Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
If the answer to the headline question is ‘no’, for many years your only way to change it was either car boot sales or wanton piracy. That changed yesterday, when GoG finally secured what is surely the ur-GoG deal: republishing a spread of 90s LucasArts PC games. Among them was TIE Fighter, the space combat sim that – extremely ambitiously at the time – placed you inside the helmet of a Star Wars baddie.
TIE Fighter shows its age, of course. It seems sparse and slow, and there’s some dynamism lacking in its mission structures. It retains something special, though – primarily a clean simpliclity of UI that screams Star Wars, and with it galactic heroism/villainy, rather than utility or even videogaminess. I guess I’m trying to say that TIE Fighter is beautiful in its old age.
It’s also important to try and see this through the lens of the time: Star Wars hadn’t yet made its grand late-90s comeback, hadn’t yet converted from fondly-remembered childhood film into a near-religion for a generation of young men and women. TIE Fighter was simply, and boldly, exploring the gaps rather than expanding the margins, working with what already existed and seeing how it felt to be a baddie in one of those funny sweetie-shaped baddie ships we remembered.
I miss that. I miss living in an age where the entertainment that seemed to speak to us wasn’t so easy to lay hands on that it robbed all preciousness from it. I miss living in an age where the very idea of TIE Fighter was astounding, rather than just one more withered berry plucked from the exhausted Lucas tree.