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TIE Fighter is a PC game first launched in 1994, with various expansion packs and collector's editions being released as late as 1997.
The history of the game itself goes back to the early 1990s, when Lucas Arts approached game developer Lawrence Holland and his studio, Totally Games!, to develop a series of games for the publisher. The first games were actually WWII flight simulators including Battlehawks 1942 and perhaps Holland's best known non-franchise game, Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. These games became instant classics, and in the meantime Holland was working on a 3D rendering engine specifically for flight sims, something that back in 1992 was revolutionary.
This prompted Lucas Arts and Holland to develop a flight (or rather space) sim game using both this engine and the Star Wars license, and X Wing was the result. A year later, Holland got working on a sequel. Rather than being a direct sequel chronicling the Rebel Alliance and their starfighter squadrons after the Battle of Hoth (which is where X-Wing left off), the game would put the pilot in the ranks of the Rebel's greatest enemies, the Galactic Empire, by putting them in the seat of one of the Empire's greatest symbols of military might, the TIE Fighter.
The main protagonist of TIE Fighter was Maarek Steele (though he was never named as such in the game; his name comes from the supplemental guidebook that came with first run editions of the game) who started out as an anonymous pilot but would rise through the ranks with distinction over the course of the game's events. What separated TIE Fighter from X-Wing in particular was its rather involving story and campaign, which not only pitted the player against the Rebels (and certain traitorous Imperials) but also explained the motivations behind the actions of the Empire and its enemies and gave significant insight into many key characters of the Star Wars universe, including Thrawn (a major story thread of the game is how Thrawn was promoted from Vice Admiral to Grand Admiral). The game also presented optional "secondary" mission goals which, when completed, would earn the player additional rank.
Since flying around in an unshielded TIE Fighter when the other guys have much faster and better shielded craft wasn't much fun, the game also introduced a number of new craft for the Imperials to fly around in. The "Assault Gunboat," invented for X-Wing to give the player a more challenging foe, was reintroduced in TIE Fighter to provide him with a craft that actually could be able to attack capital ships without dying all the time. Also introduced was the "TIE Advanced" or "TIE Avenger" which was an improved production version of Darth Vader's TIE from A New Hope (it also had shields and a hyperdrive like the Assault Gunboat), the TIE Defender (a starfighter which pretty much defines the term "broken") and the Missile Boat (which manages to outdo even the TIE Defender in terms of being broken - you can take out entire fleets with one. And it is awesome).
Another notable feature of the original issue was the "iMuse" system (no, it doesn't have anything to do with iMacs or iPods) which dynamically changed the background music based upon the player's actions. The background music itself was notable for being comprised of original scores by the Totally Games! crew. Sadly, the iMuse feature was dropped in the X-Wing Collector Series box-set rerelease, replaced by high-fidelity scores from the original trilogy, though the soundtrack's still quite good.
The market life of this game was extended numerous times through various expansions and "collector's editions." This was particularly annoying as Lucas Arts and Totally Games! clearly anticipated expansion packs from the beginning, since they left the campaign story of the original release of the game blatantly incomplete. The first expansion, "Defender of the Empire" added the TIE Defender and its associated campaign missions - by the way, even after installing Defender of the Empire, many players were annoyed when it was found that they still left the campaign story incomplete because those money grubbing bastards were going to force yet more expansion packs! The final "expansion pack" was abandoned in favor of releasing the "Collector's CD" edition in 1995 which not only (finally) included a finished campaign story, but upped the in-game resolution to 640x480 (though no changes were made to the graphics engine itself) as well as updated speech and voice acting. Of course, understandably, original purchasers of the first game were very annoyed since in order to actually complete the campaign, they had to buy the game all over again. And then they had the nerve to rerelease it again in the X-Wing Collector Series, this time stripping it of the iMuse music technology in favour of the Williams scores. Fortunately all was forgiven because in the end, TIE Fighter turned out to be just that damn good.
Despite its age, you'll still see this game often in top 5 lists of best Star Wars-themed games ever, and often across other related "best of" lists too.
All the cutscenes have been collected here.
