Rebel terrorists, aided by
spies and traitors within the
Empire, struck a cowardly
blow at the new symbol of
Imperial power... The Death Star!
Darth Vader brought swift justice
to the Rebels by destroying their
main base on Hoth. The pitiful
remnants of the Alliance have
now scattered to the Outer Rim.
In the days ahead, the Emperor
will call upon the Imperial Navy
to eradicate the last vestiges
of rebellion and restore law
and order to the galaxy!
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 LucasArts 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 Stele (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" note which was an improved production version of Darth Vader's special TIE variant 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).note
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.
This game provides examples of:
- Ace Pilot: Initially you are not one, but as you progress through the game, you eventually become so well-respected throughout the Empire that Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader himself personally request your assistance. Even Imperial officers and the Secret Order will tell you how valuable you are to the Empire, you're really just that good.
- Antepiece: The missions just before the introduction to the Missile Boat pit you against entire squadrons of enemy TIE Defenders while you fly a sluggishly slow Assault Gunboat equipped with advanced missiles and the tractor beam, if you want to survive you must learn to manage your energy levels to keep up with the much faster enemy fighters and to maintain a tractor beam lock against the enemy craft, all which are essential skills for piloting the Missile Boat.
- Arbitrary Maximum Range: And a laughably short one at that (2.5 km for warheads, 5 km for turbolasers and other capital ship weapons, and roughly 1 km for lasers).
- 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 by how close you were to an enemy capital ship when shot down.
- Arrow Cam
- Artificial Stupidity: TIE Fighter actually has excellent AI as far as flight sims go, with one exception. At the end of Battle 7 (the final mission before the expansions) you're tasked with disabling an enemy shuttle for capture; destroying the shuttle results in mission failure. Unless you specifically order them to ignore the shuttle, your wingmen will destroy it. What's especially egregious about this behavior is that the shuttle in question HAS THE GODDAMN EMPEROR ABOARD IT!
- 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.
- Not maneuvering turns out to be the best way to avoid getting hit if your TIE fighter is being chased by an X-Wing. The way the weapons are placed and the AI targeting method causes them to make a quite alarming spray all around you.
- Batman Gambit: Thrawn's plan to trap Admiral Zaarin; knowing full well the latter's obsession with advanced technology, Thrawn sought to lure Zaarin out in the open once word of the Vorknkx Project and its new cloaking device got out to the traitorous admiral, defending the project to the last man in the many attempts Zaarin made to seize it for himself; Thrawn had seen firsthand what an advantage the device would be to either side, even with the knowledge that if used with an active hyperdrive would cause a catastrophic meltdown.
- Taking advantage of this, Thrawn ultimately allows Zaarin to make off with the corvette housing the device once the traitor has overcome Thrawn's defenses, and after boxing in his opponent watches as Zaarin makes a quick getaway aboard the stolen corvette, activating the device mid-jump as Thrawn had predicted and finally sealing his fate.
- Beam Spam: Nearly any hostile capital ship in the game will fill the screen with turbolaser fire if you get close enough to it. This can actually be used to your advantage if you shoot a friendly capital ship (thus making it target you) and use its firepower to take out nearby enemy ships.
- 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.
- Big Bad: It takes a while for the real villain, namely Admiral Zaarin, to be revealed, and even then the Rebellion remains the Greater-Scope Villain in the background. The latter is actually a somewhat odd choice, and surprisingly little time is spent fighting the Rebellion proper (only two of the thirteen Tours of Duty features them as the main adversary, four if you count Harkov's defection). Much more effort is spent in conflict with tearaway Imperial factions and neutral third parties than chasing the actual rebels the Empire fights in the movies. This presumably builds on the Emperor's line in Return of the Jedi that the rebellion is tiny and even "insignificant" (as well as other franchise materials to the same effect), with the greater part of the Imperial Navy devoted to other things.
- Bittersweet Ending: After finally offing the Big Bad that you've spent half the game chasing, you'll get a brief moment of satisfaction for destroying one of the greatest threats to Imperial security ever to have lived. Then your debriefing officer cheerily informs you that the Battle of Endor is currently taking place and they're just waiting to hear word of the Empire's inevitable victory.
