STAR WARS JEDI – FALLEN ORDER [Review]: Padawin.

Travis Moody
@TravMoody

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Disney+’s The Mandalorian is currently the hottest show on TV, and, with less than a month away, we’ll be saying “may the force be with you” to 42 years of Star Wars films with final Episode, The Rise of Skywalker. As far as Star Wars on PC’s and Xbox and PlayStation consoles, it’s time for a new saga, a new Jedi saga it seems…

THE PHANTOM MENACE

Having just rolled credits on the much-anticipated single player SW experience, I can safely say that Jedi: Fallen Order lives up to and even exceeds expectations. It’s just a good ass video game. Respawn doesn’t try to reinvent the genre with this take. No, in fact, the Titanfall devs take what made their own IP so admirable, and toss in a slew of gameplay mechanics from video games they oh-so-clearly admire (Soulsborne, Metroid, God of War, Mass Effect, etc.). Hell, it makes me wonder if this sharp resemblance to Nathan Drake’s adventures is the #1 reason why the Visceral/Amy Hennig Star Wars project got canned. Maybe there was no point a second game of its kind. Despite the similarities between Fallen Order and, well, every 3rd person action-adventure game ever, Respawn takes what works in the aforementioned games and makes it really work within the confines of the Star Wars universe.

ATTACK OF THE CLONES

It’s almost a compliment to be called a Souls-like these days, and the combat here is no exception. You can feel the weight behind protag Padawan Cal Kestis‘ (Gotham/ShamelessCameron Monaghan) lightsaber, and I couldn’t contain my excitement when it came down to constructing something.. more powerful. Sure, there are several workbenches throughout the game that will give you a chance to design your own lightsaber handle (without having to pay Galaxy’s Edge atrocious prices), but those aesthetics don’t mean a whole lot when you can really only see the blade in action. But the blade.. just wait. Things happen. It’s so rock ‘n roll. Later in the game you’ll be able to choose from 7 or 8 color light beams and all’s well in Disneyland right after that. Combat isn’t nearly as hard as Dark Souls unless you shoot right to Jedi Grandmaster difficulty, but even on “Baby Yoda” Story Mode you can’t merely smash buttons and hope to win. Shocktroopers, Purge Troopers, KX droids (akin to Rogue One‘s K-2SO), Dathomirian Nightbrothers, and a whole range of Imperial Knights and Bounty Hunters can and will challenge you to a near broken controller rage.

When you steal from your ex and she wants to kick your ass.

REVENGE OF THE SITH

Since I suck at FromSoftware games, it may surprise you that I absolutely adored SWJFO‘s combat difficulty. Despite the ability to change just how hard on the fly, I adored the challenge of a game with such a popular IP, and nothing in the countless battles ever felt truly frustrating (ah-ha — “Sekiro with glowsticks”). The game force-pushes you to make adjustments, use your entire arsenal and upgraded abilities (Writer’s note: will have to expand on this element on the next Geekdom Gamescast since I’m doing my best here to leave our spoilers!), “git gud” at parries and timely dodges, and not go to the well too often. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with Fallen Order when hordes of Troopers (and haunting planet creatures) come storming in and that classic John Williams’ score starts kicking as you have little choice but to wreck shop! And there is nothing more satisfying than having Cal deflect the Stormtrooper blasts right back at their sorry asses. I swear it never gets old. One of the beefy challenges in SWJFO come when you need to deflect laser beams or electric arrows from afar while having powerful melee studs ganging up on the young padawan from all angles.

A NEW HOPE

In addition to the excellent combat is a pretty solid story to be had as well. It’s a dark one, which seems to be the case for all Star Wars video games, taking place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. With that, EA provides a near perfect blend of post-Order 66 Clone War saga and O.G. trilogy aesthetics. Kestis is your run-of-the-mill young Jedi character who grows on you the longer you venture on his mission, witness his personal maturity rise and experience more of the bond between him and the splendid companion droid hanging on his shoulder, BD-1. Their adventures together makes you wonder if this was the game ReCore wishes it was.

Screw “The Child”; I’m cuter. Blurp, bee-bee, blurp!

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

While all of the other new characters are interesting, none — this side of the Imperial Inquistor, Second Sister — stand out enough for want of a Hasbro replica unlike that of KOTOR‘s Darth Revan (who had a figure that was damn near impossible to obtain for like a year) and almost everyone from The Mandalorian. This side of Forest Whitaker‘s Saw Gerrera from Rogue One, the roster in Jedi: Fallen Order is “video game cool”– not “action figure cool”. That said, Cere Junda is the most dynamic of all key figures in the story, and you can just read the conflicted struggle on her eyes. Debra Wilson pulls in a hell of a performance as former Jedi stalwart, current Cal mentor.

RETURN OF THE JEDI

On the surface, Jedi: Fallen Order is a pretty if unspectacular looking game; but far more importantly, Respawn nails all of the bells and whistles of Star Wars. Look closer and Cal’s robe selections have intense detail in the cotton threading. The game is ridiculously comprehensive visually when it matters least, but that’s appreciated. Some of the planets outduel the level design of Battlefront II (Dathomir’s ancient ruins for sure!), but face models minus Whitaker’s are hit-and-miss. It’s a very good looking AAA third party game that won’t win any awards for its appearance but won’t have too many complaining either. The variety of Stormtroopers and alien creatures all more or less look tremendous.

I wonder what Rey is doing…

THE FORCE AWAKENS

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game are the Tomb Raideresque QTE and traversing sections. There were a few moments in the game where I have to live, die, repeat several times due to a simple button press not being pressed at the right time by.. inches. Some of the adventure action requires supremely precise timing when, say, trying to land on a giant bird monster that’s trying to rip your head off. All of the roller coaster-like sequences are a pain in the ass too, and lord knows how many times I had to retry sliding down some ice cliff because I missed a timely jump the likes of only Tarzan could make. It shouldn’t be this hard to be a Jedi.

THE LAST JEDI

Other than that, many of the environmental puzzles are fun due to the force powers Cal acquires during his adventure. It’s nice to see those tools used for more than just combat. (Random note: I read or listened to all of the many audio logs in the game ’cause.. Star Wars. Since SWJFO is canon, I definitely didn’t want to miss any detail!) Fast travel would have been nice, or at least a “return to ship” option. That said, having to return through a massive level I already whooshed through force-choked me into exploring even more– and Fallen Order‘s sense of adventure is top-notch. Thankfully there are enough lootchests full of useful rewards like upgrades, health cannisters and cosmetics to find; and learning more about the planet and the history of terrible things that led to the situations at hand via audio passages def opened up the lore in the game quite a bit.

Hold on; lemme ask Cere.

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER

Seeing how the story takes us from Episode III to IV, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Going by the great reviews and even greater fan response, it looks like EA and Respawn have their own Insomniac Spider-Man with Jedi: Fallen Order, and another Jedi game could just be a couple years away on the Scarlett and PS5. While I wouldn’t mind seeing a Mandalorian-infused DLC story thrown in somewhere down the line, I’d much rather the devs save those Pedro Pascal and his Child for a much deeper experience in on the next one. We could very well be deep into Season 3 by the time that rolls around and the source material could be enough to warrant its own title (a Moody Hunter can dream). But if this isn’t the last time we see Cal guide us to a galaxy far far away, you won’t feel any great disturbance from me; Jedi: Fallen Order is THE Star Wars game we’ve been looking for. 4.25/5 Bibles.

-Travis Moody

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