If you were a giant Star Wars nerd who played video games in the ‘90s, now is probably a good time to head over to GOG, which has just released its second wave of classic LucasFilm games.
This second wave includes Dark Forces, Knights of the Old Republic II, Star Wars Battlefront II, and for the first time ever in digital distribution, X-Wing Alliance, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and Galactic Battlegrounds Saga.
These join the original TIE Fighter, X-Wing, and comedy adventure classic Sam & Max Hit the Road, which GOG released in October last year in a partnership deal with Disney, which acquired the rights to the titles in 2012 when it bought LucasFilm for $4.06 billion.
That’s a lot of Star Wars games, so here are some recommendations to help you sort through it all:
Dark Forces 20 percent off, $4.79: It’s Star Wars Doom. This game introduced the character Kyle Katarn, who would go on to become the protagonist in several outstanding titles. But at 20 years old, Dark Forces’ Jedi Engine graphics have not aged well. If you don’t mind jumping in later on in the story, Jedi Knight II is substantially more modern and is currently 50 percent off on Steam for $4.99.
Galactic Battlegrounds Saga $5.99: As a GOG commenter points out, this is more or less Age of Empires with a Star Wars paint job. That’s not a bad thing, though – there are precious few Star Wars real-time strategy titles, and GOG’s edition of Galactic Battlegrounds Saga includes the expansion pack, The Clone Campaigns. Beware, however – this was released amid the prequel films, and therefore features units and locations taken from those dreadful things.
Knights of the Old Republic II 20 percent off, $7.99: You don’t even need to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy the Knights of the Old Republic titles – they’re both terrific RPGs in their own right. KOTOR II improves on the original, with a dark, well-written story and finessed game mechanics. It’s a very satisfying balance of playability and depth, and the narrative surpasses most of what’s passed for Star Wars canon in the last 20 years.
Star Wars Battlefront II 20 percent off, $7.99: This is the Star Wars version of the early Battlefield games, and provides exactly the kind of Star Wars video game experience I had always wanted: Driving the AT-ATs assaulting the Rebel base on Hoth. The game allows for gigantic 64-player battles, with a bunch of character classes to choose and vehicles to drive. There are even maps where you can hop aboard a troop transport to invade an enemy spaceship, while other players dogfight. Getting into multiplayer matches may be tricky, however, as neither Steam nor GOG currently support it natively. However, Gameranger may be a viable peer-to-peer solution.
X-Wing Alliance and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter $9.99 each: These games were my jam, and they’re why I’ve been getting feelings about Elite: Dangerous and the upcoming Star Citizen. The dogfighting in the original Star Wars films enthralled me as a child, and these titles are focused exclusively on that. Sure, you can fly around in Battlefront, but X-Wing Alliance and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter both felt so much more serious about simulating that fighter combat. They feature much higher-resolution visuals than their forebears, which by now look very clunky. My brothers and I wore out at least two joysticks playing these and I’m keen to go for a third, since this is the first time I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy since the physical printing back in the ‘90s. Here again, though, multiplayer is not (yet) supported natively in the GOG editions, and they haven’t yet been added to Gameranger’s list of supported titles. Other third-party workarounds may be out there, though.
Keep in mind that GOG editions of classic games are all DRM-free, which is great unless you really need Steam integration (and for these titles, that really doesn’t matter).
In their announcement Tuesday, GOG coyly hinted at more LucasFilm titles to come. Polygon reported in October that their deal with Disney Interactive will result in about 30 DRM-free releases on the site.