Star Wars: TIE Fighter

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Star Wars: TIE Fighter
Star Wars: Tie Fighter box art
Developer(s)Totally Games
Designer(s)Lawrence Holland
Edward Kilham
Composer(s)Peter McConnell
Platform(s)DOS, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows
Release20 July 1994[1]
Genre(s)Space simulation

Star Wars: TIE Fighter is a 1994 Star Wars space flight simulator and space combat video game, a sequel in the Star Wars: X-Wing series. It places the player in the role of an Imperial starfighter pilot during events that occur between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

The game was produced by Lawrence Holland and Edward Kilham's Totally Games studio. Based on X-Wing's game engine, TIE Fighter supports Gouraud shading and adds gameplay features and craft not available in X-Wing. TIE Fighter was updated and re-released several times, and it was a critical success. It is considered by some critics to be among the greatest video games of all time.


The game's plot begins soon after the Empire's victory on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. As with X-Wing, the player's character is unnamed in the game; however, an included novella and Prima Publishing's strategy guide name the character Maarek Stele and provide a background narrative. In addition to fighting Rebel Alliance forces, the player fights pirates, combatants in a civil war, and traitorous Imperial forces. The original game ends with the player preventing a coup against Emperor Palpatine and being personally rewarded during a large ceremony. Subsequent expansions focus on Grand Admiral Thrawn's efforts to stop an Imperial traitor; the final mission of the second expansion concludes just before the climactic battle at the end of Return of the Jedi. Though playing on the side of the Star Wars saga's villain, the game presents Imperial forces as maintainers of peace and order in a tumultuous galaxy, which was reinforced as the player character mostly serves under the tactical genius Thrawn rather than the terrifying Darth Vader.

The storyline is divided across thirteen tours of duty (seven in the original game and three in each of the expansion packs), each of which has four to eight missions. Although some of the tours can be played out of order, individual missions within each battle are played linearly. Mission briefings and debriefings, cutscenes, and in-flight communication advance the story.


After selecting a pilot file, the player views the "concourse", a hub with doors to different features of the game. While the main focus of gameplay is completing battles, the concourse also offers several other areas. The training simulator lets the player fly each of the pilotable Imperial craft through a complex obstacle course. The combat chamber offers four extra missions for each craft, ranging from training scenarios to historical reenactments of important missions. There is also a room to view mission recordings, and a tech room to view information about every spacecraft that appears in the game.[2] When the player selects a mission, they are given a briefing, consisting of a dialog describing the mission and an animated map illustrating vessel positions and basic flight patterns. The player may optionally read a list questions and answers about the mission.[2]

In addition to the standard mission briefing covering primary objectives, there is often another briefing given by a mysterious figure who belongs to the Emperor's Inner Circle. This person informs the pilot of optional secondary objectives and provides additional plot information. Completing the primary objectives allows the player to progress to the next mission and earn Imperial military promotion; completing secondary and secret objectives garners additional medals and promotions within the inner circle.[3]


The player pilots a TIE fighter inspecting freighters in the game's first story-related mission. Gouraud shading and a 3D view in the target information window are enhancements over the X-Wing game engine.

In-flight gameplay is similar to X-Wing, played primarily in first-person but with the option to switch to third-person. All flight takes place in space; the player does not encounter gravity or atmospheric effects. Mission roles including dogfighting, escorting or disabling other craft, inspecting vehicles, and attacking capital ships and space stations. Initial missions place the player in unshielded TIE fighter variants; as the game progresses, the player gains access to advanced fighters with shields and better armaments.[4]

Laser cannons and ion cannons serve as short range weapons, damaging or disabling targets respectively. Some starfighters carry limited number of missiles or torpedoes for additional range/firepower. As with X-Wing, the player needs to balance power allocation between weapons, engines, and shields (when available); some craft also require the player to further balance power for a beam weapon (a tractor beam which can prevent enemy fighters from maneuvering temporarily, or a jamming beam which can disrupt the defensive fire of enemy capital ships). The player can also change the firing modes of their 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 are rechargeable; they protect from damage but are depleted when absorbing damage. When the player's craft is unshielded, enemy fire will damage the player's hull. Hull damage can disable systems, such as the engines or targeting computer. Disabled systems will slowly be repaired; TIE Fighter allows the player to choose the order in which systems are repaired. Hull damage may also cause cockpit displays to break, rendering them useless for the remainder of the mission. Heavy hull damage will destroy the player's spacecraft. When the player's craft is destroyed before completing a mission, or the mission is otherwise a failure, the player can attempt the mission again. However, the mission is still successful if the player's craft is destroyed after all primary mission objectives are completed.