- Boring, but Practical:
- While doing a bombing run, Luke Skywalker style, is super sexy, and promoted in-game; NOTHING beats 10-15 hits with an ion cannon after the shields are down. This leaves the Gun Boat and the TIE Defender as your two best anti-capital ship fighters, pretty much the whole campaign.
- Scanning enemy ships and cruisers is this. Often secret objectives are accomplished by simply scanning other craft, and can uncover a number of different developments. Sometimes you're tasked with destroying or capturing said craft for the Empire's use, whichever they feel is more suited to their needs.
- 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.
- Cavalry Betrayal: It's Zaarin's forces to the rescue! No wait, he's attacking us!
- Chase Fight: The second mission of Tour of Duty 7 is this. In the first mission the Interdictor Harpax managed to find Harkov's Star Destroyer, but a Nebulon B Frigate and a Rebel Calamari Cruiser quickly join in the fray as well. The second mission sees you trying to defend the slower Interdictor as it is fleeing from the Frigate and the Cruiser, both of which are faster than it and capable of destroying it if they get in range.
- Chasing Your Tail: Otherwise known as dogfights. Gamma-class Assault Transports and Escort Shuttles discourage this kind of behavior though as they feature rear-facing turrets.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: Admiral Harkov.
- Chekhov's Gun: Many of the high tech ships and weapons the player will use later in the game are first introduced in prototype form, either in cutscenes or in-game as unarmed prototypes the player must protect. Special mention goes to a few plot-relevant examples:
- Attrition from early battles causes Admiral Harkov to request replacement fighters in the form of TIE Advanceds, some of which the player escorts to Harkov's flagship. Two campaigns and a dozen or so missions later, Harkov has defected with his fleet, and those same fighters are considered such a threat that an entire mission is devoted to eliminating them.
- Early missions in Battle Six have the player escorting TIE Defender prototypes being tested by Grand Admiral Zaarin. In the expansion packs, these craft are shown to be more common among Zaarin's forces than the Empire's.
- Battle Eleven introduces the Vorknkx, a Corellian Corvette with an experimental cloaking device; a cutscene reveals a potentially fatal flaw in the technology - it can't be used while jumping to hyperspace. In the final mission Zaarin steals the corvette and is killed trying to jump to hyperspace while still cloaked.
- 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.
- This is Truth in Television, as well. Historically, authoritarian states have tended to have trouble preventing competent senior military commanders from trying to take over the state. (For this reason, most authoritarian states don't have competent senior military commanders, which brings on other problems.)
- 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 You"s: TIE Fighters have two laser cannons, no other weapons, no shields, no hyperdrive, and essentially two 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. However, it is toned down a lot in this version, being only lethal when a capital ship is involved.
- Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: More like end your mission - when Vader wants to leave NOW to rescue the Emperor, you better not dally getting back to your Star Destroyer when your objectives are complete.
- 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 superiority 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.
- Cosmetic Award: Your naval rank, status in the Secret Order, and the medals you've been awarded have absolutely no bearing on plot or gameplay.
- Cut Scene: The campaigns usually end, and/or begin with one. In the CD version, they are animated but with recorded voice acting.
- 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 character'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.
- Demoted to Extra: The entire Rebel Alliance becomes this in the expansions. The Defender of the Empire expansion has only a handful of rebel craft at all (and no campaigns against them) and the Enemies of the Empire final expansion features them in a single Tour of Duty completely unrelated to the rest of the game.
- Developers' Foresight: Averted with players who rely extensively on ion cannons. Especially druing the defections. Youd think the Empire would be giddy at the idea of recommissioning disabled Star Destroyers stolen by defectors, and iterrogating their surviving crew, but the mission objectives for destroying capital ships generally dont change if theyre disabled and there are no other enemies in the area.
- Doomed by Canon: You're flying for the Empire, and the Battle of Endor takes place pretty much at the exact same time as the final mission. Lampshaded in your final debriefing, when the officer brings up the fact that the Empire is about to enter into a new golden age thanks to the imminent destruction of the Rebellion.
- Easter Egg
- Enemy Chatter: Apparently no one's heard of "secure communications channels" in the Star Wars universe. Or the Empire's radio technology is just that much better than the Rebels'.
