REVIEW: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
It’s been a number of years since we have had a good Star Wars game and I can’t remember when we had a single player only Star Wars game. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from EA as I’m all in favour of single player games telling a good story. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is made by the same team behind Apex Legends and Titanfall so you know they know what they are doing and when you fuse the Star Wars lore then you are onto a winner for sure, right?
You take control of Cal Kestis, who is a Padawan and quite inexperienced. After a dramatic opening sequence which takes place after the Jedi Purge in Revenge of the Sith (the game takes place between the first 2 trilogies). Cal meets an ex-Jedi, Cere Junda, and the alien pilot, Greez, of a very nice looking ship. Eventually you will meet your new favourite droid, BD-1 (get it, Buddy 1!), who is key to the story and to a lot of the gameplay mechanics. The story initially moves along at some pace, with the trio teaming up within minutes of the game starting. The main story arch in the game is a quest to locate a device that contains information about all of the ‘force-sensitive’ kids in the galaxy.
This adventure has you travelling from planet to planet, exploring their secrets, tombs and bases in a Tomb Raider like adventure, but bigger (obviously, it’s in space). The planets themselves are nicely formed and each one is fairly unique. As you progress through the story, you’ll be able to level up certain aspects of your skill (which we touch on in the gameplay below) and by doing so gain access to parts of the game and story you are not able to early on.
The story can get quite dark at times, darker than I thought it would to be honest. The Empire are much more evil in this than in the movies and other games. The Empire can sometimes come across as goofy / clumsy in the movies (look at the last movie where they were being mocked as a distraction before the bombing run), but in Fallen Order, there’s something a bit scarier about them that makes you want to stay on the good side of things.
At the start of the game you have basic control over your lightsaber and powers (to stall time). Through the meditation system (which is also the save game system), as you progress through the game you gain skill points. These allow you to level up your Health / Strength, Lightsaber abilities and your Force abilities. It’s a nice progression system, with the initial few hours allowing you to level up a few notches pretty quickly. By doing things like sensing various items, using BD-1 to scan new life forms, signs and items of interest all add to building up those skill points and increasing your abilities.
I have to say, I love fighting as Cal. The Lightsaber feels really well and like I thought it should. The force abilities Cal has work really well in the gameplay as well. Initially, you can stop / slow things down. So there are areas with big ventilation fans you need to get access to and having the ability to stop them to get through it pretty cool. Eventually you’ll get your push / pull force and then things get really fun when you are able to pull stormtroopers towards you and kill them by sticking them with your lightsaber (NOTE: you can’t slice humanoid characters up like you can the other lifeforms, which is a touch frustrating, but I get why they’ve done it).
You also have some pretty decent Prince of Persia-esq moves to get you through the various landscapes. You can wall run (you’ll get that ability fairly early on), climb up vines and other rough materials, sprint around the areas and balance / creep across various pipes to get to somewhat inaccessible areas.
You’ll be relying on BD-1’s map quite a bit as the levels are fairly complex and it’s easy to get lost. There’s usually multiple levels, spread across a fairly large area involving open spaces, shafts, vents, corridors and some pretty tight spaces I didn’t think I’d be able to get through.
There’s a nice touch in the game where areas you can’t access yet are highlighted in Red, this stops you trying to get into somewhere that you don’t have the skill or point in the story to get into yet.
There are a few stutters while playing the game, mostly when new content is loading in and as pointed out by the team in Digital Foundry, this seems to be an issue with content loading off the harddrive, so if you’re having this issue, try and use an internal drive or a very high quality, fast, external drive.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is built by Respawn, the team behind Titanfall and Apex Legeds and is built on the same engine. We played the game on PS4 in Quality mode, and it really was visually very impressive. There are some things that threw me off, for example, Cal never seemed quite grounded, and I always felt he was floating / not making contact with the ground, it’s a little off putting at times, but most of the time the game looks fantastic. Respawn are targeting 30fps in quality mode and for the most part it’s a fairly sold frame rate.
In 4K HDR, it really is one of the better looking games out there at the moment. The facial animations are pretty decent, especially on Greez, who’s beard and hair are great looking as well. The various planets you travel to all looks distinct, and the game really shines in outdoor scenes where the bright skies (or heavy rain), in combination with HDR, make the game really pop. The textures of the various surfaces, fabrics flora and fauna are all very well realised and help you feel like you are in the Star Wars universe. The various creatures have heft and believability to them, especially the larger, more robust ones. As mentioned above, you can’t cut the humanoid characters in half, but that isn’t true of the creatures and it’s a nice touch to see the lightsaber burnt insides of some of the created.
There’s some lovely touches throughout the game as well, like when you walk into a dark area, you hold L1 to lift up your lightsaber to act as the lightsource so you can see where you are going. This is great as a lot of other games would have chucked artificial light sources around the places that would feel out of place in some of the areas in Fallen Order.
So visually, Fallen Order is pretty great and definitely one of the better looking games of this generation as we come to the end of.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a great addition to the Star Wars universe. Some die hard fans might find that offensive, but as a casual Star Wars fan, I found the world of Fallen Order intriguing to be in and I’m enjoying my time there. Visually, it’s an impressive feat and one, if you own a PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, that you should check out as it really pushes the consoles quite a bit and it mostly pays off. The story is interesting enough to keep you progressing, but it’s the fun gameplay and lightsaber fights that kept me coming back for more.