- Arrow Cam
- A-Team Firing: Based on how the AI works, stopping the craft is an effective method of avoiding enemy fire from X-Wings and Z-95 Headhunters, on par with erratic maneuvering. Y-Wings or other craft that shoots from the cockpit will still hit.
- Beat Them At Their Own Game: Doubly subverted as traitor Imperial forces will adopt the tactics and equipment your side developed (indeed, it was them who developed them in the first place before they turned traitor), forcing you to use the same tactics to counter them (as they're the best available) until something even better can be developed.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: You can make an argument that enemy TIE Defenders qualify since they will waste everything besides the player.
- Chasing Your Tail: Otherwise known as dogfights.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Admiral Harkov.
- Chewing the Scenery: "For the greater glory of the Empire, destroy everything!
- Civil Warcraft: Big time. Twice.
- As well as varying who you fight, this is also a good explanation for why the Rebels stand a chance against the Empire (which, as we see, not only has numbers but game-breakingly good craft like the TIE Defender and Missile Boat) - because the Empire is expending a lot of its resources in fighting its own traitorous generals.
- Classic Video Game Screw Yous: TIE Fighters have two laser cannons, no other weapons, no shields, no hyperdrive, and essentially six hit points. Enemy TIE Fighters in the expansion have shields.
- Copy and Paste Environments: Understandable, since one part of outer space has a tendency to look like every other part of outer space.
- Collision Damage: A surprisingly effective weapon against other, weaker fighters, by the way. However, it is toned down a lot in this version.
- Cool Ship: Two of them.
- First, you've got the inaccurately-named TIE Defender, which dominates all the other TIEs in speed, acceleration, maneuverability, and weapons systems. Yes, it's that powerful. Four lasers, 2 ion cannons, and 8 missiles mean it can dominate in space superiorty situations. It's a full 50% faster than a X-Wing or TIE Interceptor, and comfortably faster than an A-Wing or TIE Advanced, while also being more maneuverable. With strong shields and its own hyperdrive, it could pop in anywhere and basically stomp on any other fighter's head, while they would be unable to escape.
- Secondly, you've got the holy hell war god Missile Boat, which is extremely powerful and was designed specifically to kill TIE Defenders with ease. It has merely one laser, but as its name implies, it carries more missiles than an entire wing of starfighters, enough to use them as its primary weapons at all times. The otherwise forgotten laser can instead be used to power the Missile Boat's exclusive SLAM system, which basically dumps all the energy from your laser banks into your engine for a phenomenal boost of speed, giving it the ability to jump in or escape pretty much any situation at will. And like a lot of advanced imperial fighters, it has special beam systems, typically a tractor beam. This thing is designed to kill TIE Defenders by zooming up on top of them before they know it, grabbing them with the tractor beam before they can escape, and then pounding the poor bastard with a nearly endless supply of missiles. This plan works wonders against pretty much any fighter. And if it's armed for a bombing role instead, it can destroy entire fleets without having to pause or reload, simply because it carries that much ordnance.
- Before either of these rear their heads, the TIE Advance is the king of the hill, though not quite game-breaker material. It has decent shields, 4 laser cannons, its own hyperdrive, a set of missiles, and just enough speed to beat an A-Wing in a race. This is the ship Darth Vader's personal TIE is based on. Of course, a short time later the Defender and Missile Boat show up, making everyone forget about the poor Advance.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: Whereas enemy TIE Defenders can wreck an entire flight group of Assault Gunboats each, once you have some on your side they have an annoying tendency to fall in single combat against measly A-Wings.
- Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: When the player's character dies (a rare event in of itself, actually) or is captured, it shows a cutscene with the charater's demise. While X Wing allowed you to continue by reviving your pilot and resetting the score, TIE Fighter allows an automatic backup and restore to bring you back without penalty. If you want, you can disable the automatic backup and try the game without dying.
- Death of a Thousand Cuts: In this game, you now have the option to take out turrets on capital ships, rendering them defenseless. Likewise, you can use Ion cannons to quickly disable large capital ships. The result in either case allows you to destroy the largest of ships using lasers.
- Deconstruction: Everything you learned about the "proper order" of the galaxy in Star Wars is subverted, since after all you are fighting for the Empire this time.
- Dogfighting Furballs: The entire game revolves around it.