- Enemy Mine: You're tasked with ending a longstanding Civil War by assisting both sides. Eventually they decide to team up against you.
- 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: Standard use, whether to ensure ships reach hyperspace or at least ensure they don't get destroyed. In one case, you need to escort one vessel, only to discover that it was an enemy impersonating the real vessel.
- Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Your life when you're forced to fly the titular TIE Fighter. The TIE has little armor and no shields: two laser blasts from anyone sends you spinning off into the icy void. Leaving out enemy fire, you also have to worry about friendly fire, collisions (both from the enemy and your own side), as well as simple debris; more than once you will fall victim to the flaming wreckage of your target that decided to fly in your direction.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Missile Boat does indeed live up to its name.
- FaceHeel Turn: Harkov and his fleet, from the Empire's and the PC's perspective. He does make it quite clear that he has no ideological attachments and is just selling his services.
- Grand Admiral Zaarin pulls this later and far less ambiguously; as he goes warlord rather than joining the Rebellion.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Enforced in one mission in the expansion packs. The player is tasked with escorting a transport to recover cargo from a disabled ship. However, you find out after the mission is complete that the transport you escorted was an imposter sent by a pirate group. Should you use this newfound knowledge to retry the mission and disable/destroy the imposter vessel, you'll fail the mission (and the real transport will never show up).
- 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.
- 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.
- Feelies: "The Stele Chronicles", a sort of combined mini-guide and novella giving some backstory for the otherwise anonymous Imperial pilot protagonist.
- Friend or Foe: The earlier missions have rebels and pirates Colour-Coded for Your Convenience and are generally easy to tell apart. 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 on the radar (the same as your side). The targeting computer will generally show Z- or H- prefixed names to show that they are enemies, but you can't tell the ships apart should your targeting computer get disabled.
- 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.
- Z-95 Headhunters used by the Rebels and pirates, not particularly fast and with poor shields and hull; however when equipped with rockets they can easily bring down a capital ship.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Admiral Zaarin is this to Admiral Harkov, having taken advantage of the Empire's preoccupation with stopping the latter's defection to the Rebellion to launch his own plans for a coup d'etat against Emperor Palpatine. While Harkov's faction and his Rebel allies are eventually wiped out entirely, Zaarin leads an entire armada that proves to be a major headache for the Empire from that point on.
- Guide Dang It!: Many of the bonus missions are not made known to the player until s/he blows up, inspects, or protects the ship or thing in question. A usual rule of thumb is that, unless you need to leave now, you should protect all Imperial vessels, destroy all Rebel ones, and inspect them all.
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]
- High-Altitude Battle: it doesn't get much higher than OUTER SPACE.
- Hold the Line
- Insane Admiral: Admiral Zaarin, presented as the leader of a renegade cabal of officers attempting to assassinate the Emperor and seize power.
- Interface Spoiler: Objectives never change during a mission, meaning that any "surprise twists" that happen partway through a mission have to be accounted for in the objective list. Worse, players almost immediately get in the habit of checking the objective list as soon as a mission starts in order to figure out what they need to do to pass the mission. Accordingly, Zaarin's betrayal/ambush in the seventh tour of duty loses a bit of its punch, as attentive players will notice that their objectives include destroying the ships that are supposed to be reinforcing them.
- The Training Simulator and Combat Chamber both allow access to the TIE Advanced from the beginning of the game, long before it is introduced in the storyline, and later versions of the game do the same for the TIE Defender and the Missile Boat. Similarly, the player's training certificate has obvious spaces for all 7 flyable craft.
- The cockpit layouts of every craft in the game have spaces for all possible displays, with the panels plated over if a ship isn't currently equipped with a given item. This includes covered over displays for beam weapons, which aren't introduced until halfway through the game.
- Averted with two initially nonfunctional doors on the concourse screen. One, the largest door, is simply to allow players to return to their current campaign mission without having to re-select a battle. The other turns out to be entirely decorative.
- The appearance of the Secret Order envoy is spoiled (for all of a mission or two) by a closed door to the side chamber of the briefing room where he otherwise sits. Conversely, for a couple missions the normal briefing officer is not present, in at least one instance signalling that something unusual is going to take place in the coming mission.
- Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: Once a ships shields are down, ion cannons tend to outclass any other weapon. Pretty much all unshielded ships in the game become disabled with an absurdly low number of direct hits with the ion cannons. These can hit anywhere on a ship for the same effect. This will effectively leave them helpless, and out of action for the rest of the mission. Theres never a mechanic introduced to restore an enemy ships systems after theyre disabled. Compared to missiles, ion bolts cant be shot down. With lasers, it can take an absurd number of hits to finally get the hull down to 0. A player can have all the enemys capital ships disabled early in a mission, and clear out the fighters. Afterwords, the end of each mission is a simple matter of destroying the disabled ships to satisfy any outlying objectives. This turns into a headscratcher when you realize a ship built around taking out a capital ships shields and then blasting it with ion cannons would be a far more effective than sending in actual bombers.
- 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.
- Since when and how to accomplish each objective is largely up to the player, this can lead to situations where a mission's objectives, as far as the story is concerned, have been accomplished, but the mission remains incomplete due to some now irrelevant objective. For example, a mission to destroy a space station may list "destroy all mines around the station"note as another objective. This will remain even if the station is destroyed.
- 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.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: The TIE Advance/TIE Avenger. The TIE Defender takes this to Game Breaking levels.
- Last Ditch Move: Type C mines fire off a concussion missile (or, if you're really unlucky, an advanced concussion missile) at the ship that destroyed them.
- Lensman Arms Race: A variation of this occurs towards the end of the game. The Empire has just built the more durable TIE Defender to deal with Rebel starfighters. Then Grand Admiral Zaarin steals a few dozen TIE Defenders and stages a coup. Thus the Empire is, from a certain point of view, in an arms race with itself. They counter the TIE Defender with the Missile Boat, a starfighter loaded with as many warheads as it can carry.
- 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. During the eighth campaign (which requires an expansion pack or the collector's edition), you receive the Missile Boat.
- Locked Out of the Loop: The twelfth campaign is focused on recovering stolen intelligence concerning the second Death Star from Bothan spies before they pass it to the Rebellion, however most of the missions' objectives deal with learning what info was stolen rather than actually recovering it; only the Emperor's Cloaked Representative advises you to stick to your objectives and hints you that there's more at work. Later your flight officer comes clean and explains to you that the Emperor himself had leaked that information in order to lure the Rebels into a trap.
- 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: An unusual variation, 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. Then increasingly subverted, as the PC is promoted and gets to fly rarer and more impressive fighters.
- Macross Missile Massacre:
- Missile Boats, which can pack up to 80 warheads of various types, at least half of which will be the extremely lethal advanced concussion missiles.
- Warships and space stations have a tendency to launch missiles of their own when attacked, making destroying their warhead launchers a top priority for the player.
- Marathon Level: TIE Defender training mission #1, Custom Dogfight. While the primary objective is easy (only four kills), completing the bonus objective require destroying all 225 crafts (there's 25 ships in 9 waves.) You need to sustain four kills per minute to complete the bonus objectives within one hour, taking proportionally longer if you have a slower kill rate.
- Master of All: The TIE Defender. The only ship that came before it that can do SOMETHING better is the TIE Bomber, possessing the ability to carry more ordnance; but the TIE Defender is still respectable in that area, and it's greater speed and shields means it can still do the TIE Bomber's job better than it can.
- Master of None: The TIE Avenger, though in the lore rather than the gameplay, where it's pretty decent. In its case, it was considered to be not as cost-effective as the standard TIE, and not as all-around amazing as the Defender, resulting in something that was neither particularly good at ace combat nor at swarming the opponent.
- Mêlée à Trois: The Empire, Zaarin and the Rebels in later parts of the game. Also add some Space Pirates for flavor.
- Mook Maker: just about any enemy capital ship, but they'll eventually run out.
- Mother Ship: As noted above, most of the capital ships are capable of launching and recovering fighters. One is guaranteed to be present if the craft the player is flying lacks a hyperdrive, as they will have to return to said ship at the end of the mission.
- Mighty Glacier: Assault Gunboats have powerful weapons in the fore and out the rear, but are slow to accelerate and turn like molasses.
