Along with providing the world of cinema with several notable classics, the Star Wars franchise has contributed many exciting products to the world of gaming. Starting with Atari’s 1982 adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars games have grown and prospered over the decades, eventually leading to several gaming classics.
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While plenty of these games have gone about transporting the film’s stories to the gaming medium, others have greatly expanded the series’ universe and lore. Focusing on tales from before, during, and after the films’ events, these games have led to franchises of their own in some instances, including books and comic books expanding upon the characters, tales, and uses of The Force on offer. Although deciding on the greatest of all time in anything is a tall order, there are several traits worth considering: gameplay quality, cultural and gaming impact, success, and influence in the years since. With this in mind, here are Star Wars games that managed to give fans something special.
Updated on February 7, 2024, by John Cunningham: This list has been updated to include more thrilling entries from the expansive world of Star Wars gaming, as well as subheadings providing additional info on what makes each of these games so great. The legendary franchise changed the face of blockbuster cinema forever with the release of the 1977 original. In the many years since it has also provided the gaming medium with plenty of classics that chart a wide range of genres and styles across multiple generations of consoles.
12 Star Wars: Bounty Hunter Is A Gritty, All-Action Film Tie-In
November 19, 2002
Playstation 2, GameCube
Set 10 years before the events of Attack of the Clones, Bounty Hunter follows former Mandalorian Jango Fett as he locks horns with a variety of Force-related threats. Getting tangled up in the web of the villainous Count Dooku, Fett is set on an inevitable collision course with the deadly Dark Jedi Komari Vosa.
What makes Bounty Hunter so intriguing is its impressive lore-building for the film it ties into. Not only do players learn a great deal more about both bounty hunting and organized crime in the Star Wars universe, but they also get to discover how Jango Fett acquired his famed ship and why he became the basis of the Clone Army. With a variety of weapons on hand and plenty of all-action missions to blast through, Bounty Hunter is a fine example of world-building that developed its popular character far beyond what was possible in his relatively brief appearance in the prequel trilogy.
11 Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire Builds A New Story Out Of The Classic Films
December 2, 1996
Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 64
This thrilling third-person shooter expands the already rich Star Wars universe and lore with a new cast of colorful characters as well as more epic battles. Players take the role of gutsy smuggler Dash Rendar during the time period of the beloved original trilogy, meeting some of the classic characters along the way.
Across four chapters, Rendar gives players a look into additional, world-building events that went on off-screen during the original films. The compelling narrative neatly blends in with familiar events from the films whilst also providing its own distinct adventures. The gameplay is impressively varied and fast-paced, ranging from thrilling aerial warfare to ground-based shootouts, ensuring players remain engaged across a variety of dangerous action setpieces. An underrated gem from the Nintendo 64’s reign over the gaming world, Shadows of the Empire is a thrillingly rewarding entry in the Star Wars gaming catalog.
10 Star Wars Episode 1: Racer
Star Wars Episode 1: Racer
- April 30, 1999
- Aspyr , Lucasfilm Games
Of the games released in tandem with 1999’s The Phantom Menace, it’s safe to say Racer proved more seminal than the direct film adaptation. Inspired by the popular Tatooine podracing scene from the film, the game provides players with a thrilling, fast-paced experience.
Along with the Tatooine racetrack from the film, Racer comes with a diverse array of other planetary settings for players to enjoy speeding through. Its large range of customizable features, attention to detail, and references to the source material all add to what made this a near-flawless game racing experience at the time.
In a nice touch that ensured a certain level of suspense for players, the trusty booster features can ultimately destroy the player’s pod if used for too long, making it a double-edged sword for those desperate to get in first when lagging behind. A monster seller at the time, Racer ensured interest in Star Wars gaming remained high as the 21st century rolled in.
9 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Star Wars Force Unleashed
- September 16, 2008
The absurdly overpowered Starkiller makes for one of Star Wars gaming’s most exciting action heroes. Introduced as the secret apprentice of Darth Vader in the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Garen Malek can bring down starships with the Force and crush Rancors with Force lightning.
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The storyline follows his gradual path away from the Galactic Empire, as he finds a new purpose in helping form the early days of the Rebel Alliance. With colorful characters, memorable takes on both Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, and two completely different endings to choose from, The Force Unleashed is a fun, often thrilling gaming experience for Star Wars fans. While the disappointing sequel ultimately led to the derailment of a planned trilogy, the original remains one of the finest lightsaber-wielding games of the seventh generation of consoles.
8 Star Wars: Empire At War Takes Players Into The Heat Of The Empire’s Battles With The Rebellion
Star Wars: Empire at War
- February 16, 2006
- Petroglyph Games
- Real-Time Strategy
This rewarding epic blends real-time strategy thrills and spills with classic Star Wars action and storytelling. Players are thrust into the high-stakes war between the Rebellion and the Empire, with the game taking place in the stretch of time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
Empire at War allows players to take control of armies on both sides of the conflict in grand-scale, epic conflicts throughout the galaxy. The explosive tactical actioner succeeds admirably in capturing the epic, fantastical atmosphere of the films, allowing a more interactive thrill ride for fans looking to immerse themselves further in the wonders of the Star Wars universe. The gameplay gets the job done when it comes to the classic tropes of the real-time strategy genre. There’s also considerable replay value thanks to three different game modes to discover: Skirmish, Campaign, and Galactic Conquest. With its epic battles and commitment to the spirit of the source material, Empire at War was a hit with fans and critics alike at the time of its release.
