• Developer: Respawn
  • Publisher: EA
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Release Date: November 15, 2019
  • Price: $59.99
  • Reviewed on: PS4
  • Review Code Provided: No

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an exciting foray into the endlessly entertaining universe of Star Wars. While it isn’t without its issues in the technical department, as well as having a lack of diverse enemy types and at times messy level design, the game offers its players enjoyable and satisfying (although often repetitive) exploration and traversal, along with excellent lightsaber and Force combat that allows for creative usage of your skill set.

Let’s get the negative out of the way first; the game runs horribly. Played on a base PS4, you can expect almost constant frame drops, as well as the odd pop-in occurrence. There were also several times throughout gameplay where the game froze entirely for a moment to save. Issues like this are to be expected and can be excused in small amounts (eg. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), but when they happen as often as this, it can completely break your immersion and significantly hurt your experience. Minor but still present, there’s also the occasional glitch with clipping or enemy AI, but videos from YouTubers like Dunkey definitely make it seem more extreme than it really is (nothing against Dunkey, showing off silly glitches does make for a more entertaining video).It’s a shame, because graphically, the game looks great. Models are detailed and new creatures and such look like they were ripped straight out of the films. Animations for lightsaber combat are brisk and exciting, and they look like moves a Jedi would really use (although movement animations definitely leave something to be desired).

Speaking of lightsaber combat, it’s fantastic. Every strike really feels like it has weight behind it, and the variety of different moves within your tool-set (unlocked through the surprisingly fulfilling skill tree) creates fun scenarios that are only really possible in a Star Wars game. Midway through the game, you unlock the iconic dual-ended lightsaber, with its own set of attacks and skills that opens up your opportunities even more. One of the greatest parts of the combat is its use of the Force, allowing you to push and pull your enemies around at whim, as well as the convenient slow ability to give yourself a moment to heal, all tied to a convenient force meter that charges when you attack your foes. Nothing beats the satisfaction of taking advantage of an enemy near a cheeky ledge, and force-pushing them into oblivion.

Now of course, in between combat, there must be something! That something would be the game’s basic yet ultimately worthwhile platforming mechanics. Early in the game, you unlock the wall-run, and you continue to earn new platforming abilities that open up more and more exploration as you progress. It mostly consists of running along walls, grabbing ledges, climbing vines and ropes- it’s all very Uncharted-esqe. The platforming, of course, is the gateway into Fallen Order’s exploration.

Jedi: Fallen Order contains three core types of collectible- Force Echoes, that don’t really count towards completion and are just there for the odd amount of EXP and extra pieces of lore; Chests, that contain cosmetic gear for your character, your droid friend BD-1, your ship, or most often, your lightsaber; and finally Secrets, containing either permanent health and Force upgrades, or Stim Canisters that upgrade your healing item limit (Estus Shards anybody?). Collecting all of these ultimately fruitless collectibles ups your completion percentage and unlocks neat customization, but at what cost? Plenty of chests and secrets are cleverly placed, requiring the use of your abilities in interesting ways, while others are tucked in snug little corners whose loot just disappoints you when you finally find them. In the end, exploration is a welcome mechanic, but after 100%ing the game and finding everything it has to offer, the world can feel a little shallow. Plus, since there’s no real reward for 100%, it kinda makes you wonder if it was even worth it.

In addition to these fulfillment issues, the map design on certain planets makes them absolute hell to traverse after a first visit. Some planets (looking at you, Dathomir) have maps that mislead you and areas that seemingly make no sense. The linear level design works well when progressing through the story, but after returning to grab missed collectibles, the planets can feel like a messily constructed maze.

So what about the story, your driving force throughout the game? It’s simply Star Wars, entertaining but not too complex. Taking place a few years after the events of Order 66, Cal Kestis is a scrapper trying to hide his Jedi powers from his fellow workers. After using the Force to save his best friend, he’s swiftly located by Vader’s Inquisitors. He ends up escaping thanks to the help from his new allies, Cere and Greez. They end up on a quest to locate an item which contains a list of Force-sensitive children, to help reconstruct the Jedi Order. During your quest, you come across several boss fights, which are easily one of the most entertaing parts of the game, requiring you to act quickly and time parries in a good-old-fashioned lightsaber duel.

The game includes a few core enemy types, enough to keep you on your toes. Everywhere you go, you see Stormtroopers, whether they wield blasters, electric batons, or rocket launchers. After those, there are the Purge Troopers, more powerful foes with strong combo attacks to keep you guessing. After the Troopers, there are plenty of creatures, with a few unique to each planet. The issue with the creatures is that unlike Troopers, with patterns that require you to parry and time your dodges, they quickly all fall into the same motion of dodging and attacking that gets dull very quickly.

Going back to the topic of graphics, Fallen Order’s presentation is one of the most impressive parts of the whole adventure. Graphics are smooth, models are gorgeous, and the voice acting is absolutely on point. Cameron Monaghan completely nails the inexperienced Jedi look and feel. Possibly the greatest part of Jedi: Fallen Order is the soundtrack. Instead of relying on reusing songs from Star Wars’s past, there are many unique tracks that seriously had me thinking John Williams himself composed the game until the end credits rolled. Whether it’s emotional themes, action set-pieces, general planet exploration… seriously, MASSIVE props to Gordy Haab and Stephen Barton for composing one of the greatest soundtracks of the year, maybe even the decade.

All in all, although not without its shortcomings, Jedi: Fallen Order is an enjoyable romp into the Star Wars universe that should undoubtedly be experienced by any fan of brisk combat and Star Wars as a whole. Fallen Order has plenty of nods and direct references to other pieces of Star Wars lore that will greatly please fans of the films. Tidy exploration, bad-ass battles, engaging platforming, and a perfect soundtrack to keep you motivated make this game something to behold. EA got this one right, guys.

8/10

Leave a Reply