- Name's the Same: The TIE Advanced in this game shares its name with the distinctly different ship that Darth Vader flies. To avoid confusion, the former is frequently referred to as the TIE Avenger, and the latter as the TIE Advanced X1.
- 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.
- 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.
- Not So Above It All: The briefing officer and Secret Order envoy generally have neutral expressions when briefing or debriefing the player, but will smilenote when reporting your kills or captures...
- Not So Invincible After All: The TIE Defender once the Missile Boat is introduced; but even before that, despite their speed and maneuverability, the Defenders have a relatively large hitbox, meaning that a moderately skilled pilot can take them out with just lasers relatively easily.
- Not So Stoic: ...Or be visibly upset when reporting Imperial losses.
- 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.
- Oh, Crap!: By your fellow comrades immediately after you destroy Harkov's flagship when Zaarin's reinforcements arrive only to open fire on your command ship.
- Imperial Officer: The treachery is worse than we imagined!
- Old School Dogfight
- 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. The developers tried to mitigate this with a discount coupon for the Collector's CD Edition included in the base TIE Fighter game.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: The basic TIE Fighter is almost one. Usually they can survive one, sometimes two laser hits. Surviving a missile hit? Hahahaha. No.
- 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 the stock message identifying friendly fire.
- The Empire certainly seems to use you as one in the later campaigns, particularly when you're flying the TIE Defender or the Missile Boat. Most of your missions at this stage see you either as the sole line of defense for a vulnerable target or executing complex and difficult strike missions that would normally be assigned to multiple units. This is especially true of levels involving the Missile Boat, as its multiple high capacity warhead launchers allow it to be its own escort, equally capable of picking off defending fighters and destroying large, heavily shielded targets in the same mission.
- Only in It for the Money: Harkov had no love for Rebel ideals but they paid him a generous sum so over he went.
- Outranking Your Job: Since promotions within both the Imperial Navy and Secret Order ranks are Cosmetic Awards with no bearing on plot or gameplay, this trope can be inverted, averted, or played straight depending on the player's skill and the mission details. Early on, it is possible to be a lowly Flight Officer in direct command of half a dozen fighters (and able to order even more powerful reinforcements into the area); later missions may see the player as a General, yet flying solo missions or seemingly run-of-the-mill patrols.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: The TIE Advanced, which was introduced as the most powerful Imperial starfighter, being the first TIE starfighter with shields and hyperdrive. But not long after its introduction, it gets outmatched by the TIE Defender and the Missile Boat.
- This even extends into Star Wars Legends; the Defender occasionally pops up but the Advanced hardly ever appears and is only mentioned in visual encyclopedias.
- The Paralyzer: Several variations.
- Ion cannons that disable unshielded vessels.
- Mag Pulse warheads were introduced to temporarily disable weapon systems on a fully shielded craft.
- Two flavors of beam weapons:
- Tractor beams, which lock targeted ships onto their current heading, preventing them from evading incoming fire.
- Jamming beams, which prevent targeted ships from firing on the player.
- Pass Through the Rings: 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.
- Prepare to Die: Done several times by the Empire in all its usual glory, most notably when Darth Vader executes the traitorous Admiral Harkov in his usual fashion.Darth Vader: Now you shall pay for your treachery! [force crush]
- 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.
- Punny Name:
- Destroying the ships you are supposed to be escorting can cause Star Destroyer Badi Dea to warp in and launch endless waves of fighters at you.
- Harkov makes his final escape attempt on a Corellian transport named Geddawai.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Shades of this if you play the tours of duty in order. At the end of Battle III, you are helping ferry over the new TIE Advanced to Admiral Harkov's VSD Protector, and your flight officer even says to go brush up on your TIE Advanced piloting in the simulator, but then you uncover evidence that Harkov is working with the Rebellion (by scanning a shuttle heading to the Protector and finding it is carrying a Rebel officer), and Harkov tells you that your curiosity may be your undoing. The next two battles see you sent off to establish a new base and fight pirates in remote sectors.
- Revenue-Enhancing Devices: Played up straight and ultimately is itself a result of revenue enhancing devices of the Star Wars merchandising empire.
- Rooting for the Empire: Apparently invoked in the literal sense but it comes out more as a subversion since this is among the first Star Wars high-profile works to avert Black and White Morality.
