Star Wars: TIE Fighter

Star Wars: TIE Fighter
Star Wars: TIE Fighter
Star Wars: Tie Fighter box art
Developer(s) Totally Games
Publisher(s) LucasArts
Designer(s) Lawrence Holland
Edward Kilham
Platform(s) DOS, Macintosh
Release date(s) July 1994
Genre(s) Space simulation
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) RSAC: V2: Humans killed
Media/distribution 3.5" floppy disk (2)
System requirements

Sound card,
1 MB hard disk space

Star Wars: TIE Fighter, a 1994 space flight simulator/space combat computer game, is the sequel to Star Wars: X-Wing, and the first game of the series that puts the player on the side of the Galactic Empire.

A notable improvement in TIE Fighter is the flight engine, which supports Gouraud shading, an effect that makes curves and mass appear more realistic. There are many flight options added, like flight dialogues and messages, a message log, a list of objectives, ships' status and behaviour, a three dimensional heads-up display, a sub-target system, the ability to match speed with a target, and other improvements. TIE Fighter is regarded by many as the best title in the series and one of the most successful space flight simulator games.[citation needed]



The player pilots a TIE fighter during a cargo inspection mission.

The plot picks up where B-Wing left off, soon after the Battle of Hoth. While the Rebel Alliance is the main enemy in the early part of the game, there are some campaigns about maintaining order in the galaxy (mediating a civil war, fighting pirates), and many later missions deal with traitorous Imperials.

The player assumes the role of a rookie TIE fighter pilot. The main character of TIE Fighter is Maarek Stele, although his name is only revealed in the official strategy guide as well as a novella entitled The Stele Chronicles that came with the initial release versions of the game.

Despite playing on the side of the Star Wars saga's "villain", the player's role is somewhat sympathetic, as the game's portrayal of the Empire—dictated, of course, by the player's superiors—focuses on its role as a guardian of order. This is as there are only a few missions where the player is under the shadow of the unforgiving Darth Vader, although he features prominently on the front cover. Instead the Imperial leadership that the player answers to is usually led by others, most notably Admiral Thrawn who has a different command style, not surprisingly as the game designers drew heavily from Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire series of novels in many of the plot elements.[1]

In addition to the standard mission briefing, there is a secondary briefing available in most missions, given by a mysterious figure who belongs to the Emperor's Inner Circle. This person briefs the pilot on the secondary and optional objectives. Successfully completing them does not alter the scenario or the overall success of the mission, but initiates the pilot in an Imperial "secret society." These secondary briefings also reveal significant plot points, such as evidence of Admiral Harkov's treason and other twists. The game designers wrote the "story in a way that lessens the difficulty curve"; primary objectives were required to advance to the next mission, but the secondary and secret objectives open up intriguing subplots as well as giving an opportunity for the player to become one of Emperor Palpatine's most trusted servants (similar to Mara Jade).[2]

The story evolves in seven different systems, separated into seven tours of duty of four or more missions each. A few of these tours depicts the Empire's efforts to develop advanced starfighters, the TIE Advanced (also nicknamed the TIE "Avenger") and TIE Defender. A subplot during several of these campaigns is finding out evidence that Admiral Harkov is planning to defect to the Rebellion, then capturing him and destroying his forces.

The original game ends with the player preventing rogue Admiral Zaarin's surprise coup against Emperor Palpatine and being personally rewarded during a large ceremony reminiscent of the Yavin celebration at the end of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Subsequent expansions (see below) mostly revolve around Admiral Thrawn's efforts to stop the traitor Zaarin.


As a space flight simulator game, TIE Fighter puts the player at the controls of various starfighters in space combat against enemy spacecraft. Most frequent are dogfights with other fast and nimble starfighters. There are also often assaults on large capital ships and space stations which have powerful turbolaser defenses and strong shields that take time to be worn down. There are times where the player has to assist in the capture of craft and space stations, by wearing down and perhaps disabling the target so that a stormtrooper transport can board it. Players also occasionally engage in noncombat duties such as inspecting passing cargo ships at a checkpoint and escorting shuttles carrying VIPs, although all missions in the game eventually reach combat. Combat can take place at short ranges using laser cannons and ion cannons, and at long ranges with powered guided munitions such as concussion missiles and proton torpedoes.

The game is played primarily in first-person, but the player can optionally switch to third person at any time. All flight takes place in space, so the player does not encounter gravity or atmospheric effects while flying. The game uses unrealistic physics which do not include momentum - a ship's engine must always be active to keep it moving. The player can change the firemodes of his or her fighter's weapons (for example having a pair of laser cannons fire together or alternately). If the ship possesses shields, the player chooses the shield balance between front and rear shields.

An important part of gameplay is energy management - to recharge his or her fighter's lasers and shields, the player must divert power away from the fighter's engines, which slows the fighter down. Power flow can be redirected at several levels. The player can also shunt power from the shields to the lasers or vice-versa, but this causes some power to be lost.

