It’s early December and if you venture through the video game aisles at Target or Walmart, there’s one game you just can’t escape: Battlefront II (2017). The remake of the iconic, Star Wars: Battlefront II (from 2005) is currently suffering from a string of bad press revolving around loot boxes, impossibly high in-game prices for characters, and a botched case of public relations. When Battlefront II was initially announced, EA promised that this would be the game to set things right and improve upon the issues of its predecessor, which did not contain a campaign mode and charged an additional $50 on top of the initial price to access the bulk of game modes and maps. However, as of the release date, it appears that Battlefront II is right on track to be just as disappointing and controversial.
But rather than beat the game while it’s down, we should celebrate the dozens of Star Wars games that have come before it. While not all of them are hits, there are quite a few that are worthy of play. More than that, Star Wars games aren’t just confined to first person shooters or Jedi training sessions. They vary in genre and style, and though they may not have the best graphics and effects, these games can still satisfy that Star Wars itch. So without further ado, here are the top 5 Star Wars games you should play or revisit if you’re not thrilled with the new Battlefront II.
1.Galactic Battlegrounds (2001)
Galactic Battlegrounds may be one of the more unfamiliar games on the list, but it is a diamond in the rough. Utilizing the same in-game engine as Age of Empires, Galactic Battlegrounds is a real-time strategy game that allows you to control one of several factions: Empire, Rebels, CIS, Republic, Wookies, or Gungans. It encourages you to farm resources which you can use to buy more troops or different buildings for your base, and, when you’ve amassed a large enough army, you can go ahead and raid the opposing factions. Though it’s not one of the most complex games out there and contains virtually no story, the individual matches are short, to the point, and incredibly addicting. Similarly, the ability to include heroes from the Expanded Universe gives the game some street cred. It’s clear that the developers did their homework and the results show spectacularly.
2. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (2007)
Here’s the one we all probably played in our childhoods. Lego Star Wars was revolutionary for its time, not just because it was the first of a long line of Lego games, but also because it was one of the first games that allowed you to play through the Star Wars films as dozens of characters from any Star Wars era. Chances are, if you saw a character in the movies, that character was in the game. Whether you wanted to play as Jango Fett infiltrating the Death Star or utilize Jar Jar Binks to take out Jabba’s sail barge, Lego provided you with the freedom to do it. Yes, in retrospect, the games are not even close to as challenging as you remember, but they more than make up for it with their aura of fun. Everything from the non-verbal cutscenes to the wacky ways that characters blast apart into bricks make this game well worth a revisit (preferably with your best buddy playing beside you).
3. Battlefront II (2005)
Yes, we couldn’t resist but to be fair, there is a lot about the original Battlefronts I and II that make them so darn replayable, even over a decade later. On its surface, Battlefront is just a fps with a Star Wars skin, but in practice, it is so much more than that. Players can pilot starfighters, tear through opposing ranks with heroes and villains, and interact in a campaign mode that actually examines material that illustrates some moral complexity within the universe. Some of the levels in the campaign, such as the infamous Order 66 in the jedi temple scenario feature some truly astounding gameplay as you square off and exterminate the last of the jedi, all the while feeling the terror of going up against these meta-human beings and the remorse of killing those who you once fought beside. Aside from the campaign, you can also play with a buddy and conquer the galaxy together through the Galactic Conquest mode, or you can just square off in everyone’s favorite Heroes vs. Villains showdown. It’s no wonder that this was the series EA decided to reboot, and now, if you’re playing on Steam, the servers for this original game are back up and live for some multiplayer rounds!
4. The Old Republic (2011)
The only MMO on this list and perhaps the most recent game, The Old Republic is actually an astonishing feat. Many Star Wars fans see the Old Republic era as hallowed ground. Between decades of comics and novels, the Old Republic contains some of the greatest stories in all of the Star Wars expanded universe, so the idea that a MMO could ever improve on this existing canon initially seemed ludicrous. However, along came the Old Republic and history was made. The wonderful thing about this game is the character creation. You can choose from a large selection of classes, races, and specializations, making it possible for players to fully insert themselves into the Star Wars universe in a way that had never before been possible. If you wanted to be a Sith sorcerer, you could be it and train in the tombs of the Sith homeworld. If you wanted to be a smuggler you could shape your own destiny with unique quests on the casino world of Nar Shaddaa. Essentially, you could be any sort of character you wanted in the Star Wars universe and your initial choice would plunge you into an entirely different gaming experience with different backgrounds and quests, lending the game massive replayability to experience all the worlds and quests of the universe. But beyond the replayability the quests themselves are engaging and force you to make moral, character-altering decisions, the worlds themselves are expansive and beautiful, and the representation of the force is possibly at its all time peak for a video game. Perhaps the only fault of the game is the fact that lower-level players literally miss all attacks on higher-level players, meaning that you can’t jump between worlds as often as you might want. But with so many interesting quests to experience, the time spent grinding out level-ups isn’t a huge burden.
5. Knights of the Old Republic (2003)
This was not the first Star Wars game with a completely original story (see Shadows of the Empire for that), but the impact of Knights of the Old Republic is undeniable. This game essentially started from nothing and wove a story about previously unheard-of characters in such a fashion that names like Darth Revan are widely-recognized even outside the Star Wars fan community. The tale of KotOR is long, complex, and filled with the moral ambiguity that Star Wars so loves to capitalize on. Its gameplay is innovative, the characters are iconic, and the plot influences the tone and angle of the current Star Wars movies and TV shows more than the prequels ever did; in fact, a Star Wars series and trilogy has been greenlit that are rumored to adapt KotOR to the screen because that’s how much this game means to the Star Wars community. Simply put, KotOR isn’t just one of the greatest Star Wars games there is; it transcends this list and can simply be considered as one of the greatest games of all time.
***So no matter what style of game you prefer, there is a great Star Wars game for you. Though these may not have the graphics of Battlefront II, their replayability and sheer potential for fun make these excellent candidates if you have an itch to play some Star Wars games this holiday season. What Star Wars games do you think deserve a replay? Sound off in the comments below!***