7 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Set A New Standard For Lightsaber Combat
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- November 15, 2019
This much-loved 2019 game delivered the high-level lightsaber action fans had been hoping for decades. Respawn Entertainment’s entry into a time long ago, in a galaxy far, far away has won them much acclaim and introduced Star Wars fans to a new fan-favorite protagonist.
Fallen Order focuses on the aftermath of the infamous Order 66 from Revenge of the Sith. The player takes control of Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan on the run from the Galactic Empire. Unsurprisingly, being a fugitive makes completing his Jedi training even more difficult than usual. Chased by Imperial Inquisitors, Cal’s adventure is a gripping, immersive affair that lifted the lid on the potential of Jedi combat in modern gaming.
6 Star Wars: Battlefront
Star Wars Battlefront
- September 24, 2004
- Pandemic Studios , Beenox
- Third-Person Shooter , FPS
The original entry in the Battlefront series opened the door to a whole new world of Star Wars gaming. Throwing players right into the thick of a variety of conflicts from both the original and prequel trilogies, the game zeroes in on the soldiers on the ground.
The result is a blend between the fantastical thrills of Star Wars and the tactical intensity of more conventional shooter games. With four major armies to serve in and an addictive multiplayer mode, Battlefront quickly proved to be a hit with players, spawning a sequel and a reboot series in the years after its release. While some might be disappointed that the likes of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker are not playable characters, the game’s emphasis on infantry and more human combat sets it apart as the rare occasion in which Star Wars fans get to appreciate the true stress of having to serve as a stormtrooper.
5 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Not only is The Skywalker Saga an excellent piece of Star Wars gaming, but it’s also arguably the pinnacle of LEGO games. The game lives up to its title, charting the events from The Phantom Menace all the way to The Rise of Skywalker.
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Featuring 45 levels across all three film trilogies, the game boasts plenty of the light-hearted, trademark humor the LEGO games have become renowned for. Better still, the game showcases greatly enhanced combat systems and mobility mechanics to enjoy compared to prior releases. Essentially wrapping up everything great about both LEGO and Star Wars in one neat, good-natured, family-friendly bow, this was one adaptation that managed to exceed any and all expectations.
4 Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
- April 28, 2023
- Action-Adventure , Soulslike
The adventures of Cal Kestis have kicked up a notch this year with the release of the highly-anticipated Survivor. The story picks up five years on from Fallen Order, and sees Kestis still on the run, now as a seasoned Jedi Knight.
Survivor retains much of the gameplay and action that made Fallen Order such a treat and turns them up to 11, offering an immersive thrill ride for players. While some have dismissed the game’s core plot as being uninspired, Survivor has plenty to offer Star Wars fans, including new Jedi lore, an intense look at the threat posed by Darth Vader, and the continuing growth and development of Cal as a Jedi. At a visual level, Survivor may just be the greatest, most well-textured Star Wars game ever released.
3 Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 2
December 6, 2004
Xbox, Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch
With a tough act to follow, Knights of the Old Republic 2 first hit the stands in 2004. Sporting a noticeably darker narrative that emphasizes Sith dominance, the game quickly garnered attention for unveiling one of the franchise’s scariest and most powerful rogues: Darth Nihilus.
Between his iconic mask and world-consuming power, the brutal Sith Lord quickly made a major impression on Star Wars fans, adding greatly to the captivatingly intense main narrative on offer. On top of the devastating lead antagonist, KOTR 2 provides players with a litany of morally ambiguous choices to make as they take control of an exiled Jedi Knight that can majorly impact the game’s overall outcome. With dramatic themes of redemption and both the internal and external struggles between light and dark, this worthy sequel continued to build the impressive world of The Old Republic with gusto.
2 Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader
Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader
- Nintendo GameCube , Wii
- November 9, 2001
Not only is Rogue Leader a Star Wars gaming masterpiece, but it’s also one of the greatest releases ever seen on the Nintendo GameCube. Its gameplay was so top-notch at the time that it was even used for the console’s showcase.
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Above all else, Rogue Leader‘s biggest contribution to the Star Wars gaming world was arguably its rendition of the much-loved Trench Run feature, which went hand-in-hand with the game’s straightforward, all-action style.
A noticeable change from the original Rogue Squadron can be found in this game’s lighter approach to combat systems, providing fans with a faster-paced, less complicated experience. Coupled with elite-level graphics for the time and a fun narrative spanning the original three films, Rogue Leader marked a new peak for spacecraft-focused Star Wars games.
1 Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
The Old Republic gives George Lucas’ prequels a run for their money on the complicated lore front, introducing players to a very different time in the galaxy’s history. Set four millennia before A New Hope, Knights of the Old Republic gives fans a space western-infused look at the war between the Jedi and the Sith.
The main narrative revolves around Darth Malak’s declaration of war on The Galactic Republic, leading to war-torn chaos throughout the galaxy. Players slot in as a noble Jedi tasked with chasing and ultimately defeating Malak across a variety of planets.
Released in 2003, Knights of the Old Republic remains the narrative pinnacle of Star Wars games, featuring a very different tale and experience to the times and battles depicted in the films, all while remaining true to the series’ overall themes and style. A seminal modern gaming classic, BioWare’s role-playing take on Star Wars remains one of the most important and influential games of its time.
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