While based upon X-Wing, TIE Fighter does introduce several gameplay additions.[5] The targeting system allows players to target capital ships' and space stations' components, such as shield generators and weapons. Additionally, the targeting display shows a 3D model and relative orientation of the player's target. Mission objective status is accessible in-game, as is a log of in-flight messages.


The music for Star Wars: TIE Fighter was composed by Clint Bajakian and contains many of John Williams' themes from the original trilogy. However, many motifs (such as "The Imperial March" motifs) which were originally composed as dark motifs are used as heroic motifs. This is consistent with the theme of the game where the player plays as an Imperial TIE Fighter pilot working for the villainous Galactic Empire.

The in-game music played during flight sequences (missions) uses the iMuse game engine. The soundtrack uses leitmotifs to vary the music played during missions in reaction to the actions of the player or other mission events. For example, a special motif is played when player achieves a victory, when the mission is failed, when secondary or bonus goals or completed, when an Imperial or Rebel capital ship exits hyperspace, etc. This mirrors the use of leitmotifs in the original film music, while also varying the music sequence every mission.


A Mon Calamari Star Cruiser (foreground) and Victory-class Star Destroyer (background) viewed from a TIE Avenger cockpit in the 1998 X-Wing Collector Series version of TIE Fighter. This edition adds texture-mapped graphics.

LucasArts offered a pre-release demo on two floppy disks bundled with Computer Gaming World. The single-mission demo, sponsored by Dodge and featuring an ad for the Dodge Neon, advertises a spring 1994 TIE Fighter release. However, TIE Fighter was not released until July later that year: leaked by software pirates early in the month, with the official release on the 20th;[1] 17 months after X-Wing's debut. The Defender of the Empire expansion, which adds three battles, came out soon thereafter. Later that year, LucasArts released a Collector's CD-ROM version of X-Wing using TIE Fighter's updated graphics engine.

In 1995, TIE Fighter also received a Collector's CD-ROM. The CD-ROM version offered optional enhanced SVGA graphics, increasing the game's resolution from 320x200 to 640x480.[3] The cinematic cutscenes were also enhanced, and the game received numerous voiceovers. The CD-ROM includes the previously released Defender of the Empire expansion and an additional Enemies of the Empire expansion. This CD-ROM also added support for gameplay under Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9.

TIE Fighter is part of the 1998 X-Wing Collector Series, which also includes updated versions of X-Wing and a pared-down version of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. This version drops DOS support, installing only under Windows 9x. TIE Fighter and X-Wing use the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter flight engine, which adds 3D-accelerated graphics and texture mapping. The MIDI-based interactive soundtrack used in previous versions is replaced by looped Red Book audio recordings of John Williams' Star Wars score.[3] This version also requires a joystick; previously, players could use a mouse and keyboard. This version was later bundled with the X-Wing Trilogy, which includes X-Wing and X-Wing Alliance.

On October 28, 2014, TIE Fighter along with X-Wing were released digitally for the first time on Both the original DOS and Windows editions were included, with updates to run on modern PCs.[6]


Gamebytes Magazine gave the original release its "very highest recommendation", citing numerous improvements over X-Wing. The reviewer called the graphics "astonishing" and noted improved artificial intelligence and in-flight information systems. The review's "single complaint" was the lackluster ending.[2] Edge praised many of the graphic and gameplay enhancements and new features over X-Wing, but described the missions as repetitive and complained the game loses appeal when the player isn't fighting for the underdog Rebellion.[4] GameSpot's review of the Collector's CD-ROM Edition called TIE Fighter "the best space combat game ever made" and praised the updated graphics.[5]

Macworld's Michael Gowan summarized TIE Fighter as a "great game" that offers the "action of a World War II dogfight".[15]

Next Generation reviewed the Macintosh version of the game, rating it three stars out of five, and stated that "TIE Fighter, like the movies, isn't really at the cutting edge, but both still offer more depth and considered design than many young razzle-dazzlers."[8]

Awards and legacy[edit]

TIE Fighter was named the best "Fantasy Simulation" and best overall computer game of 1994 by Computer Games Strategy Plus,[16] while the editors of PC Gamer US declared it the year's top action game and "the best space-combat simulation ever created." It was a runner-up for the latter magazine's overall "Game of the Year" award, which went to Doom.[17] Similarly, Computer Gaming World nominated TIE Fighter in its "Action Game of the Year" and "Game of the Year" categories, but gave these prizes to Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger and X-COM: UFO Defense, respectively.[18]

In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared TIE Fighter the 56th-best computer game ever released.[19] TIE Fighter became the second Lawrence Holland game to be inducted into Computer Gaming World's "Hall of Fame"[9] and was inducted into GameSpot's "Greatest Games of All Time" in July 2004[10] and IGN's "Hall of Fame" in 2007.[12] In 1996, GamesMaster rated the game 66th on its "Top 100 Games of All Time."[20]

