Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also on: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

Much like the Jedi Order towards the end of the Republic, public sentiment regarding Star Wars video games was at a low point. A vocal contingent of gamers revolted over the rampant inclusion of micro transactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2, a highly anticipated narrative driven title from Amy Hennig had been canceled abruptly. It would appear that Star Wars fans would not be receiving a video game that could enjoy across the board this generation. However as the situation seemed as bleak, it would appear a small glimmer of hope would appear in the form of a game from a studio known primarily for first person shooters. A single player title from Respawn Studios set between the 3rd and 4th film of the series, it gave me flashbacks of Star Wars Force Unleashed. My apathy towards the title was that no matter what goes on narratively in the title, it will have no great consequence in the Star Wars universe. Footage shown at EA?s Play event at E3 was promising, but it wasn?t until the preview event that I was invited to drastically changed my opinion of the title.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order follows Cal Kestis (modeled and played by Cameron Mohegan), former Jedi Padawan living in hiding after the Jedi Purge. He resides on the planet Bacca, spending his days as a scrapper. An unfortunate accident reveals his Force adeptness and has him running from the Sith Inquisitors, however he ends up being rescued by Cere Junda and Greez Dritus. Cere asks Cal to aid her in finding a treasure that only those skilled in the Force can uncover, a treasure which could determine the fate of the galaxy…

Fallen Order is a 3rd person action title in the vein of God of War series with elements from Metroidvania games as well as Soulsbourne titles. Cal?s journey will take him across several planets in the Star Wars Universe. Some are known entities like Kashyyyk, others are completely original creations like the Zeffo homeworld of the Zeffo. The geo-diversity of the planets is pretty good, the only excluded planet type would be the desert planets that have been featured heavily in the canonical films.

Cal, being an ex-padawan is armed only with a lightsaber which he obtained from his late master as well as the ability to slow living beings and select objects with the force. In your typical Metroidvania fashion, during his journal Cal will obtain new combat and force abilities as he levels up and as he reaches certain points in his travels. Combat is flashy like the combat of the prequels, but at the same time will require you to be methodical like the fights of the original trilogy. While you can run roughshod against standard Stormtrooper swinging like the Star Wars Kid, doing the same against something with more combat experience like a Purge Trooper will likely send you back to a meditation point in short order. This is where the Soulsbourne mechanics really show. Both you and your opponents have a stamina bar which will whittle down as strikes are blocked or when strikes are parried. Enemies are not exclusively humanoid creatures as this game has you fighting some of the local beasts so it is a nice change of pace compared to previous Star Wars titles which feature strictly bipedal foes.

Besides Cal, one would say the co-protagonist of this title is a little droid that you pick up on your journey. BD-1, a Buddy Droid will spend most of the adventure on the back of Cal, occasionally dismounting to highlight scannable subjects or interactable objects. BD also serves as your cartographer, tracking accessible pathways. However as useful as the droid is, the most glaring missing feature of the droid is the ability to mark discovered, but unopened crates. The exclusion of this feature is most perplexing as there are chests which require an upgrade because it can be opened.

Much like the force, just as there is much good about this title, there are elements which are not quite good. One of the more glaring issues is the load times which occur after a player death. The game will also struggle to respawn enemies after Cal has utilized a mediation spot. I have experience multiple instances where enemies will magically appear in the air and then drop down into position. Situations like this really shows the seams in the title, but thankfully they don?t occur often enough to be absolutely glaring. While most of the models look fantastic, details like the scars on Cal?s neck and the bridge of his nose will highlight the harsh life he has led Post-Jedi Purge, there are some character models that have a little bit of an uncanny valley. The most noticeable is Cere?s model, based on her actress Debra Wilson, Cere?s eyes seem to bulge out excessively. Although I will concede my last point was a bit nitpicky.

Given the game?s placement in the Star Wars chronology, it is safe to say that its effect on the time is more of a ripple than tidal wave, however the journey is definitely worth taking. The title?s hero overcomes past trauma and grows into the role he was always meant to take, it features a supporting cast that while a little under-utilized, are also portrayed in a way that makes them feel indispensable. A robust combat system which one wishes there was a mode that would let you relive some of the game?s boss encounters in an easier manner. Respawn has crafted something special here and one will hope that they will be the studio that will be leading the charge in reviving this IP?s fortunes in video games.

EA provided us with a Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A