Star Wars Jedi Fallen OrderNovember 15th, 2019
PlatformPC (Steam, Origin), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
The Star Wars franchise has been having plenty of up and downs in recent years. Following the release of the original movie trilogy, the universe created by George Lucas has been expanded considerably, but sadly not always in the best way. The first two entries in the latest movie trilogy (due to end next month with Rise of Skywalker) have disappointed some fans, who now look cautiously at any new product related to the franchise. The same happened to Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order back when it was announced: the game looked like Uncharted in space and, generally, as a derivative experience that was set to fail in the eyes of many. Respawn, however, has proven with all three games they developed so far(Titanfall, Titanfall 2 and Apex Legends) that they know how to create compelling gaming experiences, and the team has worked its magic again with Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, releasing an excellent action-adventure game that can be rightly considered among the best games based on the popular franchise.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, set five years after Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, stars Cal Kestis, a young Jedi Padawan who managed to survive Order 66 which led to the destruction of the Jedi Order. Hidden on planet Bracca working in a junkyard scrapping ships from the Clone Wars, he ends up using his Force powers to save his friend Prauf during an accident. Unfortunately, footage of the accident manages to reach the Galactic Empire, which sends the Second and Ninth Sister, two powerful Inquisitors trained by Darth Vader himself, to the planet to capture the Padawan. Cal, however, manages to hold his own against the Inquisitors and escape the planet, thanks to Cere Junda and Greez Dritus. The two are fighting the Empire and aiming to restore the Jedi Order, and Cal will have an extremely important role to play in this struggle.
The Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order story is extremely enjoyable, being not only very respectful to the Star Wars canon and lore but also exceedingly well-developed. Cal and the other main characters are never static and experience a good level of growth during the adventure, and the story features the right amount of mystery that keeps players engaged from beginning to end. It's still a Star Wars story, complete with some goofy, but not entirely out of place humor, though, so it does not feature any shocking major twist. But when a story is so well developed and enjoyable, it does not require one at all.
The setting and story of Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order are made even better by some very nice touches that further develop them, first among them the banter between Stormtroopers before fights. These dialogues are often hilarious, showing a range of emotions that highlight how even they are, sometimes, victims of the Empire's vicious rule. The same cannot be said for commanders and Inquisitors, as they show their ruthlessness to both allies and enemies. The lore is further expanded by optional Databank entries. With details on each of the planet's flora, fauna, and history, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order does its very best to make the world feel deep and not a simple backdrop for all the action.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order features plenty of action, and it is as well-crafted as the setting, story, and characters are. The game is a single-player, third-person action-adventure title where players control Cal as he explores several planets made up of interconnected areas in the vein of Metroidvania games, filled with platforming sections reminiscent Uncharted and Prince of Persia, secrets and, of course, enemies of all sorts, ranging from Stormtroopers to Inquisitors, to wild and vicious creatures.
Just like world design, traversal and platforming have been influenced by other popular titles, the combat system is a Star Wars take on the combat system of the Souls series and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Cal can use his Lightsaber and Force skills to take down enemies, who strike hard, defend accordingly and require players to study their attack patterns, dodge and parry attacks properly to find openings to strike. The battle system shows its full potential at the highest difficulty level, which makes enemies more aggressive and increases damage received, requiring players to have a solid grasp of the mechanics to survive the many battles of the game. Encounter and enemy design is also extremely good, with a lot of different battle scenarios that reward creativity: fighting atop mountains allows players to push enemies using the Force, and if they are fighting from long range, you can use the Lightsaber to deflect lasers back to them, and the force to send rockets back their way. All enemies have specific attack types and patterns, and all the tools at the players' disposal can be used to fight back, making the battle system feel more like Sekiro's than Dark Souls', as equipment and build are often more important in the latter. Making things deeper is a stamina gauge that regulates blocking, and limited healing, offered in the form of Stim Canisters, carried by the cute little droid BD-1.
Even the character progression and saving systems are clearly inspired by recent From Software games. Defeating enemies and discovering secrets reward Cal experience, and once enough has been obtained, he will gain a skill point that can be invested in the Skill Tree. The Tree is divided into three different sections - Force, Lightsaber, Survival - which provide a variety of enhancements for Cal's Force powers, Lightsaber abilities, recovery and stamina improvements and so on. All of the skills are extremely useful and expand combat possibilities in very fun ways. The save system is basically the Dark Souls' Bonfires system where players can rest, learn skills and restore health, Force and Stim Canisters, respawning enemies in the process.
While combat is the star of the show in Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, platforming and puzzles are great as well and contribute to make the whole experience feel well-rounded and fun at all times. Exploring planets is very fun thanks to the multiple paths, vertical design and platforming sequences, which often require the use of Force powers like freeze, push and pull and of BD-1 abilities. Some areas can only be accessed once certain abilities have been learned, in true Metroidvania fashion, so exploring all of the planets fully is only possible near the end of the game. The actual platforming sections are in the vein of Uncharted, so they are not particularly difficult, but they can be quite spectacular thanks to the camera angles and set pieces, which are excellent. Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order also tales a page from the Tomb Raider book, featuring several tombs complete with puzzles. These puzzles are not overly complicated, but challenge players and their knowledge of the Force in engaging ways, making the experience even more varied and well-rounded.
Star Wars Jedi not only plays great but also looks awesome. Character models and animations are excellent, and so are the environment, lighting and texture work for both characters and locations, with everything looking gorgeous at Epic settings on PC. At launch, the game was plagued by some technical issues like stuttering, which mostly occurred when the game was loading a new area. An update has been released which for the most part fixed this issue, reducing stuttering considerably, and make the game run smoothly at 1080p, 60 FPS at Epic settings on a PC featuring an i7-3770 CPU, GTX 980 Ti GPU and 16 GB RAM. The issue, however, is still present, and it can get annoying, especially when it starts stuttering while in combat.
Great care has also been put in music and sound effects, with the game featuring the iconic Lightsaber sounds, blaster sounds and so on that make the game truly feel like Star Wars. The soundtrack is also in-line with what one would expect from the franchise, with epic orchestral pieces playing during the most important battles and story sequences.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order feels like a familiar experience, and this is both its main strength and major weakness. All of the elements of the game are well-crafted, but they feel quite derivative, as there is not a single gameplay mechanic that hasn't been more or less lifted from a major franchise. Despite the lack of innovation, the game developed by Respawn is one of the best single-player games released in recent times and a must-buy for any Star Wars fan. Even those with only a passing interest in the series will find plenty to like here, granted they are not expecting to play a revolutionary title.
PC version tested. Review code provided by the publisher.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order is yet another excellent game developed by Respawn. With its excellent story, charming characters, engaging platforming and combat mechanics, the game is a must-buy for any self-respecting Star Wars fan, despite a lack of innovation which doesn't truly harm the experience as a whole.
- Great story and engaging characters
- Excellent combat, platforming, and puzzle mechanics
- Good level design in the vein of Metroidvania games
- Superb presentation
- Distinct lack of innovation
- A bit of stuttering while loading new areas
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