- Dronejam: Your wingmates have a nasty occasional habit of getting in front of your crossfire. And vice versa, as well - death from friendly fire is waaaaaaay too common. Avoiding it is possible, but living through the experience is a headache in and of itself. It's far too easy to end up between dueling capital ships more than once when trying to not shoot down your wingmates upon which Hilarity Ensues.
- Easter Egg
- Enemy Chatter: Apparently no one's heard of "secure communications channels" in the Star Wars universe.
- Enemy Scan: built right into your fighter, just get really close to them and you find out what they're carrying. This is actually a plot point for at least one secret objective, as it's how the player begins to find out about Harkov's double dealing.
- Escort Mission: and how!
- Fake Difficulty: In this game, very much related to the above trope.
- Falling Into the Cockpit: The feelies reveal your character was a mechanic running a test on a fighter who happened to save a high ranking Imperial officer from rebellion attack during the flight.
- Feelies: "The Steele Chronicles"
- Fridge Brilliance: It seems more than a bit obscene that in a game like this, you'd spend so little time fighting the Rebels and so much fighting Imperial splinters. Why can't The Emperor keep all his eggs in a basket long enough to finish the Rebels off once and for- Oh..... so *that's* why the Rebels survived in canon...
- Friend or Foe: Averted for earlier missions, in that the Rebels are coded green on the map and threat display, and fly typical Rebel Alliance craft. However, as the game progresses, you are increasingly called upon to fight Imperial hardware, which usually are in the hands of defected or traitorous forces, and are encoded red (the same as your side). Generally though they will appear with Z- or H- prefixed names, indicating that they are on the opposite side.
- Game Breaking Bug: In the collector's version, you can destroy the nose warhead launcher of a Star Destroyer. This reveals a hole that you can fly into and attack the capital ship from the inside without worry about being attacked. Some laser batteries from the Star Destroyer may still be able to hit you, but other enemy craft can't hit you.
- Hello, Insert Name Here
- Hey, It's That Voice!: the briefing officer is voiced by Lieutenant Gruber.
- High Altitude Battle: it doesn't get much higher than OUTER SPACE.
- Hold the Line
- Irrelevant Importance: A particularly annoying example where a pirate fighter can enter the hangar of a pirate cruiser and fail the mission because it's considered "escaped" even if the cruiser is destroyed afterwards.
- It's Up to You: Usually straight, but averted in the earliest missions - when the Rebels attack during your training, you're immediately ordered back to base. There's plenty of trained pilots about, no need to waste a rookie and his ship.
- Lord British Postulate: Except in a few rare cases, it is theoretically possible to destroy almost everything. And you get more points for doing so (and maybe a scolding) as long as the win conditions are met. Star Destroyers have a blind spot if you take out the one rear laser turret, and can be taken down with an unshielded craft.
- The Man Behind the Man: Not quite, but after defeating the last of Harkov's forces an even bigger traitor is revealed.
- Mook: partially subverted in that the player takes on the role of one of the Empire's random Mooks, at least early on in the game. The player even gets stuck in the ultimate Mookmobile, the bog-standard TIE Fighter.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Missile Boats.
- Mook Maker: just about any enemy capital ship, but they'll eventually run out.
- Multi Mook Melee
- Nitro Boost: The Missile Boat's "SLAM" drive, which makes it temporarily the fastest ship in the game... at the expense of your laser cannon's ammunition. As the Missile Boat has only a single laser cannon and usually carries 100+ missiles, this isn't really a problem. The TIE Defender on the other hand is the fastest without such.
- You can adjust which systems get how much power in any ship. If you redirect all power to the engines, you can make anything go ridiculously fast... though you won't have lasers, shields, or tractor beams.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Inverted, since this is essentially the "wicked campaign" counterpart to X-Wing.
- No Fair Cheating: As this game was much harder than the predecessor, there was a simple toggle in the in-flight menu to give you invulnerability and unlimited ammunition. However, this reduced your score by 90% if used at any point in the mission, making advancements and promotions difficult at best.
- "No Warping" Zone: Interdictors prevent ships from using the Hyperspace Escape, while having other ships destroy the intended targets. An allied interdictor is used across multiple missions to prevent enemy capital ships from escaping, while a few missions later, another interdictor prevents you from escaping.