- Royal Cruiser: One mission involves intercepting Zaarin's forces as they attempt to destroy the Emperor's personal liner, the Excalibur, as he's travelling to the second Death Star.
- Sacrificial Lion: Some instances of this are present; a notable one is the Interdictor Harpax, which is tasked with luring Harkov's forces and their Rebel allies out into the open. The subsequent Imperial assault led by Vader makes quick work of the traitors as they planned, just as the Harpax was being savaged by repeated assaults. While it is possible to save it, official sources confirm that the Harpax didn't survive the engagement.
- Scare Chord: The game's opening theme ends with one, in all its Imperial glory. Another comes when Admiral Zaarin is killed by his own hand while escaping the scene in his final battle with Thrawn.
- Schmuck Bait:
- The second-to-last level in the game (pre-expansions) has Darth Vader join a flight group of which you are the leader. Your flight officer warns you during the briefing- in these exact words: "do not issue any in-flight orders to the Dark Lord."
- In an earlier campaign, your commanding officer assigns you to clear a minefield. In an unshielded craft. Solo, while your wingmen sit back and observe. (It's a trap.)
- Script Breaking: it's possible to ensure that certain conditions to achieve Secondary Goals are never met due to actions performed within the mission.
- Sequel Difficulty Drop: The game is a great deal easier than its Nintendo Hard predecessor.
- The Siege: The first half of Tour of Duty 7 is pretty much as close to this as you can get in space. An Interdictor manages to catch Harkov's Star Destroyer, only for it to be swiftly reinforced by a Rebel Mon Calamari Cruiser and a traitorous Imperial Nebulon Frigate. Note that the Interdictor against any one of those would be a challenge. The player has to lead a breakout to destroy some of the ships and fighters, including the Frigate, while waiting for help to arrive.
- 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)
- Shoot the Bullet: Warheads can be shot down using laser cannons (or, if you're talented and feel like wasting valuable ammo, faster warheads). This is a common defence against enemies who lock onto you. Significantly harder, however, is shooting down a warhead heading for something else. The game, of course, forces you to do this in one Escort Mission where T-wings launch heavy rockets at a mission sensitive ship mere seconds after you start the mission (and letting even a single one through is more or less an automatic failed mission).
- Shout-Out: There's a lot, overlapping with Meaningful Name - probably at least a third of the ships have names referencing something else.
- The Dimok and Ripoblus forces fought during the second tour of duty are believed to be shout-outs to the Democrats and Republicans respectively.
- Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: The imperial vessels start with the simple TIE Fighter, which is less effective than the TIE Interceptor (having two laser cannons instead of four, and is slower and less maneuverable), and in turn less powerful than TIE Avenger (which has shields). Likewise, TIE Bomber is a weaker version of the Assault Gunboat (the latter having shields and ion cannons to disable targets). In the later campaigns, they're outperformed yet again by both the TIE Defender and Missile Boat, the latter being able to move at high speeds and destroy capital ships with the weapon payload alone, while still dominating enemy fighters.
- 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.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The player character is Maarek Stele. His last name is subject to several misspellings amongst the fans (Steele being the most common).
- 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.
- Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Everything from numerous fighter types to freighters to frigates, cruisers and star destroyers.
- The Starscream: Grand Admiral Zaarin.
- 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.
- 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.
- Too Awesome to Use: The missile boat was an in-universe version. After Zaarin was dealt with, the remaining missile boats were mothballed and placed into storage, as they were considered too powerful to see mass deployment (the consequences of even one being captured or stolen by a traitor would be disastrous, as it could take on entire fleets by itself).
- Too Dumb to Live: Harkov is a shining example of this. His tactical decisions include assuming that two TIE Interceptors is enough to kill off an ace pilot flying a TIE Interceptor himself (when, really, he could have saved himself a lot of trouble by sabotaging Stele's ship, or even just shooting him in his quarters), announcing his orders to kill said pilot over an open communications channel, thereby ruining any element of surprise they may have had (although Maarek already suspected the mission was a trap to begin with), abandoning his mobile and far-better armed Star Destroyer for a stationary platform while the Empire is in hot pursuit, and naming his getaway ship the Geddawai and hoping the Empire wouldn't notice.