Most fighters feature warhead launchers using warheads specified by the player before the mission. Warheads are limited and combat for the player will inevitably transition to short-range dogfighting once the warhead supply is depleted; however, some missions give the player a resupply craft, which when summoned by the player will dock with the player's stationary craft and refill the fighter's warhead supply. If the player fires warheads while being resupplied the resupply craft will stay docked to the player and essentially provide an unlimited supply of warheads. There are several types of warheads which appear to reflect game mechanics instead of the "actual" Star Wars universe; concussion missiles are intended to be used against fighters while proton torpedoes are meant for larger and less agile targets such as freighters and shuttles; the even more powerful but slower heavy rocket and heavy space bomb are usually used only against capital ships and space stations.

In later missions the player becomes a squadron leader and can issue basic orders to his or her wingmen.

New craft

The pre-release demonstration of TIE Fighter.

Besides allowing the player to fly the original sparsely-equipped TIE starfighters (TIE fighters, TIE bombers, and TIE interceptors) seen in the films, the game also adds new craft with shields, ion cannons and other assorted weaponry, and hyperdrives. These included the Cygnus Assault Gunboat, TIE advanced, TIE defender (added to the Star Wars: Essential Guide to Vehicles), and Cygnus Missile Boat (in the Defender of the Empire and Enemies of the Empire expansion packs). Particularly the Advanced, Defender, and Missile Boat are vastly superior to Rebel fighters, and for subsequent X-Wing series games they were removed or had their attributes toned down significantly.

By the fifth Tour of Duty, the player is exclusively piloting the new Imperial craft and not the original TIEs, so game-play ends up similar to X-Wing. This is somewhat at odds with the "official" Imperial Navy doctrine in Star Wars, as the Imperials in the films and other works are portrayed as making mass overwhelming attacks with expendable craft. The apparent disparity is explained by the events in TIE Fighter being portrayed as largely secret campaigns involving experimental technology; for instance in the Essential Guide to Vehicles it states that only a "few key Imperial personnel knew that the TIE Defender was used to defeat rogue Admiral Zaarin" and the Defender was considered too expensive for full production.

The game also introduces spacecraft and characters from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, including the Z-95 Headhunter from Brian Daley's Han Solo trilogy and Grand Admiral Thrawn, a central character in Timothy Zahn's trilogy. TIE Fighter and the Defender of the Empire expansion pack introduce many craft that never again appear outside the X-Wing computer game series. Examples include space platforms, the Mon Calamari Light Cruiser, R-41 Starchasers, and T-Wings (although T-Wings and platforms are referenced in some Star Wars novels).

Expansions and other versions

One additional campaign disk, Defender of the Empire, was released as a subsequent expansion pack. It includes three tours of duty revolving around Admiral Thrawn's efforts to stop to rogue Admiral Zaarin, who after failing to overthrow the Emperor, has begun threatening loyalist Imperial TIE Advanced and TIE Defender facilities.

  • "Strategic Warfare" (Omar system) — Zaarin attempts sabotage.
  • "T/D Technology" (Parmel system) — Secure TIE Defender technology.
  • "New Threats" (Eva-T system) — Counter-attack against Zaarin.

The player flies the TIE Defender for two out of the three tours. The "New Threats" tour of duty sees the introduction of a new type of Imperial starfighter called the Missile Boat, which had a single laser cannon, dual armaments of missiles and torpedoes/bombs, and a SLAM afterburner overdrive system. At the conclusion of this campaign, with the destruction of a pirate's TIE Defender factory, the traitor Zaarin is still at large.

A second expansion campaign disk called Enemies of the Empire was planned in the same way that the original X-Wing was followed by Imperial Pursuit and B-Wing. It was never released on its own, however, but was instead released as part of the TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM (see below).

Collector's editions

The special edition of TIE Fighter featured higher resolution graphics and more detailed ship textures among other audiovisual enhancements.

Like X-Wing, TIE Fighter was re-released in enhanced versions.

TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM — The first special edition was the TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM, released in 1995. This version offered enhanced SVGA graphics, upping the game's resolution from 320x200 to 640x480. With the CD-ROM medium, LucasArts significantly redesigned several cinematic cutscenes and added a large amount of voiceovers. This edition included the previously released Defender of the Empire, and the second expansion Enemies of the Empire.

Enemies of the Empire chronicles the player's efforts under Admiral Thrawn to defeat the Zaarin insurrection for once and all, in part by setting a trap with the cloaked Vorknkx corvette, as Zaarin's weakness was technology. Also under Darth Vader, the player ensures the capture of a group of Rebel spies who have information about the Second Death Star as a trap, in order to prevent them from relaying the information to Alliance high command. The story concludes just before the Battle of Endor.

  • "Enemies of the Empire" campaign
    • "Hunt for Zaarin" (Semag system) — Thrawn seeks the traitor Zaarin.
    • "Prelude to Endor" (Yllotat system) — Investigate the Bothan-Rebel connection.
    • "The Emperor's Will" (Iast system) — Supporting the final stages of the Death Star II's construction

The only version of TIE Fighter available for the Macintosh computer is the Collector's CD-ROM version of the game. It requires OS8 or OS9 and a joystick is recommended for game control. It will also run on Mac OS X in the Classic Environment, but requires some work for it to do so.

