first came out on the Xbox but was released on the PC later the same year. While looking more like a third-person perspective shooter, the game actually borrowed heavily from dice-based tabletop role-playing games. KotOR is set four thousand years before events in the movies and therefore the developers had something of a free rein with the storyline. Despite very corny dialogue between action sequences the game received critical acclaim and was so popular it is still available now on mobile devices like Android and iOS.

Star Wars: Battlefront




  • Developer: Pandemic Studios
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 2004
  • Genre: First and third-person shooter
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Mac
  • Graphics Engine: Zero

Star Wars: Battlefront brought Battlefield-style conquest-based combat to the Star Wars franchise. This game allowed you to take part in all of the major conflicts in the Star Wars universe, both from the prequel era and the original trilogy Galactic Civil War.

Confusingly, as you progress through the game you change sides. Initially you are controlling droids from the Trade Federation, then you are fighting those droids as a clone trooper, and so on. All that aside, the Battlefront series was an ideal game for Star Wars fans who were also into the Battlefield franchise.

Star Wars: The Old Republic




  • Developer: BioWare
  • Publisher: LucasArts, Electronic Arts
  • Year of release: 2011
  • Genre: MMORPG
  • Platform(s): Microsoft Windows
  • Graphics Engine: HeroEngine

Star Wars: The Old Republic is the current MMORPG incarnation of Star Wars. Star Wars Galaxies was shut down shortly before this game went online. The Old Republic is set a while after the events of Knights of the Old Republic, and players can join either the Sith Empire or the Galactic Republic.

The game provides a quest-driven storyline for each player, including a limited form of crafting as with other MMORPGs. However, The Old Republic has copped some criticism for lacking the same open-ended gameplay style that was familiar to players of Star Wars Galaxies. For example, rather than having an open-ended arcade-style space flight model, The Old Republic only allows for starship-based quests were the player cannot deviate from a predefined flight path.

Star Wars: Rebel Assault




  • Developer: LucasArts
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Year of release: 1993
  • Genre: Rail Shooter
  • Platform(s): MS-DOS, Sega CD, Mac, 3DO

While Star Wars: Rebel Assault was critizised for having little flexibility in its gameplay, the 1993 title was one of the most innovative of its time. By using pre-rendered graphics, the on-rails shooter gave gamers visuals that were far beyond anything their computer could ever render in real-time. It was also one of the first game to splice in clips from the movies to add to the immersion. Oh: and it was hard.










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