- Captain Kuuztin of the Star Destroyer Courageous is another example, having led a daring assault on one of Zaarin's staging grounds in which Stele and his allies utterly devastate a large part of Zaarin's fleet....only for the Courageous to find itself at the mercy of two Star Destroyers commanded by Zaarin. The post-mission briefing confirms that Kuuztin and his crew did not live to tell the tale.
- Finally there is the captain of the Interdictor Red Claw, ferrying the most preeminent mind of the TIE Defender program only for its hyperdrive to be grievously damaged during a battle with pirate forces. While awaiting reinforcements, a single Imperial corvette arrived to evacuate the scientist, its sister ship carrying the replacement hyperdrive having been "delayed". The corvette escapes into hyperspace, and is only afterwards revealed to be a pirate-operated impostor when the two corvettes ferrying the replacement parts arrive moments later. Although the interdictor survives, the inability of the ship's captain to see through the ruse, thus allowing the TIE Defender technology to fall into enemy hands means that he will almost certainly suffer a horrible fate at Vader's hands.
- Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: The Vorknkx, a Corellian Corvette carrying an experimental cloaking device noted for being extremely unstable when used in conjunction with a hyperspace engine. That doesn't stop Zaarin from attempting to use it as a getaway ship. It eventually blows up with him onboard.
- The Missile Boat is repeatedly described in briefings as "experimental", and it is likewise noted that it would not have been sent into combat so quickly if not for Zaarin and his numerous TIE Advanceds and Defenders. In your earliest missions with it, the TIE Defender is similarly described as still in testing and only aboard the Garrett for operational trials. Neither craft has any of the flaws or bugs sometimes implied by this trope, however.
- 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 Re-release: the "Collector's CD ROM Edition" defines this trope. The game received two updated releases, one with upgraded SVGA graphics (Collector's CD-ROM Edition '95) and a second one (Tie Fighter '98) retrofited and ported to the engine of X Wing Vs Tie Fighter. A fanmade total conversion for X-Wing Alliance also exists.
- Uriah Gambit: One mission requires you to clear a minefield with an unshielded craft, for no good reason. The mission is actually a trap orchestrated by a defecting imperial officer.
- Variable Mix: Like X-Wing before it, the game features the iMuse music engine (unfortunately this was lost on the Tie Fighter '98 Edition); however it offers more variety for soundtrack changes depending on the gameplay, like a triumphant music whenever you are doing particularly well on a mission, and an ominous theme whenever you're approaching an enemy capital ship.
- With This Herring: One of the missions in Battle III has you protecting a newly established space station from Rebel and pirate fighters in a TIE Bomber. The flight officer specifically says that the TIE Bomber was not designed for this kind of role, and upon completion of the mission he conveys Vice Admiral Thrawn's compliments for being able to pull off a victory despite this fact.
- What the Hell, Player?:
- In the first training mission, destroying the training platform causes a revenge wave of imperial Gunboats and TIE Advanced. However, that platform is invincible, leaving the revenge wave Dummied Out.
- In some of the missions (such as TIE Fighter Combat Mission 3 and 4), you can disable and destroy your own command ship, a small Corellian Corvette. If you succeed, the Imperial Star Destroyer Punisher shows up. If you attack that, it will launch its fighters to attack you. If you survive the retaliatory waves, and have not yet completed your mission goals, you'll only receive the generic mission failure debriefing by the officer and get to try again.
- If you can out last the game's cheating ass, you can shoot down Darth Vader. You also get reprimanded if Darth Vader is killed while on a command ship that you are also supposed to defend. However, it's a non-issue since you completed all other objectives and he's around on later missions as well.
- You Have Failed Me:
- Happens in the Feelies when one of Harkov's lieutenants fails to kill Maarek Stele, bringing the Empire down on their heads. He is shot for his trouble.
- Mentioned to have happened off-screen, courtesy of Darth Vader, to the unfortunate captain of a Star Destroyer in the aforementioned mission on Failure Is the Only Option for falling into the trap; your flight officer mentions that your piloting skills in protecting the destroyer from the ambush spared you from Vader's wrath.
- You Rebel Scum!: This phrase, or variants thereof, are often said by wingmen.
- 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.