Space… the final frontier, and like any untamed wilderness there are always struggles and conflicts for the resources and strategic advantages they might offer. While the physics, tactics, and possibilities offered by all out space-combat might go under utilised and appreciated in modern media, there’s one thing we can do in film, TV, and games, and that’s make it look epic!
Though the loss of life may be tremendous, and the horrors of war are made even more heartbreaking when the fallen are cast adrift in the endless dark… but damn it looks pretty! Here’s the Top 10 Space Battles.
10) Gratuitous – Gratuitous Space Battles
Have you ever watched a film or TV series and found yourself thinking that there was too much story to justify the existence of the fights, then boy oh boy do I have the game for you. Choose your faction, build a ship by adding guns and whatnot to a shell, assemble your force and LET IT RIP!! From that point on it’s out of your hands. You can rebuild your creations as often as you like, adjust the distribution of your fleet in the deployment zone, but after that you leave it to your crew to use what you’ve given them.
If anything the story behind the factions is incidental, interesting, worth a read, ultimately pointless. It’s in the name people, gratuitous. There’s some fluff text in the radio chatter which is actually fairly entertaining if you’re not wholly captivated by the storm of rockets and shimmery light show of lasers and failing shields.
9) Romulan War – Star Trek
It is an era of enlightenment amongst humanity, and we have stretched our hands into the stars in an effort to reach as many of the sentient races as possible, forge alliances and expand our understanding of life through the eyes of others. Sadly our efforts have fallen short in a few rather noteworthy instances, inevitable conflict with the Klingons, the impossible ultimatum of the Borg, and of course, the Romulans.
In truth, we see very little of the actual conflicts between the Federation forces and the off-shoot of the Vulcan species during earlier series, simply because it’s a part of history, but those old wounds do not heal, and the Neutral Zone is one of the most military operations run by the Federation, a wide and empty region of the galaxy beyond which lie the Romulans. The Neutral Zone inspires a lot of tension when the matter is raised, because any violation of that territory risks plunging humanity and her allies back into a war that devastated us all.
8) Alien Attack – Galaxy Quest
Galaxy Quest, featuring Tim Allen and Alan Rickman… I mean, those two names alone should sell you to Galaxy Quest, but if not, the whole cast is fantastic. Taking a more comedic approach to the sci-fi genre, Galaxy Quest takes Tim Allen and friends away from their real life duties to go on a galaxy quest of sorts. They didn’t believe it was all real, until they were right there in space. Comedy sci-fi greatness in film format.
The animation in this is what sells it. It’s so corny, so cheesy, that it just makes it all the more grand. It celebrates sci-fi in a way that few other films can. It makes fun of it, without being insulting. When aliens attack, they have to work extra hard to deal with them. It’s all the harder when you don’t have a clue what you’re doing in a space battle.
7) Battle of A Baoa Qu – Mobile Suit Gundam
What happens when you send hundreds upon hundreds of robots into space to go and attack a space fortress? You get an epic battle of serious consequence, that’s what. Gundam is well known for it’s very flashy fighting scenes, but the pure destruction during A Baoa Qu is simply fantastic. There’s also the matter of betrayal and in-fighting, as well as the constant blasts that are going on out there in space.
Overall, this whole scenario was a big set up to have robots fighting it out in space. It’s not a particularly special space fight, but it’s a highly destructive one, which ultimately leads to the demise of a space fortress… And who doesn’t love a bit of destruction in their space battles?
6) Hunt for Scar – Battlestar Galactica
While the remnants of humanity stop to gather resources in a defensible corner of the galaxy, the Cylon war-machine sent swarms of raiders down upon the heads of the Galactica forces. Now raiders, like the “skin-jobs” resurrect when slain, every memory of every conflict downloaded into a fresh body, bringing experience and knowledge, and in the case of Scar a grudge.
Scar is a self-explanatory nickname, but the raider has a cruel habit of lying in ambush while his brothers goad Viper jockeys into ideal positions within the system’s asteroid field. While Scar’s onslaughts may not be a single battle, they’re a memorable chapter in the ongoing hostilities, in which we learn some haunting things about the beastial cylon raiders.
5) Final Battle – Enders Game
Simulations have come a long way, which is brilliant. Now I can go and learn to become a surgeon in Surgeon Simulator and I can learn how to Board Game in Tabletop Simulator. I can learn how to put Ikea furniture together in Home Improvisation and much more. Ultimately, simulations are a brilliant part of every day gaming now and as such, if I were one of the kids in Enders Game, I too would revel in the excitement that is a space fight simulation. Except, there’s something far more tragic going on here. These children don’t know the sad, horrible truth about what they’re about to do.
This supposed simulation isn’t a simulation at all. These kids are being used, being made to kill millions. They believe this is just another simulation, but in actuality, they’ve just caused a massive wave of destruction. All of the damage they’ve caused, but they don’t even realise it… Not until it’s all far too late to take it all back. Next time you’re there playing Bear Simulator, I want you to have a very serious thought about what you’re doing. You could be affecting the life of a real bear somewhere out there in the woods. I bet you never thought you’d read this serious warning from us on a Top 10, right?
4) Battle of Proxima III – Babylon 5
When diplomatic station Babylon 5 secedes from the Earth Alliance, they become the power centre for military operations to liberate Earth and its people. With the aid of alien allies and other rebel cruisers, John Sheridan takes the fight to the colonies, but this is no mere shooting match. Throughout the exchange of fire, Sheridan and the other rogue commanders appeal to the loyal forces barricading the colonies.
