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The complete history of Star Wars on PC

Star Wars: Republic Commando

RELEASED 2005 | DEVELOPER LucasArts

Star Wars Republic Commando 2005

A rare example of a Clone Wars tie-in game that isn’t crap, Republic Commando offered a take on the period that was a little darker and a little more human thanks to the role played by your squadmates. It’s like a more inventive Call of Duty: a similar sense of military bravado, tempered by your squad’s status as expendable clones bred for a war they don’t have any control over.

Star Wars: Battlefront II

RELEASED 2005 | DEVELOPER Pandemic Studios

Star Wars Battlefront II 2005

An expansion on the original’s strengths with a single standout new feature: space combat between fleets of fighters with seamless transitions from cockpit to combat in the hallways of capital ships. It’s also possible to unlock and play as ‘hero’ characters such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader for a limited time during each match, adding an interesting degree of asymmetry to competitive play. Otherwise, Battlefront II’s improvements build upon the foundation laid by the previous game: the AI is better and the freeform ‘Galactic Conquest’ campaign mode has been revamped with a greater range of strategic options. Battlefront II picked up a dedicated modding and mapping scene on PC, where players would create new multiplayer arenas to simulate various famous battles from the expanded universe. To date, Battlefront II remains Star Wars’ definitive combat sandbox.

Lego Star Wars: The Video Game

RELEASED 2005 | DEVELOPER Traveller's Tales

LEGO Star Wars The Video Game 2005

The first of the Lego platformers, a series that would become a genre unto itself: a template that could be applied to almost any suitably beloved childhood movie or book series. At the time, it was a surprise hit: a silly, charming and unpretentious take on a series that was becoming a little self-serious, with a vast number of characters to collect and a generous selection of new levels. Similarly, it marked a highpoint in Star Wars games for children.

Star Wars Galaxies: Episode III Rage of the Wookies

RELEASED 2005 | DEVELOPER Sony Online Entertainment

Star Wars Galaxies Rage of the Wookiees 2005

A World of Warcraft-style expansion that both ignored SWG’s roots as a player-driven persistent world and introduced a sickly quantity of movie tie-in gunk that the game was previously free of. Collect Anakin Skywalker’s starfighter! Win medals! The beginning of the end for Galaxies.

Star Wars Galaxies: Trials of Obi-Wan

RELEASED 2005 | DEVELOPER Sony Online Entertainment

Star Wars Galaxies Trials of Obi-Wan 2005

In which Sir Alec Guinness’s glowing ghost sends you to Mustafar just in time for the DVD release of Revenge of the Sith. Also, HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic shows up in order to remind you that better Star Wars RPGs exist—indeed, Star Wars Galaxies used to be one of them. Standout dumb ideas include the ‘lavasaber’.

Star Wars: KOTOR II - The Sith Lords

RELEASED 2005 | DEVELOPER Obsidian Entertainment

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II The Sith Lords 2005

Rather unfinished on release (but subsequently patched up by the community), Knights of the Old Republic II is a fascinating, unorthodox take on Star Wars by Obsidian. Where the original reconstructs Star Wars, this deconstructs it: challenging the Light Side-Dark Side division and with it the core tenets of the Jedi-Sith conflict. In particular, the exiled Jedi Master Kreia offers a perspective on Star Wars—penned by veteran RPG scribe Chris Avellone—that functionally rips apart Lucas’s simplistic fiction. The ability to act as a mentor to your Force-sensitive companions and explore a nuanced, morally grey interpretation of the universe is the main draw here, as its interaction with its predecessor’s narrative is cursory at best. A rare example of Star Wars fiction that is smarter than it is dramatic.

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

RELEASED 2006 | DEVELOPER Traveller's Tales

LEGO Star Wars II The Original Trilogy 2006

More charming simply for being based on better films, Lego Star Wars II is otherwise a very similar game to its predecessor. In that it’s for kids, mostly, but remains enjoyable today for the chunky clattery way that stormtroopers fall apart when you bash them. Brick Vader is adorable too, but not to be confused with ‘Brick Vader’ from the excellent Snatch Wars YouTube parody.

Star Wars: Empire at War

RELEASED 2006 | DEVELOPER Petroglyph Games

Star Wars Empire At War 2006

If Galactic Battlegrounds represents the legacy of Age of Empires, then this represents its great ’90s RTS rival—Command & Conquer. Empire At War’s developer, Petroglyph, was formed out of Westwood veterans and would here produce a deep and beautifully-rendered take on Star Wars strategy. Rather than focusing on resource harvesting, Empire at War took the more setting-appropriate step of basing unit construction on the amount of galactic territory controlled by the player. Battles could take place both planetside and in orbit, with each campaign describing a different course through the period between Episode III and IV. It’s far more grounded in the latter, though, featuring detailed renditions of the Empire’s most iconic weapons of war. It spawned an active modding scene, too.

Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption

RELEASED 2006 | DEVELOPER Petroglyph Games

Star Wars Empire At War Forces of Corruption 2006

Rather than stick to the series’ traditional binary conflict, Forces of Corruption introduces the Zann Consortium as an organised crime syndicate capable of playing both sides against each other. A refreshing break from the traditional ‘prequel trilogy tie-in’ formula.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

RELEASED 2008 | DEVELOPER LucasArts / Aspyr Media

Star Wars The Force Unleashed 2008

This was Star Wars’ answer to the era of gritty console character action games like God of War—an attempt to win over older fans with a take on the setting that emphasised massive Force destruction and brutal lightsaber kills. A lot of emphasis was placed on the narrative, too—the story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice and his quest to scowl and kill people in every signifi cant location in the Star Wars universe. Its interaction with the movies is clumsy in the extreme, but it’s not without drama and the more spectacular moments definitely stick in the mind—particularly bringing down a Star Destroyer using the Force. That said, this is also as over the top and videogamey as Star Wars combat gets—Jedi Academy had almost as much spectacle and far more nuance.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars—Republic Heroes

RELEASED 2008 | DEVELOPER Krome Studios

Star Wars The Clone Wars Republic Heroes 2009

An action-platformer tie-in to the Clone Wars kids TV series that mixes Jedi platforming with Clone Trooper third-person shooting. The Force Unleashed for kids, basically. Lego Star Wars has aged better and has more personality, but this may still appeal if you were 12 in 2009. Or are still 12, for that matter.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

RELEASED 2010 | DEVELOPER LucasArts / Aspyr Media

Star Wars The Force Unleashed II 2010

Wherein the ‘II’ stands for ‘two lightsabers’. Vader’s apprentice returns as a clone of Vader’s apprentice in a galaxy-shaking tale of revenge and rebellion that no longer happened thanks to LucasArts’ excision of the expanded universe. A little too similar to the original game to have the same kind of impact—by this point, ‘man uses Force on spaceship’ was an old trick.

Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures

RELEASED 2010 | DEVELOPER Sony Online Entertainment

Clone Wars Adventures 2010

Shorter-lived than Star Wars Galaxies, Clone Wars Adventures was a free-to-play MMO based on the Clone Wars cartoon. It was a small-scale themepark MMO in the World of Warcraft mould, though far less successful in that regard than The Old Republic would subsequently be. Minigames were used to furnish players with other types of experience, like fl ight, racing, and even tower defence. Clone Wars Adventures was reasonably well-presented, for what it was, but SOE (now Daybreak) ultimately determined that free to play MMOs for kids didn’t really work: parents’ wallets are only so deep, after all, and the cost of keeping the game updated ultimately outstretched its value to the developer. A shame for the game’s fans, but likely a victory for their homework.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

RELEASED 2011 | DEVELOPER Bioware

Star Wars The Old Republic 2011

The Old Republic, at launch, was a great MMO of the WoW sort and a remarkably complete singleplayer RPG experience, with eight entirely different game-length campaigns. The scope and expense of its production was remarkable, which goes some way to explaining why it suffered once dwindling subscriber numbers necessitated the switch to free-to-play. It’s gone a bit themepark-crazy since—particularly the recent Shadow of Revan expansion, which ties into KOTOR I—but it’s (mostly) free and much of the writing is genuinely excellent.

Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

RELEASED 2011 | DEVELOPER Traveller's Tales

LEGO Star Wars II The Clone Wars 2011

Another TV tie-in, therefore the Lego Star Wars game that you’re likely to have the least connection to. Introduced vehicle levels with an on-foot component, but otherwise highly similar to its predecessors. Almost a decade after the release of Attack of the Clones, the movie finally fades from the landscape of PC Star Wars gaming. It is the dawn of a new era.

Star Wars Battlefront

RELEASED 2015 | DEVELOPER DICE

Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars makes its grand return to the PC a decade after the release of Battlefront II. DICE's rebooted Battlefront has more in common with the simple Battlefront of old than its military shooter Battlefield, but with a slavish attention to Original Trilogy authenticity and graphical detail. Gone are some of Battlefront's staples, however, like the Galactic Conquest and class system. Time will tell if this new Battlefront holds our attention for long, but it sure is pretty.

And that's it! Expect to see many more additions to the Star Wars PC game canon in the coming years. For now, here's everything you need to know about Battlefront and our round-up of our favourite Star Wars games ever.

Chris is the editor of PC Gamer Pro. After many years spent turning beautiful trees into magazines, he now oversees our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports.