After a few seasons of The Mandalorian, I was in a Star Wars mood. But while Disney seems to be launching new premium series as a stormtrooper shooting protagonists ineffectively, it will be many months before I get anything new. so with a big discount and a $ 1
The game came out with mild praise last year, along the lines of “it’s the best Star Wars game in a long time”. But beyond games like the legendary exercise in greed was EA’s Battlefront II, that wasn’t exactly a high bar to clear. Still, I was itching for a few lightsaber fights so I sat down and went to WHOOSHing.
A little longer ago …
Fallen Order does a lot of work to organically fit into the loose canon of the Star Wars universe. It opens a few years earlier A new hope, where we see Jedi Padawan and Order 66 survivor Cal Kestis lying low, working in an imperial junkyard. When he’s forced to use the Force to rescue his buddy, the Empire sends a team of Jedi fighters to investigate, and a small group of rebels save him from a discount (and female) Darth Vader.
On board the very cool looking rebel ship, we meet Cere (pronounced “Seer” because Star Wars doesn’t do subtlety), another Jedi survivor who has lost her connection to the Force. She pays the ship’s owner, a wise, four-armed, fluffy fellow named Greez, to transport her across the galaxy in search of a USB stick full of information about Force-sensitive children. Once Cal gets his own Star Wars brand Droid, a squeaky little robotic parrot hanging on his shoulder, our lineup is complete: race around a handful of planets, follow a trail of breadcrumbs to beat the Empire to the kids list.
Though it’s nothing groundbreaking, Fallen OrderThe story is surprisingly good. Cal’s journey from self-confident, haunted young man to full-fledged Jedi makes organic sense thanks to the generous amount of backstories, which also open up new traversal abilities. And I found myself invested in Cere’s history too: why would she cut herself off from the Force? The personal drama is far more compelling than the lore, which is all about the tombs of a lost civilization – more or less an excuse for sprawling level design.
Their characters were given gravitas by some very talented voice actors (Cameron Monaghan of Gotham and Shameless fame offers Cal’s voice and likeness) and some really great facial animations. I didn’t expect it from developer Respawn, previously known for Duty and Fall of the Titans, but the faces are expressive and subtle, even if they are not human. I was happy to see the non-Vader villain take off her helmet, if only so as not to waste the actor’s performance without a face to express.
That said, the story can’t help but end on a bit of a downer, if only because it has to fit in with the rest of the Star Wars universe. If you start with a pre-New hope story about “reviving the Jedi order”, it’s not a spoiler to say that at the end of things the status quo hasn’t changed much.
Knock me down
The highlight of the game for me is the lightsaber fight. Fallen Order has often been compared to Dark souls, which is fair, because saving your progress will refill your health bar and revive all enemies. But the combat itself is much faster and smoother, with your magical laser sword providing both attack and defense to repel melee attacks and blaster bolts.
Like it Dark souls and its modern contemporaries, you need to approach the battle with caution and think: just swing away to the various stormtrooper flavors and creatures will soon leave you as a Force ghost. Guarding, fending off and choosing your moment to strike are all essential elements, not to mention positioning and crowd control in the tougher battles.
While the number of enemies that lightsaber can block or refuel hits the belief from a fan perspective, this careful and deliberate approach to combat is captivating. It’s more or less the opposite of the unhinged power fantasy we see The Force Unleashed, or Kyle Katarn’s “DOOM with a Lightsaber ”outings in the Jedi Knight spell. It’s as close as I’ve ever seen that a game makes you feel like a Jedi, by practicing skill rather than just unleashing magic. Even Cal’s more powerful unlocked attacks are balanced with a limited amount of Force (in fact, Stamina).
Oh, and ever since Dark souls has been brought up: no, the game is not nearly as difficult as that association implies. I had a bit of trouble with the final boss, and the timing of the blink and you’ll miss it forced me to use a wired connection to make up for Stadia’s usually invisible lag. But even newcomers to this type of fight won’t be too intimidated at lower difficulty levels.
The meandering story lets you explore a few new planets in addition to some well-known Star Wars locations, such as Dathomir and Kashyyyk. And of course a few recognizable faces from the movies emerge. But ‘planets’ are really just ‘levels’. They are large, although they may not look like much at first, with a few branching and intersecting paths that are given structure through traversal methods.
As the game progresses, you will open up new areas of the levels with new Force abilities and digital upgrades for your droid. Suddenly accessing the places that were previously cut off is thrilling … but trudging through half of a level you’ve already seen isn’t, especially since you’ll rarely find anything useful in previously inaccessible nooks and crannies. A new paint job for the ship or a new poncho for Cal are hardly worth exploring these levels.
And the exploration was my least favorite part of the game, if only because the physics can be really grumpy. I often knew exactly what to do, but the game wouldn’t let me do it because it Not mapped-style climbing and jumping pieces require that you do things right correctly. I lost an hour on a little piece of a puzzle and was pretty annoyed when I gave up and searched YouTube for the answer, only to realize I got it right away and the game engine was just stingy.
The inconsistent jumping and climbing is generally a minor gripe, and you can get through these sections with a little patience. At the very least, they rarely play a role in combat, allowing the game’s best feature to shine through the fuzzy parts.
Give it a try
At the moment of writing, Jedi: Fallen Order costs just $ 24 on Steam, Epic and Stadia, and you can often find the Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game at a discount too. It’s also on the EA Play and Xbox Game Pass subscription services, making it effectively free if you’re already paying for it.
While not an Alderaan-destroying innovation in Star Wars storytelling or action-adventure gameplay, Fallen Order is a solid romp through a known universe. And surprisingly, it’s free from the microtransaction nightmare you’d expect from an EA Star Wars game. Aside from a few extra cosmetics and a making-of-featurette in the “Deluxe Edition”, the game won’t bother you for additional purchases.
Veteran Soulsas gamers may find it tame at lower difficulty levels, and the Metroidstyle exploration is hampered by clumsy physics. But Fallen Order easily has the best lightsaber combat of all Star Wars games, none. That alone is worth checking out – see if you’re a fan of the franchise. And if you like gaming, you probably have something playing it. You can buy Fallen Order for Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia or PC through the Epic and Steam stores.