Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Review: Respawn Does it Again

There are times when there appears to be a golden boy developer that seems to have Midas’ touch when it comes to making games that people are sure to love, and in recent years I have no doubt that Respawn can be considered one. Even the Star Wars IP was something EA couldn’t quite figure out what to do with, Respawn pulls off another hat trick and leaves me impressed with Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

This time you take on new character Cal Kestis, a Jedi in hiding in a world post Order 66. Where, after a riveting 30 minute start of this title, the story sends you flying through the galaxy to help rebuild the Jedi Order that the empire had destroyed some years ago.

 

Production (4.0 / 5)

The game performs well eonugh on the PlayStation 4, graphics have taken on its own aesthetic, instead of trying to accurately reproduce the movie look that DICE had made back in Battlefront. This works more as a boon for the game as the models were capably animated without too much of a restriction that realism demands. Characters conveyed their lines and emotions in a way that was quite convincing. I would also like to take a minute to praise how cool the aliens look in this game, something that I feel has been sorely missing in the recent movies of this series. The inclusion of aliens and monsters really add to the feel that you’re on another planet.

One other thing SW Jedi Fallen Order does that I appreciate is it having its own unique soundtrack. It really makes the game stand onits own a lot better than seem  like a spinoff. This goes perfectly well along with the convincing voices behind all the characters of this game, particularly for Greez, heck, I’d say the storm troopers themselves steal the show every once in a while.

If there’s anything I’d say was a bit of a negative with this title, it would be the efficiency of loading time. Restarting the game sometimes takes a lot longer than what I’m comfortable with, averaging at around 30-45 seconds on my PS4, and this happens every time I have to respawn, so it does hurt when it comes to handling bosses I had a particularly difficult time with. Loading and rendering errors could happen as well, though these are more on the rare side. None of them were particularly game breaking with exception for that time enemy models took way too long to load up, that I was already at the door of the next room before T-posing enemies suddenly floated to my face, which lead to my funny demise. There’s also some glitches with texture loading and in complex environments frame rates can painfully stutter, which can be annoying if it happens in the middle of platforming sections or even worse, actual combat. Though, let’s note that this was on my old PS4, so your mileage may vary on stronger or newer systems.

 

Mechanics (4.2 / 5)

Appabend, a youtuber I follow, said that he thinks of SW Jedi Fallen Order’s combat as ‘bad Sekiro,’ to the point that he’d call it ‘Star Wars Jedi Die Twice.’ I agree with him so much except that I’d call it ‘Sekiro Wars’ instead.

So, much like Sekiro, this game is based more on being able to react properly to whatever your opponent is about to do. You are free to fight as you like, but parrying and countering is so far the most rewarding and efficient way to fight pretty much everyone, even an AT-ST. You have your weak and strong attack, jumps, blocks, and dodges, and the controls feel almost as good as Sekiro. What makes Fallen Order unfortunately a cut or two below is the lack of refinement of animation. While they do look good, there appears to be a lack of response with them, particularly when cancelling one action into another. You’ll really want to be able to cancel into a dodge or parry as quickly as possible as most of your attacks do not cause your enemies to flinch. Parries don’t particularly feel good to execute at Master Difficulty as well, but it seems to hit the mark more at Padawan Warrior difficulty, so you may want to take that into account during your own playthrough. Another thing that sets it apart from other souls-like games is the skill system that divides between, Force use, combat and survival skills. It generally feels like something I’ve seen in Assassin’s Creed before, to be honest, not that there’s anything wrong with that. They actually feel mostly useful, and the fact that they’re slowly unlocking the skills through story progression prevents me from trying to grind out all of the levels too early on, which has been a bit of a problem with my RPG gaming habits.

