The best Star Wars games on PC
When considering the best Star Wars games for this list, it’s clear that the saga has had its ups and downs on PC. During the ’90s and early ’00s, LucasArts had a lot of hits, particularly with games that were targeted at using a mouse and keyboard or a joystick—these were the days when Star Wars games would launch just on PC, instead of every single console, too. And honestly, based on recent experience, it was a better time for fans of games based on Lucas’s iconic films. It’s hard to envision EA making a new X-Wing with just PC players in mind, for example. Then again, Jedi Fallen Order is perhaps the most promising Star Wars game in years, as a singleplayer-only Jedi action game.
While a previous version of this list was in a numbered order, here we’ve revised that so we can fit in more of our favourites. Among this bunch you’ll find brilliant dogfighting games, first-person shooters, Jedi duelling and even an RTS. If you’re looking for some not-so-good Lucasarts tie-ins, which are still loveable in their own right, check out our list of the worst Star Wars games.
This light tactical FPS is one of the most enjoyable games to come out of the Clone Wars/Revenge of the Sith era, which is mostly remembered for disposable PS2 nonsense like Racer Revenge and Bounty Hunter. While Republic Commando looks a bit rough these days, it’s refreshing to see that era of Star Wars executed with the right adult (but not too serious) tone. If the prequels were more like this, you might even have enjoyed them.
After an extremely effective opening sequence where you watch the creation of your clone captain in first person, you’re put in control of a squad of clone specialists. You can order them around with simple presses of the F button, prodding them towards highlighted parts of the environment to blow things up, converge on a single enemy, or take control of an area. With decent dialogue and voice acting, too, it’s still easy to recommend now.
The neatest touch, which I’ve heard everyone bring up when discussing this game, is the comical windscreen wipe effect on your helmet that kicks in whenever its gets dirty or damaged.
Empire At War
It wasn’t the most radical, in-depth or interesting RTS around back in 2006, but it’s nonetheless as close as an official Star Wars game has got to capturing the magic of the saga’s space and ground battles (better than Force Commander did, anyway). Petroglyph’s Empire At War even has multiplayer again these days, after the developer switched it back on in September.
If one sci-fi multimedia series isn’t enough for you, check out Andy’s recent feature where he pitted the ships of Star Wars against those of Star Trek in a brilliantly detailed mod, then try it out yourself.
When Rogue Squadron landed on GOG, I played through over half of it in one night. It’s still a brilliant shooter, featuring every Rebel spaceship with their own differences in sound design and feel (except the poor old B-Wing).
In the late ’90s I was obsessed with Star Wars games—I think I still have a PC Gamer demo disc containing only Star Wars game demos that I played again and again for about two years—and Rogue Squadron is weirdly one of those titles considered an N64 game before a PC game, even though it came to PC first in North America. I only ever played it on PC, and for someone watching the Star Wars Special Edition VHSs every day in 1999, Rogue Squadron blew me away. That’s partly because of the level of fan service employed in setting some levels in familiar locations (or some you heard in passing, like Kessel) or having the Millennium Falcon turn up halfway through a mission, but also because it’s so simple an arcade shooter that it’s aged pretty well.
Rogue Squadron, I suspect, was created to emulate Nintendo’s brilliant Star Fox 64, with planets represented as little hubs and most completable in the space of about ten minutes. It’s a really easy game to get to grips with in terms of the way each Rebel craft moves, and it was nice counter-programming to the X-Wing series if you weren’t always in the mood for a sim experience. The only thing that drove me insane about Rogue Squadron is that its two best levels—and surely a reason to buy the game for most people—were the Death Star trench run and the Battle of Hoth, both of which were hidden bonuses that had to be arduously unlocked by collecting gold medals. They should’ve been the first missions in the game!
Though Rogue Squadron didn’t have the Battle of Endor (which is okay because X-Wing Alliance did that brilliantly and makes more sense in a sim style), this was a very complete-feeling game for players who particularly love the space and ground battles of Star Wars. It’s got some fun Expanded Universe bits, the Millennium Falcon as an unlockable and even patched in the Naboo Starfighter from Episode I, back when The Phantom Menace was more promising-cool-thing than pop culture atrocity.
I regret that that LucasArts didn’t bring its sequel, the stunning GameCube shooter Rogue Leader, to PC (is it too late for this to happen? Capcom is porting its console back catalogue to PC—no reason LucasArts shouldn’t do it), and it’s sad that Factor 5 is no longer around to create more games in the series. It seems like a waste to let the series die when it’s such a good representation of a major part of Star Wars.
Also recommended—but not good enough to be on this list because there are no X-Wings in it—is the similarly angled Battle For Naboo, which for my money would’ve been a way better addition to GOG than the weaker Star Wars Starfighter. That was the third best Prequel Trilogy game after Racer and Republic Commando. Hopefully it happens someday. Rogue Squadron fans would lap it up, I’m sure, but for now this remains the best you can get on PC.