TIE Fighter still holds up as the best space combat there is to offer.
The graphics can still hold their own - while newer Star Wars games can claim boast more detail than TIE Fighter, the resolution is still crystal sharp, and the framerate is silky smooth - combine that with a fluid and intuitive control scheme, and the result is fantastic gameplay.
The game's linear story, surpisingly, is very well written. The plot is engaging, and fits nicely into the Star Wars universe, between the events of the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The multi-battle war against Imperial traitor Admiral Zaarin which concludes the game feels like it could be part of a Star Wars novel.
All of the cutscenes and pre/post -mission briefings are fully voice-acted, as well as the in-flight communications from wingmen and commanders. The acting is above-average for a game of this nature. The music adapts to the current situation and usually compliments the action - unless you happen to be sitting around, waiting for a transport to dock with freighter. Fortunately, you can accelerate the action 4X to mimimize any time you might have to just sit around. It's a nice touch that shows how much thought went into making this game such an amazing experience.
Beating the game without using the invulnerability is wicked hard, but the game walks you through it by increasing the difficulty slowly through 13 multi-mission battles, giving you time to adjust. The complexity of this game also lends it a steep learning curve - you'll need to learn how to balance your weaponry, shielding, and throttle effectively, and the game has dozens of keyboard commands and menu screens you'll need to memorize. Again, the game overcomes this hurtle by providing an excellent tutorial combat simulator that'll have you learning the finer points of piloting an Imperial starfighter in no time.
In an industry that survives by being the "latest and greatest," where the newest products utilize the most cutting-edge technolgy, games that still get play time ten years later are nearly impossible to come by. TIE Fighter is a game that will keep periodically returning to the disk drive years after today's hottest games are forgotten. It's that good.