Maps play a decent part in the game as well, they offer some platforming puzzles which, in my opinion, are there for fun rather than challenge. None of the skating or sliding sequences really present any real danger or put anything at stake. Perhaps it could’ve played even better had they combined combat more with your moving and jumping around aside from just ‘death from above’ assassinations. An overview map is also available in your pause menu, which tells you which paths you can and can’t take. Alternate routes offers some typical rewards within this genre, unlocking shortcuts, finding new loot or even bonus XP. Admittedly, I wish most of the rewards weren’t generally a toss-up between bonus XP and some new color scheme or lightsaber parts. It made exploration a little less engaging to do when the rewards were nearly negligible.

 

Content (4.5 / 5)

The trailers actually made me cast doubt at this game when I first saw it, but it didn’t take long for that to take a complete 180 as I began the game. The story starts with your character Cal Kestis being a fugitive on a scrapper planet while hiding your identity as a Jedi, where a series of events leads you to witness the merciless execution of your long-time work buddy. There’s a few things inserted in there that make it pretty impressive. One, Cal and his friend immediately become endearing characters in the span of 10 minutes, and two, they were running the tutorial at the same time. Respawn had turned my cynical attitude towards the series and the games that come with it around in pretty much record time, heck, that’s something.

Characters are properly fleshed out, even the mini-robot, BD-1. They don’t go on to represent some idea or simply be an insert for the writer to play out something in their head that they really wanted to see. Before any of that their characters, and the voice actors, the script and the writing pretty much all work together to make them people you’d care to know about. They even develop as the story progresses which makes them fun to keep around. I particularly took to Greez, who was the pilot that complained about going into dangerous situations at the time. For starters, he was a full-on alien, the kind of characters there’s been a serious lack of in recent movies. He also displayed a wide range of emotions from being pissed at being ordered around to being much warmer when Cal recognized how hard Greez’ job really was. It was thanks to characters like these that it was pretty easy to get into the story.

I’d also like to take a moment to give some appreciation for the game’s show-stoppers, the storm troopers. Whoever wrote lines for these guys obviously wanted to make going through armies of mostly easy to take down mooks very, very fun. Throwing out lines where they campily threaten you when everyone knows they’re about to lose, or the random banter they have when they don’t know you’re around, they know exactly who they are and every part of the game involving them was a pleasure.

Though, it’s not all smooth sailing when dealing with the troopers, they came up with specialized anti-jedi types called Purge Troopers that were frankly more than handful when first dealing with them. They, along with some sith you’ll have to deal with really push the limits of what you’re capable of and what you’ve learned in the game’s combat. Once you pick up on the certain tricks each enemy has, cutting them down starts feeling relatively simple. The real challenge comes along with fighting the Second Sister. The game doesn’t really set the skills required of you to be that high, but they’ve managed to design enemies and placements in such a way that you’re not really bored of fighting through your enemies.

 

Features (4 / 5)

There doesn’t appear to be a lot of extra features in the game, and I think that’s perfectly fine. Because it seemed pretty obvious that there was a plan to sell cosmetic items at one point with you being able to customize 4 things in the game. Cal’s saber, his clothes, BD-1’s paint job as well as the ships. Things that generally don’t really impact the game or ideally even affect how you’ll experience the story. 

Though if there’s one thing I would really have loved to have in this title as a feature would be the ability to fast travel between save points. I honestly didn’t see the point of leaving that out. Oh, one other thing that would probably be great would be an opportunity to practice combat freely. Like testing new skills out or learning your parries.

 

Conclusion

Honestly, while I could keep going on how to improve the combat aspect of this game, I honestly think this is a great product and a superb first try from Respawn. I would dare those who would like to dismiss it as another Soulslike clone to try it for themselves, they’ve just done a superb job of making it feel like its own game even while borrowing many elements from certain titles.

This is the first time I’ve genuinely enjoyed a Star Wars title ever since Jedi Knight Academy. Single player games really do have a place in this world no matter what era. Respawn is indeed the golden boy of EA, as it makes a wonderful swing at a new game once again.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has found the light with a 4.18 / 5

 

Available on PS4, XB1 and PC

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