Happy Star Wars Holidays, everyone! At the time of writing this, we’re in the midst of all the ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ screenings. Whatever your stand is on the film, it’s evident that, for a good amount of fans, RoS didn’t exactly fill the Star Wars-shaped void in their hearts. While I have my own views on the film, my personal approach to any feedback on the movie is to tell people that “If you still need a Star Wars fix, play Jedi Fallen Order”. So yes, to slightly mimic the lines of Girlfriend Reviews – this isn’t a review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This is a non-spoiler review of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a game that delivers on an amazing Star Wars experience!
I’ll come clean. When I first saw this game during E3, I honestly didn’t think much of it. I mean, it’s been quite a while since a good Star Wars single player video game happened. Plus, when I saw the main character, he honestly looked very forgettable and too generic for a main character. Nothing in the trailer really stuck out for me initially and so I thought that it was just going to be another meh game. After playing it and finishing with just a few achievos shy of a Platinum, I am happy to admit HOW WRONG I WAS.
Okay, let’s establish what Fallen Order is. It’s a game where Respawn took a lot of the video game concepts that worked and combined them all into one game. It has that aspect of Uncharted where you do platforming over dramatic and/or breathtaking set pieces. It has those aspects of Dark Souls where you rest at ‘bonfires’, enemies respawn upon resting, and experience drops upon death. It has metroidvania aspects to it where you go back and forth through maps as you encounter skill-based blocks across various places. Admittedly, one can argue that this means the game doesn’t exactly do anything new and you can even say that combining various things that worked won’t automatically make for a great game. Yes, you’d be correct with those statements HOWEVER, Jedi Fallen Order, in my opinion, still delivers on a Star Wars experience that is AMAZINGLY enjoyable. Let’s look at the various elements more closely.
The Star Wars Story You’ve Been Looking For
Note / Reminder: No Major Spoilers will be discussed here and any story specifics will be about events that are shown in the Introductory parts of the game.
I’m starting with this because, as I said in the intro, if you had problems with the movie’s story then playing Fallen Order might scratch that itch for you. It is worth noting that JEDI FALLEN ORDER IS CONSIDERED CANON. So yes, unless this is retconned, the story of this game is something that REALLY happened within the Star Wars continuity and, honestly, that alone made it worth playing for me.
Okay let’s dive in with a quick non-spoiler synopsis. Jedi Fallen Order happens between Star Wars Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) and Episode IV (A New Hope), specifically 5 years after Anakin turns into Darth Vader and after the tragedy that was Order 66. You play as Cal Kestis, a Padawan who somehow lived through Order 66. In an effort to survive, he has been laying low in the planet Bracca as a junkyard worker / scrapper to avoid Imperial eyes especially since the Empire has been sending out Inquistors to snuff out any survivors of the Jedi Order. Due to a workplace accident, Cal accidentally blows his cover when he has to use the Force to save Prauf, a friend and co-worker of his, from certain death. On a train as they leave work, Cal and Prauf discuss plans of him fleeing the planet before the Empire finds him… a thought that was too little too late as Imperial Inquisitors stop the train to get the passengers to give up the “Jedi Traitor”. Lightsaber in hand, Cal fights to escape but is cornered by the Inquisition. It is only through the unexpected aid of 2 individuals, Cere Junda and Greez Dritus, who appear on a ship to secure Cal’s escape and bail him out. Cere then reveals to Cal that she was a former Jedi who is now locked from the powers of the Force. She enlists Cal’s help as she needs a Jedi to help her in a quest to rebuild the Jedi Order. Thus begins their journey into both new and familiar worlds where they piece together an ancient mystery while fighting off the advances of the Empire.
With that synopsis out of the way, I’ll be fair and say the story is not without its loopholes. But while it may not be an airtight story, the story of Jedi Fallen Order is one modeled after “a hero’s journey”. You get to see and experience Cal grow from just a “Padawan with Potential” into a Jedi. Nay, YOU get to grow from Pawadan to a Jedi. The game lets you feel that growth and, as you progress more into the story, you get the full Star Wars treatment. You’ll witness some cameos, live iconic moments, and see just how life was after the Order 66. Hell, the game does such a nice job of World-Building right from the get-go. I mean on Bracca, you see ships from Episode I-III getting scrapped to be made into Imperial ships that you’ll be seeing in Episode IV onwards. The set-pieces makes you FEEL like you’re in the world of Star Wars and give you more perspective into a lore than us fans already love so much.
What I also liked was how you get to be A JEDI. Note: A Jedi. Not THE Jedi. You’re not a Skywalker. You’re not Rey. You’re not OP. Hell, you’re no Starkiller either. You’re not groomed as the next Darth Vader. Sure, you ARE special because you’re a Jedi BUT THAT’S IT. You’re not godly immune to Stormtroopers (although you can still put up a pretty damn good fight). How this translated to me was that I had to WORK HARD to become a great Jedi. I had to master the Force properly. I had to learn how to wield my lightsaber not just as a LASER SWORD DEATH BLADE but as an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. This was the feeling the story gave me and, at the end of it all, I felt like I finally achieved a childhood wish – I lived through a Star Wars story.