X-Wing Collector Series — The second collector's edition came with the release of the X-Wing Collector Series package. This came with enhanced versions of X-Wing Collector's CD and TIE Fighter Collector's CD, along with a cut-down version of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter called Flight School. LucasArts also replaced TIE-Fighter's and X-Wing's graphics engine with X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter's, which used standard object textures instead of the, by then, primitive gouraud shading used in earlier versions.

Unfortunately with this release, the complex iMUSE MIDI soundtracks were replaced with simple looped Red Book audio recordings of the Star Wars score, presumably to avoid any potential incompatibility with Windows 95. Furthermore, previous versions could be played satisfactorily with only a mouse and keyboard, but the Collector Series required a joystick to run the game.

X-Wing Trilogy — There was a third special release, called X-Wing Trilogy. This package offered the same releases of X-Wing, TIE Fighter, and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter as the previous X-Wing Collector Series, but also added X-Wing Alliance into the bundle.

The Collector's CD-ROM edition and the Collector Series edition of X-Wing and TIE Fighter have many dissimilarities. Besides the use of new graphics and sound engines, the Collector Series edition omits many of the small movies and animations found in the Collector's CD-ROM and original floppy disk editions. Furthermore, the Collector Series edition does not use the iMUSE interactive MIDI soundtrack from the original game release and the Collector's CD-ROM edition, which is instead replaced by the static Red Book audio-based John Williams movie soundtrack.


A demo of the game was released as an insert in Computer Gaming World prior to the official launch of the game. This demo was based on an unfinished build of the game and has some unique features as a result. The TIE fighter was the only available ship and the sole aim of the mission was to destroy several Corellian Corvettes. Upon accomplishing the objective the mission looped. The cockpit is not the same as that in the final game, sound effects are different, and the soundtrack is from Star Wars: X-Wing. The demo was sponsored by Dodge and displayed a Neon car advertisement before the gameplay began. It came on two 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy disks. The demo announced the game's release date as "Spring 1994", meaning between March and June of that year, but it wasn't released until July.[3]

Critical response

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
MobyGames 92/100[4]
Review scores
Publication Score
Entity Award
CGW "Hall of Fame"
GameSpot "Greatest Games of All Time"
IGN "Top 25 PC Games of All Time"
#2 (2009)[7]
#3 (2007)[8]
IGN "Hall of Fame"
PC Gamer "50 Best Games of All Time"
#1 (1997)[10]

At the 1995 Computer Game Developers Conference, TIE Fighter earned Totally Games the "Honored Developer Award."[citation needed] TIE Fighter became the second Lawrence Holland game to be inducted into Computer Gaming World's "Hall of Fame",[5] and was inducted into GameSpot's "Greatest Games of All Time" in July 2004[6] and IGN's "Hall of Fame" in 2007.[9] PC Gamer ranked TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM #1 in its "Top 50 Greatest Games of All Time" list in its May 1997 issue,[10] and #13 in April 2005.[11] In its 2007, 2008 and 2010 "Top 100 PC Games of All Time" lists PC Gamer would rank it #49, #63 and #73 respectively.[12][13][14] It was ranked #3 on IGN's list of the top 25 PC games of all time in 2007 and #2 in 2009.[8][7] It was ranked #11, #9 and #12 on IGN's "Top 100 Games of All Time" lists in 2003, 2005 and 2007 respectively.[15][16][17] The game was recognized by IGN once again in 2010, when it was named the best Star Wars game ever made.[18] In March 2004, GMR magazine rated TIE Fighter the second best Star Wars game of all time.[19] PC Zone named it the #58 "Best PC Game Ever" in 2007.[20]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ TIE Fighter demo, LucasArts.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "CGW's Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  6. ^ a b "The Greatest Games of all Time". Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  7. ^ a b IGN messed up the original URL by overwriting it with a newer article for some odd reason.
  8. ^ a b Adams, Dan; Butts, Steve; Onyett, Charles (2007-03-16). "Top 25 PC Games of All Time". IGN. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  9. ^ a b "IGN Videogame Hall Of Fame: Star Wars: TIE Fighter". IGN. 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  10. ^ a b PC Gamer. May 1997. 
  11. ^ PC Gamer. April 2005. 
  12. ^ "PC Gamer's Best 100". PC Gamer. August 13, 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  13. ^ "PC Gamer's Top 100". PC Gamer. August 5, 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  14. ^ "PC Gamer's top 100 PC Games of all time". PC Gamer. February 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  15. ^ "IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time". IGN. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  16. ^ "IGN's Top 100 Games". IGN. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  17. ^ "IGN Top 100 Games 2007". IGN. IGN. 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  18. ^ Best Star Wars Games Ever Made
  19. ^ TheForce.Net -- New Battlefront and Republic Commando Article
  20. ^ "The 101 best PC games ever, part two". PC Zone. May 15, 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 

External links

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