Lately, Star Wars games have gotten somewhat of a bad rap. With Battlefront 2 micro transactions and no major single player Star Wars game in recent years, things were looking a bit bleak. In comes Respawns ambitious game, Jedi: Fallen Order. It is a story that hits all the right notes in terms of what Star Wars should be, has amazing game play that borrows from history’s best, and a world that wants to be explored.
A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far Far Away…
In Fallen Order you play as a Jedi named Cal, who is hiding from the Empire. The game takes place 5 years after Revenge of the Sith and it shows in the opening of the game. Exploring around a Ship junkyard, you see ships from the Prequel series like Jedi Starfighters, huge capital ships and even a Trade Federation ship.
The plot starts rather quickly and soon you will find Cal is being hunted by Second Sister, a Sith Inquisitor who has her own motives and story. You meet 3 companions along the way, an ex Jedi Knight Cere Junda, Greez Dritus who pilots the Stinger Mantis, and BD-1, a friendly 2 legged droid who I admired throughout the game. Once Cal meets Cere and Greez, you are given a mission to help restore the Jedi Order. Its here that Fallen Order goes pretty deep into Star Wars lore. While I found the lore interesting and engaging, I felt the Mcguffin in the game was a bit weak. We know where the story needs to go, and we know how it ends so I felt the ending was not surprising and the mission that Cal and his companions go on felt a bit empty.
However, its the characters in Fallen Order that really shine and help move the story forward. Each character in Fallen Order has their own story to tell from the fallout of Order 66. It was a very traumatic time for the Jedi and the galaxy as a whole. Seeing how characters were personally affected by what happens kept me very engaged and by the end of the game had me feeling for not only the heroes but the villains as well. Its a good achievement for a Star Wars game and Respawn.
For my ally is the Force and a powerful ally it is..
Star Wars games are no strangers to allowing you to play as a Jedi, becoming stronger with the force and using your lightsaber to deflect attacks. Jedi Knight and Jedi Knight 2 were some of my favorite games. Lightsaber fights were amazing for the time and it was a lot of fun using your force powers.
Fallen Order takes a different turn from the arcade type of experience I am used to. The combat very much borrows from Dark Souls. Regular Storm Troopers that just shoot their blaster at you are easy to take down especially when blocking the shots with your lightsaber. Attacking and knowing when to block and parry is key to winning fights. It can be difficult to parry and the timing always seems a bit off to me compared to other games, but I had fun trying to break a stormtroopers block or getting a good finishing move off. The skill tree is big and allows you to upgrade a force power or get a new lightsaber technique to help you in battle.
Of course there are force powers. This is where Fallen Order becomes more like a Metroid game. Some areas of the game cannot be accessed because you lack a power to get there. For example a bridge may be on the other side of a cliff, however you can’t pull it down till you get force pull. Or you may not be able to reach a certain ledge without your double jump ability. I like this level design very much and it allows you to find secrets and keeps you coming back to the worlds for finding new secrets. BD can also obtain some upgrades such as slicing open doors to get to new areas, or opening chests to get a new poncho or lightsaber part.
Which brings me to another part of Fallen Order I enjoy. Finding and collecting a new lightsaber part, or a new poncho for Cal, a new skin for BD or your ship the Stinger Mantis is a welcome addition. There are also upgrades to your health and how much force stamina you can have.
The important thing about Fallen Order is this, I felt like a Jedi playing the game. I had to learn about different combat situations and know my enemy when playing. The engagements were tough but very fun. I found there were many ways to take on an enemy.
Not the performance you are looking for
Fallen Order looks good. Not great, just good. I did find myself more amazing by the design of some buildings or structures. The whole game felt very much like Star Wars. The odd thing that stood out to me the most was Cal’s hair. The effects when he was moving or jumping on his hair was pretty neat. Some character art, like the wookies, looked a bit weird but not out of place.
However Fall Order had some performance issues. Throughout my play through I would get some frame rate drops or slowdowns depending what was happening. If I had to turn around to go back to a previous area, the game would start to slow, probably because that Hard Drive is working overtime to load in whatever it needed to. While these slowdowns were short they did bother me a bit. If I died during a fight, I would respawn back to the next resting area I passed. The loading times could take a good while and I found myself getting a bit frustrated during a fight to wait for the area to load(next gen ssd’s can’t come soon enough). Turning on performance mode for the Xbox One X did not really help the situation much. Another 2 or 3 months worth of optimization would have probably helped a bit here.
This one is strong with the Force
Overall I enjoyed the heck out of Fallen Order. The characters kept me engaged, the combat challenged me. Even after beating the story, I can go back and collect secrets to find out more about the worlds in Fallen Order, collect more lightsaber parts, upgrade my skills to the max and continue to have engaging fights. What is more amazing is that this is a game from a developer, Respawn, who is known for it’s Titanfall series and very popular Battle Royal, Apex Legends. It is amazing to see a developer step out of its comfort zone and into a different genre. It is definitely worth a pick up and my favorite game this year overall.