May The 4 Best Star Wars Games Be With You!

The 4th of May is upon us, and as always, everyone in the gaming sphere can’t help but reminisce about how good Star Wars fans had it in comparison to most other franchises. Back when the main series was merely a few movies long, hundreds of creatives were given the green light to create or recreate stories inside our favorite universe, many of which ended up as absolute classics.

Now, I may not have had the pleasure of experiencing all of them, but as a licensed game enthusiast, I certainly played my fair share. Here are four of my favorites to celebrate Star Wars day, May the 4th. Be sure to let us know below which ones you would immortalize on a Mount Rushmore of Star Wars video games!

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Complete Saga screenshot of Leia and Darth Maul

One thing you will quickly learn about my taste in licensed games while looking at this list is that I love when creators cram as much of their IP’s world into as tight of a product as possible. No other game on this list has LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga by Traveller’s Tales beat in that department. 128 obtainable characters, 36 story missions based on the first six movies, plenty of bonus stages and memorable collectibles to be uncovered—it is still the definitive LEGO video game experience. 

Later LEGO Star Wars games may offer more freedom in exploration and even combat, but they lack the quality that made this title so memorable: replayability. Its tight level structure coupled with short, but sweet voiceless cutscenes and ever-present humor makes the completion process feel like a breeze, and an absolute joy to revisit. It is as timeless and as iconic as they come. The Lego Star Wars games are also, to this day, one of the only few ways of experiencing the universe through a co-op campaign, which is pretty ridiculous if you think about it.

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

Jedi Knight Jedi Academy screenshot

The Jedi Knight series by Raven Software is undoubtedly the blueprint for all future Star Wars games. Starting as a first-person shooter in Dark Forces, it would later primarily adapt the third-person view as the protagonist finds out that the Force is strong with him and starts jumping around and swinging a lightsaber. However, the games did not forget their roots, allowing the player to play in either perspective when switching over to one of the many blasters. This unique blend of adventure gameplay is what Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy—the last game in the series—does best.

Mixing tight corridors and open stages makes switching between the two styles engaging, and though everyone will likely want to Jedi it up as their own created character Jaden, the game finds ways to utilize the many different tools it puts in front of the player. Different missions require creative solutions: snipers, explosives, Force powers, platforming, etc. The game covers a surprisingly wide range of scenarios a Jedi may face in the universe, from sandworms to Rancors to lightsaber duels aplenty!

Replayability is another huge plus, with both sides of the Force influencing not just the story outcomes, but also the gameplay, providing different Force powers and allowing for new ways to approach combat. This is best seen during multiplayer, and many people to this day swear that it is there where you can experience the best lightsaber combat in video game history. It is hard to deny that there is something magical, to the id Tech 3 engine’s floaty movement and physics that makes the whole experience feel out of this world.

Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005)

Star Wars Battlefront 2 2005

I certainly could see DICE’s 2017 title in this spot as well, even though it took a while to get there, but it is once again the variety of Pandemic Studio’s original release that sticks with me to this day. This massive shooter felt momentous, with a single-player campaign that took its players through an alternative universe scenario. Clones-turned-stormtroopers conquer the majority of the iconic planets, while the rest can be found in its multiplayer mode.

The unforgettable Galactic Conquest mode lets the player direct either side of the two major conflicts: Droids vs Clones and Empire vs Rebels. Each of the four factions has unique units, but share roles such as engineer or sniper among others. The hero units, unique to each map, become available if the player performs well enough, and nothing feels better than jumping in as Grievous or Yoda to slice up dozens of units after taking over a few points, though ironically I always found myself doing better with the likes of Han Solo. The Battlefront formula is simply perfect, and incredibly satisfying even today.

As I mentioned, this version of the game feels the most varied. I will never forget the space battles, which allowed players to walk down to the hangar and choose between the available ships, control individual turrets protecting the ship’s vital components, or even take raiding parties onto the opposing capital ships and blow it up in its entirety on foot from the inside! And though the on-ground and space combat made up the crux of the gameplay, the multiplayer hid many fun, gimmick match types, such as Hero Assault, where an entire match is played with only hero units, or Hunt, where unique alien races such as Wampas, Geonosians or Jawas become playable. It always felt like a complete Star Wars experience, and no Star Wars experience is complete without goofiness such as this.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

KOTOR Taris screenshot

Truly, any of the Old Republic games fit on a list like this. Obsidian Entertainment’s unique sequel has not just the coolest writing out of any Star Wars media, but is also up there among the greatest stories in video games. The MMO miraculously manages to keep a lot of what made the originals great, with dark and light side dialogue choices and storylines for each of its classes and companions that would fit right into any other Bethesda game.

It is the original that ultimately takes this spot. Knights of the Old Republic tells the story of the universe’s ancient times but contains all the lovable characteristics of Star Wars while adding so much brand-new flair. Its locations are rich and layered, exploring different societies and cultures of each planet in a lovely, unmistakable early 2000s PC RPG aesthetic. I often revisit it just to take in some of its locations. The ambiance of each screen and the strong color palettes are exactly what I miss about old Star Wars. Too many locations in the new stuff simply look dull by comparison.

Bioware was absolutely in their bag when creating the companions for the game, with the fan favorite HK-47 assassin droid, the awkward, yet lovable Bastila, the self-described “crazy old man” Jolee Bindo, or one of the first queer Star Wars characters Juhani. KOTOR rode a fine line of a tragicomedy ideal for a franchise which can go from the main character’s hand being cut off at the end of one movie, only to make a giant slug alien the main antagonist at the beginning of the next. It has everything that made me fall in love with Star Wars, from the cool evil guy in a mask to a funny alien race that speaks in gurgles. It somehow managed to completely restart this universe in a way that many remakes nowadays could certainly learn a lot from. In fact, I think every game can learn something from KOTOR—it just is that damn good.

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