- Old School Dogfighting
- One Game for the Price of Two: or three in this case, and you literally have to buy the same game again (in "Collector's CD Edition" form) if you bought the original release and want to see how the whole thing ends.
- One-Man Army: For the most part accidental just because your wingmen (and reinforcements, which you can call in in almost any mission) are pretty much useless, but there are true One Man Army missions as well. For example, when you've been using the TIE Advanced (fast, hyperdrive, shields, and concussion missiles) only to be assigned to show two wingmen how to clear a minefield... in an unshielded TIE Interceptor, with them watching from behind you... Gee, what's the worst that could happen?
- Hint: Destroying your wing men will not result in your commander complaining about friendly fire.
- Pass Through the Rings: training missions.
- Surprisingly fun training missions. Some people have spent hours running through the training course as a sort of odd racing (against the clock) game.
- Plot Armor: The original versions had invulnerable capital ships that needed to survive for a future mission. Thus, you can't kill Harkov's final Imperial Star Destroyer until a few missions pass.
- Protection Mission: In one mission, your wingmen are destroyed more quickly than the platform you're defending. When just one wingman is left, he asks how the two of us can stop all these ships.
- Revenue Enhancing Devices: Played up straight and ultimately is itself a result of revenue enhancing devices of the Star Wars merchandising empire.
- Script Breaking: it's possible to ensure that certain conditions to achieve Secondary Goals are never met due to actions performed within the mission.
- Ship Shape: Some abandoned containers lying around happen to be perfectly salvageable for building a space station (but it is space, after all, and they were only abandoned for a short while)
- Sprint Shoes: In a weird way, the Tractor Beam, since against anything but A-Wings and the more advanced TIEs it's kinda wasted, so most people shunt the energy that would go to it back into the engines.
- Even better: if the tractor beam wasn't mounted on your craft, that energy was not available to shunt into other systems. Apparently, the tractor beam carried its own power supply that could be fed into your craft at will. Makes you wonder why they didn't just leave our the beam generating part and added the power supply to your fighter in order to strengthen it. It would have been handy against the traitor craft.
- Ironic in the case of the Missile Boat/TIE Defender; the TIE Defender can actually mount the tractor beam in some missions (perhaps only in the Combat Simulator?), but the Tractor Beam is supposed to be part of the Missile Boat's basic in-universe tactic: catch a TIE Defender in a tractor beam and missile spam it to death.
- The technology was originally developed for the Advanced, so it's nothing like odd for it to have been implemented on the Defender a couple of times.
- Also, the Missile Boat has the SLAM system, which doubles your speed by consuming your stored laser energy. If you redirect all power to engines, you'll still be coasting above maximum speed for a while.
- Suicide Attack: Some capital ships are scripted to ram or block other capital ships. If they touch, both are instantly destroyed. This is explained by having one of the vessels contain "explosives" or some other dangerous cargo.
- The Paralyzer: In addition to Ion Beams that disable unshielded vessels, the Mag Pulse was introduced to temporarily disable weapon systems on a fully shielded craft.
- Theme Naming: Zahn started it with the Emperor's Hand. In addition to a Hand, you become an Emperor's Reach and an Emperor's Voice. You also become part of the Emperor's Sword fighter wing.
- Unwinnable By Mistake: The early version would sometimes carry over ship conditions from previous missions. If you managed to destroy a win condition ship from a previous battle, it would become impossible to finish the game. The Collector's CD fixed this in most cases (except the Falaricae, which was only a bonus goal later).
- Updated Rerelease: the "Collector's CD ROM Edition" defines this trope
- What the Hell, Player?: In one of the missions, if you're fairly clever, you can disable and destroy your own command ship, a small Corellian Corvette. If you succeed, though, the Imperial freaking Star Destroyer Badi Dea shows up and starts launching fighters. However, if you survive the retaliatory waves, and have not yet completed your mission goals, you'll only receive the mission failure debriefing by the officer and get to try again.
- Zerg Rush: Nope, not here. Despite the prequel saying otherwise, the Galactic Empire seems to have a TIE Fighter shortage and as such, has to deal with more powerful enemy craft outnumbering them.