The first few campaigns of TIE fighter see you carrying out the sort of missions you’d expect for an Imperial pilot. You chase rebels in the aftermath of Hoth, destroy pirate outposts, and forcibly end conflicts between warring planets. Bringing a bit of peace and order to the galaxy, Galactic Empire style.

The first mission of campaign five, however, feels a bit wrong from the start. The officer who normally gives you the mission briefing is absent, leaving just a message board to inform you of your objective: to clear a minefield and inspect some cargo containers.

The secretive agent from the Order of the Emperor is present, though. Normally he hands out special secondary objectives, usually something precise and tricky like finding and disabling an individual shuttle in the middle of a battle. Accomplishing his tasks grants you membership of the Order. Today though he just tells you to watch out. He has reason to believe that you are in danger.

Turns out he was well informed. Soon after the mission begins, your wingman breaks formation and starts firing on you! The betrayal isn’t limited to a single TIE though as further imperial fighters are launched to attack you. If you get close to your base frigate, that will shoot at you too. All the ships around you, that would normally represent safety and support, are suddenly hostile. It’s all a bit shocking and bewildering.

Thank you

Your first priority is survival. Your TIE interceptor is fast, which can help you get out of trouble, but it’s basically made of plywood. If you’re hit by laser fire, there’s a sickening crunching noise to accompany the knowledge that you can only survive one or two more hits. Worse, the traitors have sent the deadly advanced TIEs armed with concussion missiles. When you hear the missile warning it’s a moment of sheer panic, throwing your interceptor into desperate evasive manoeuvres, because those will destroy you with a single hit.

There’s still that minefield to worry about too. In this game a mine isn’t just an exploding thing you might collide with; instead each is a gun turret. Ordinarily the threat they pose is mitigated by their inability to move. However, straying into their firing range while simultaneously dealing with enemy fighters can be intensely dangerous.

You’re alone in your flimsy TIE, and and waves of enemies are coming your way. Everything has gone to hell. The Order guy said to shout for help if you need. So do it! They send their own frigate, which launches its own fighters to tackle the traitors, and its arrival is a blessed relief. Who would have thought that sinister looking fellow would be your salvation?

That doesn’t mean you can run straight for safety, though. The Order needs you to inspect those containers for their own purposes, which is going to mean heading back into the minefield. There’s a suspicious shuttle they want you to look at too. All the while, the traitors continue to chase you. Only once this task is done can you sprint to the friendly frigate.

Looking back, TIE Fighter did lean heavily on themes of traitors and civil war quite heavily. It seems like it didn’t quite have the will to commit to a game where you play the bad guys and kill rebels. Still this mission remains memorable as one of the great “oh, shit!” moments in gaming