Oh and yes, I know I said Cal looks a bit too generic and forgettable and, honestly, I still feel the same way. BUT believe me, the supporting cast really makes up for this PLUS character development was pretty good… this is especially true for BD-1. (BD-1 > BB-8. Fite meh)
I am One with the Force and the Force… is a bit all over the Place
Let me start this section by saying OH MY GOD, THE LIGHTSABER COMBAT FEELS SO DAMN GOOD. Slicing through stuff your saber (although, the fact that you can’t slice through humanoid enemies feels weird albeit I understand why they didn’t do it because PG), the sound it makes upon impact, deflecting blaster shots, EVERYTHING! It made my inner child feel so giddy.
Okay, now let me put the nostalgia googles away… because it’s here that the game encounters some REAL ISSUES. You may have heard by now but, in case you didn’t know, this game is has A LOT of bugs which is a shame because, had it been cleaner, I would’ve given this game a much higher rating. The bugs come in all shapes and sizes – you have places that make you clip through stuff, you have AI-pathing issues where you and/or your enemies would move kinda weird, and a lot of graphical slowdowns. Like I love this game, yes, but seeing stuff load in slowly (i.e. I went to an area and the background started loading texture after texture slowly) kind of breaks immersion. What’s worse is that, you are playing a game that requires a level of precision. I mean, Jedi Fallen Order is kinda like Space Sekiro (although, FO has adjustable difficulty settings so, for those of you who said games like Sekiro were too hard and felt like it excluded people who weren’t that “gud”, you got your wish) so you definitely gotta nail them parries. So imagine the frustration when parrying becomes a bit of a challenge because your frame rate DROPS sometimes. As lovely as this game was and despite my entire being wanting to play this with MAX GRAPHICS, I had to activate PERFORMANCE MODE on the PS4 Pro (Sadly, only the PS4 Pro gets this option) to make my parries more consistent. You could also tell that this game wasn’t quite as optimized as it should be when you would DREAD death. Why? Not because you had to start over. Nope. The REAL PUNISHMENT OF DEATH was the awkwardly long loading times which does kinda kill gameplay momentum.
The skill tree in the game was okay but, I honestly couldn’t shake the feeling that the Force Push / Pull sometimes felt too… cheap? Like there are PLENTY OF TIMES that you can avoid a difficult (and supposedly epic battle) by just pushing enemies off platforms. I mean it’s funny as hell to do but there were times that I felt like I was robbing myself of an epic battle experience by doing so.
Truth be told, I was VERY LENIENT with these bugs and shortcomings because I personally found the game experience that Jedi Fallen Order gave to be THAT GOOD but it still is a bit of a shame since I truly feel that, with just a little bit more polish, this could’ve been a strong Game of the Year contender.
Much to Learn you still have, Padawan
Let it be said that I WANT THIS TO BE A TRILOGY especially now that the movie trilogies are done. I really feel that the story of Jedi Fallen Order has a lot to offer and a lot more to give. That said, there has to be a LOT of improvements to be made.
For example, the loot system was kinda forgettable. Aside from crucial Story Upgrades to BD-1, 95% of chests in the game contain COSMETICS. However, there’s a good and bad to that. The good part is some of them were REALLY cool… most notably, the ones for lightsaber customization and the alternative looks for your ship, The Mantis. I definitely spent a lot of time coming up with the most badass lightsaber look but I will say (and I can’t go into more detail about this because spoilers) I did feel like I should’ve done a first playthrough without changing the look first. Of course, that’s just me. I will also take this time to say that there were times that I HATED CUSTOMIZING when the lighting was weird (this applies to lightsaber customization workbenches you find in the field). You just wouldn’t get a really good look at your saber because of it was just too dark or something like that. It’s something that I wish they fixed. I’ll also say that customizing BD-1’s appearance sometimes annoyed me because he kept moving to an angle that would be difficult to see. The answer is quite simple: Better Previews please, Respawn. I know it’s a nitpick and, like I said, I love your game but please do fix this.
Now for a really BAD part of the cosmetic loot. MAJORITY OF THEM WERE PONCHOS and MAJORITY OF THE PONCHOS LOOKED HELLA UGLY. In Jedi Fallen Order, you can customize various parts of your Lightsaber, Cal’s outfit, Cal’s poncho, BD-1’s paint job, and the Mantis’ paint job. Aside from the Saber, THE PONCHOS HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY MORE OPTIONS THAN THE OTHERS and almost all of them looked (in my opinion) dumb. It looked so bad that I found feeling most of the time that this part was rushed. Aside from that, chests containing cosmetics almost all the time meant there wasn’t any REAL need to chase after chests in the game.
Final Verdict – 7/10
- Delivers a great Star Wars Story and Experience
- Lightsaber combat is enjoyable
- Strong Supporting Cast and Character Development
- Beautiful Set-Pieces
- Frequent Framedrops and Bugs
- Slow loading upon death
- Force Push is a bit too OP
- Poncho cosmetic options usually suck
For all its cons, this game still is a net positive for me. For all the bugs, balancing issues, etc, this game STILL delivers on a solid Star Wars experience and, for me, that’s the most important thing. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order succeeds in making you FEEL like a Jedi AND in making a world with interesting characters that has enough going for it to merit its own trilogy. Just as I said in the beginning, if you’re still looking for a Star Wars fix, I highly recommend you pick up Jedi Fallen Order.