Tie Fighter: Total Conversion
PC Gamer|November 2021
A brilliant port of the classic dogfighting sim.
Christopher Livingston

It can be hard going back to play a game you loved years ago. Sometimes nostalgia is strong enough to overlook things like aging graphics, tinny sound, and fewer of the features we’ve become accustomed to with modern games. But sometimes no matter how much you enjoyed a game in the past, it’s just too difficult to get back into it again when so many years, or even decades, have gone by.

And it can be especially hard convincing other people to play a game from a couple of decades ago. I can tell people until I’m blue in the face that LucasArts’ 1994 dogfighting simulator TIE Fighter isn’t just one of the best Star Wars games ever, but that it’s one of the best games ever, full stop. It’s a true classic. Unfortunately, these days, it looks like a classic, too. It’s just really, really old. I think if you didn’t play it then, you’d be pretty unlikely to play it now.

So to my mind, TIE Fighter: Total Conversion is just about as close as you can get to a perfect mod. Not only does it do a fantastic job of porting the original TIE Fighter into Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, it comes with updated visuals, sports a remastered soundtrack, and adds to the original campaign with new and more expansive missions.

It even supports VR, thanks to the X-Wing Alliance Upgrade Project, which is another hefty mod that you’ll need to get this one running. All told TIE Fighter: Total Conversion and X-Wing Alliance Upgrade Project are two of the most impressive and essential mods I’ve ever seen. They really reach into the past and pull TIE Fighter into the present, staying true to the original but updating it so it feels new and modern. It’s been a real joy booting up the mod, climbing into my ship, and doing battle with the Rebel Alliance.

TIES THAT BIND

When the original TIE Fighter came out, it was a pretty remarkable game because it let you play as the bad guys, the Empire, which wasn’t a perspective we’d had before or even knew we wanted. And that perspective didn’t even make you feel like that bad of a guy, really. Through TIE: Fighter’s lens, the Empire was just trying to keep the galaxy in order and the Rebellion was a bunch of chaotic, grubby space bandits who were stirring up trouble. Sometimes if you want to embrace peace you have to catch it in your black-gloved hands and crush it. TIE Fighter’s story, amazingly, made you feel like you were doing the right thing.

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