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 LucasArts 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).*
It's implied in-game that the main limitation on starfighters is cost, with the Defender being staggeringly expensive, and the Missile Boat—designed particularly to hunt and kill TIE Defenders—being even more staggeringly, obscenely expensive. Unfortunately, Truth in Television: Often in wars the cheapest weapon is the most common even if better ones are available.
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 LucasArts 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.
This game provides examples of:
Armored Coffins: Averted. Even the unshielded fighters have reliable ejection systems. They can be damaged like any other system but its likely that you will be outright destroyed, and eject automatically, before this happens.
Whether or not the player is merely returned to the Star Destroyer or captured by enemy forces is determined at random, however.
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.
Burial In Space: A ceremony for the deceased player is held and the casket is disposed of this way.
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. Justified in that Zaarin was heavily involved in improving the TIE series and was looking for ways to keep his depleted forces alive.
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.
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, the strongest in fact, 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, making faster than even the TIE Defender, 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 that was based on Darth Vader's personal prototype. Of course, a short time later the Defender and Missile Boat show up, making everyone forget about the poor Advance.
Cut Scene 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.
Deflector Shields: The main advantage the Rebel fighters have over the Imperial basic ones —the only spacecrafts that lack a shield— until Gunboats and Tie Advanceds/Defenders appear. Regenerating Shield, Static Health variety and an important element of the energy management gameplay once you are given shielded crafts.
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.
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.
Faster-than-Light Travel: Vessels enter and exit the combat zone via hyperspace jumps. Unlike more advanced ships, the basic TIE crafts lack a hyperdrive so they must return to some kind of Mother Ship to conclude their mission.
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.
Fragile Speedster: TIE Fighters and TIE Interceptors are small, maneuverable ships, meant to be more agile than the comparable X-Wing. However, it is outclassed by the rebel's A-Wing which is shielded and just as maneuverable, and the empire's later developments for the TIE Advanced, TIE Defender, and Missile Boat.
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 would only hit the destroyer if they open fire.
Glass Cannon: TIE Bombers. They actually had strong hulls but a lack of shields meant that were prone to losing systems or being easily destroyed by missiles or even torpedoes because of how sluggish they were. Their rockets and bombs however meant that if they survived even a single attack run would see the loss of all but the biggest capital ships.
The T-Wing, used mostly by pirates, was similar in that it had poor shields and hull strength but a high missile capacity. However it was also nearly as fast as an A-Wing which meant that sometimes a player's only chance to complete an Escort Mission was to take down the missiles in mid flight.
Invisibility Cloak: Cutscene use only. It is one of the projects being researched, although Admiral Zaarin does steal the device.
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.
Lightning Bruiser: TIE Advanced, which has a strong shield, is highly maneuverable and is fast. In the seventh campaign, you obtain the TIE Defender which is even more powerful. After the seventh, you receive the Missile Boat.
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 Mook Mobile, the bog-standard TIE Fighter.
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.
Also, craft equipped with beam weapons (tractor beam, targeting jammer) don't have any kind of speed or maneuverability penalty over their non beam equipped counterparts, meaning you can simply shunt all power from the beam recharge to the engines and use it as a makeshift speed upgrade. Since the TIE Defender and Missile Boat almost always have a beam equipped, you can easily make these already fast craft faster still. The extra energy also means you keep your lasers recharged without the usual loss of speed, and of course, you can keep the SLAM operating for significantly longer.
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.
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.
Serial Escalation: TIE Advanced was considered the most powerful imperial fighter. They then released the TIE Defender (faster, tougher, and has ion cannons), and the missile boat (carries enough ordinance to wax multiple capital ships). However, these two ships were scrapped and/or mothballed in the final missions.
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)
Space Mines: They use lasers as introduced in X Wing, but also have ion cannon and warhead variants. One mission also requires you to clear a minefield in an unshielded craft.
Space Pirates: They mostly use outdated ships compared to the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.
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.
When this particular feature was carried over to X-wing Versus TIE Fighter, carrying beams quickly became a popular form of Griefing in multiplayer, since most players loaded them entirely to take advantage of the power boost.
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).
Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The player is a star fighter pilot in service to the Empire, which is presented as the guardian of order, and the Rebels are portrayed as terrorists (though Vader still scares everyone and you don't actually fight Rebels that much). In fact, most of the early missions consist of legitimate work like scanning freighters for contraband and defending military installations from attack. The Opening Scroll and cutscenes in TIE Fighter specifically refer to "Rebel terrorists" and "Rebel insurgents."
All of the Star Wars flight sims, and their companion comics and novels, play with this trope in regard to capital ship names. Those stories told from the Rebel perspective are likely to include Alliance ships named after ideals - "Independence," "Liberty," "Freedom" - while enemy ships have names with definite negative connotations - "Inquisitor," for example, or even "Eviscerator." If, however, the protagonists fly for the Empire, suddenly all the Star Destroyers have names like "Protector" or "Stalwart", while the ships of their Rebel opponents have non-evocative names.
Zerg Rush: Nope, not here. Despite X-Wing 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.