Though the fights the skies above Mars and the final assault on Earth are tremendous, it’s far more intense watching the stand-off on the Heracles as Captain Hall is relieved of his command, and the Earth Loyal forces turning on those who are swayed by the truth of Clark’s presidency of deceit and fear-mongering. Proxima III demonstrates clearly how wars are as often won by words as with the application of force.
3) Serenity Valley – Firefly
This could go no higher as the majority of the conflict in the Unification Wars takes place on the ground, but the huge gun batteries in Serenity Valley are shockingly effective at bringing space-faring vessels down to their level. The final battle would leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many who had fought and died for the sovereignty and rights of colonies not to abide by the governance of the planets at the centre of the human ‘verse.
It’s formative in the stories of the Firefly class transport named Serenity, Zoe and Mal’s war stories, and the terrible changes made to River’s life, and how it brings them all together, not to mention whatever Book was.
And the battle that begins it all, that sets our grim scene, whose name we bear as a constant reminder; it may have been lost, but I don’t care, I’m still free…
2) Scarif – Rogue One
Ok, we had a lot to choose from here. These are the Star Wars, plural! So a quick run-down of what omitted some of the bigger battles we could have picked like the destruction of the Death Star, the Battle of Naboo, the Battle of Hoth… I’ll be honest, it was the Hammerhead Corvette.
It may seem a little narrow to pin the whole of Star Wars on the actions of one ship, but in many ways it’s emblematic of the rebellion as a whole. The desperate actions of a small unified force against an uncaring dominator, the Corvette wedges itself into the side of a weakened destroyer, forcing its flaming remains into another. It’s a reckless, sacrificial move that risks much for tremendous reward. The stakes are too high not to throw all available force into the fray.
Other major highlights include the deploying of a swarm of tie-fighters, a single moment that greatly emphasises the scale of the Empire’s forces, the sheer power of AT-AT’s made suddenly clear against the ground forces, and of course the final assault by Vader that made the climactic moments of Rogue One a more tangible part of Star Wars history, and cast the rest of the series in a very different light.
1) Bloodbath of B-R5RB – EVE Online
Our number one slot is taken by a video game, which is a little bit strange when you think about the whole premise behind space battles. Sci-Fi has come a long way since the early days; allowing us to actually interact with scenes that we could only imagine. However when you get a mass collection of people together in a massively-multiplayer universe, you can create some of the most truly awe-inspiring moments in gaming. This is the Bloodbath of B-R5RB, one of the biggest ever collective efforts by gamers on the internet. In fact, this might be the biggest ever battle in an MMO.
What makes this so special is the pure carnage that happened along with the aftermath. Destroyed titans were left behind and the debris was just left once the insane damage was over with. In game damages of several trillion were made and this was equal to about $300,000 in real currency. Imagine for a second, what other game, what other space battle, could actually lead to such destruction, such chaos, that potentially the real life would have had to have paid for the damages. Needless to say, most people spent in game money, but picture all those people spending real money to repair up. That’s the real issue with space battles: They’re epic, they’re amazing to watch… But picture the financial burden that they’d cost in the real world. Not a pleasant thought to leave this list on, but this is the harsh reality.
Remember the fallen, those who answered destiny’s call and didn’t come home. Some will be remembered in glory, but here we mark those who go into the great dark alone. They shall not be forgotten.
The Rebel Flagship – FTL
If you’re like me, you’ve still never beaten FTL, even though you seemingly get very good against all of the ships you face against until you face the Rebel Flagship. Much, much bigger than any ship you’ve seen before, with way more rooms than any other ship and all the weapons. Good grief, there’s a lot of weapons. Don’t even think about killing the ships people off, because that just sends it into auto mode, which is even more dangerous than the manned mode that you start out against.
Only managing to get into our honourable mentions list as ultimately this is a one on one space battle. It’s pretty cool overall, but it is just one ship vs the big, powerful ship. It’s highly exciting and hugely strategic. If you’ve somehow never played FTL, go pick it up and give it ago. It’s possibly one of the best space games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. If you’ve never even seen it, check out this (rather old) review of ours.
Battles With Omicron Persei – Futurama
If you don’t know about Omicron Persei, this is a planet in Futurama which is home to the Omicronians, with their famous leader Lrrr at the helm (pictured above). These are a sentient alien race who are a warmongering species. They often invade Earth, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they just have nothing better to do, sometimes Lrrr is frustrated at knowing what’s going on in a Human Sitcom. No matter what, the Omicronians are a dangerous species who are willing to attack Earth, sometimes completely unprovoked.
There’s little else to say about this one, except they’ve been a staple of Futurama for a very long time. There’s no doubt we’ll see many more Omicronian attacks on Earth.
War. War never changes… but sometimes it does. It never ends… unlike our list of battles, now those battles definitely end. You may win in some battles, but it doesn’t mean you’ve won the war. I’m not sure how many more platitudes I can cram in here, but we’re going to lay down our arms and sign a peace treaty for a change. In the meantime, why not fight it out to nominate next week’s geeky Top 10?
History is written by the victor, but should our history be revised? What brutal conflicts did we omit from the records? Who should have won? Cry havoc in the comments down below, or on our Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.