PC Gamer US named Tie Fighter Collector's CD-ROM the "Best CD-ROM Enhancement" of 1995. The editors called it "an enhanced CD-ROM version that comes close to being a whole new game, and is well worth having even if you've already got the original TIE Fighter."[21] The magazine ranked the Collector's CD-ROM Edition #1 in its "Top 50 Greatest Games of All Time" list in May 1997.[14] It was ranked #3 on IGN's list of the top 25 PC games of all time in 2007 and #2 in 2009.[11][13] The game was recognized again by IGN in 2010 when it was named the "best Star Wars game ever made".[22]

In 1998, PC Gamer declared the TIE Fighter Collector's CD-ROM the 4th-best computer game ever released, and the editors called it "Now updated and looking better than ever [...] TIE Fighter is still an untarnished classic".[23]

In 1996 Next Generation ranked TIE Fighter and Star Wars: X-Wing collectively as number 23 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", citing the graphics, sound effects, flight engine, and the sense of accomplishment after finishing a mission.[24]

Maarek Stele from the Prima Publishing strategy guide later appears as a TIE Advanced[25] and TIE Defender[26] pilot in the Star Wars: X-Wing miniatures game produced by Fantasy Flight Games.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bauman, Adam S. (November 3, 1994). "COLUMN ONE : The Pirates of the Internet : As the global computer network grows so do the rings of thieves who use it to steal software. Frustrated security experts say they may have to resort to bounty hunters". Los Angeles Times. p. 1. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Sandler, Phil (1994). "TIE FIGHTER from LucasArts".
  3. ^ a b c "GameSpot Presents The Greatest Games Of All Time". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on April 24, 2006.
  4. ^ a b "TIE Fighter Review". Edge. Matthew Pierce. July 28, 1994. Archived from the original on June 18, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c McDonald, T. Liam (May 1, 1996). "Star Wars TIE Fighter: Collector's CD-ROM Review". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on October 7, 2013.
  6. ^ "New Publisher: Disney Interactive / Lucasfilm -". October 28, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Fact Sheet". Totally Games. July 3, 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 36. Imagine Media. December 1997. p. 176.
  9. ^ a b "CGW's Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "The Greatest Games of all Time". Archived from the original on August 19, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  11. ^ a b Adams, Dan; Butts, Steve; Onyett, Charles (March 16, 2007). "Top 25 PC Games of All Time". IGN. Retrieved March 20, 2009.
  12. ^ a b "IGN Videogame Hall Of Fame: Star Wars: TIE Fighter". IGN. 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  13. ^ a b "Top 25 PC Games of All Time". IGN. August 6, 2009. Archived from the original on August 9, 2009. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  14. ^ a b "PC Gamer". May 1997. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ a b Gowan, Michael (February 1999). "Name Your Game; From Goofy to Gory, Macworld Reviews 48 Ways to Play". Macworld. Archived from the original on August 10, 2001.
  16. ^ Staff (November 2000). "A Decade of Gaming; Award Winners of 1994". Computer Games Magazine (120): 56–58, 60, 62, 66, 68, 70–76.
  17. ^ Staff (March 1995). "The First Annual PC Gamer Awards". PC Gamer. 2 (3): 44, 45, 47, 48, 51.
  18. ^ Staff (May 1995). "The Computer Gaming World 1995 Premier Awards". Computer Gaming World. No. 130. pp. 35, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44.
  19. ^ Staff (November 1996). "150 Best (and 50 Worst) Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World. No. 148. pp. 63–65, 68, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 84, 88, 90, 94, 98.
  20. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time" (PDF). GamesMaster (44): 76. July 1996.
  21. ^ Editors of PC Gamer (March 1996). "The Year's Best Games". PC Gamer US. 3 (3): 64, 65, 67, 68, 71, 73–75.
  22. ^ "Best Star Wars Games Ever Made". IGN. J2 Global. May 20, 2010. Archived from the original on May 23, 2010.
  23. ^ The PC Gamer Editors (October 1998). "The 50 Best Games Ever". PC Gamer US. 5 (10): 86, 87, 89, 90, 92, 98, 101, 102, 109, 110, 113, 114, 117, 118, 125, 126, 129, 130. {{cite journal}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  24. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 63.
  25. ^ Elite Pilots and Advanced Tactics: Preview the Upcoming TIE Advanced Expansion Pack for X-Wing by Fantasy Flight Games
  26. ^ Defend the Empire: A Preview of the Imperial Veterans Expansion Pack for X-Wing by Fantasy Flight Games
  27. ^ "Pyramid: Pyramid Pick: Tie Fighter".

External links[edit]