Wow! ANOTHER video game review from me within the span of a month? Truly, the editors must be crazy to ask ME, the most casual of gamers, to put my thoughts and feelings on one of the more hotly anticipated Triple A releases. The stars aligned and it just so happened that a game was released that intersected with one of my primary interests and I found myself compelled to run out and buy Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order…after reading some of the initial reviews, that is.
For the uninformed, Star Wars and all the associated ephemera was absorbed into the Disney monolith several years ago (all hail Walt, may your cryo-tube preserve you until the day you see fit to thaw and bathe us in your warmth and whimsy once again) and Disney cancelled all Star Wars video games in development and handed over the contract to produce future games to EA ( not me). EA churned out an online shooter game that was filthy with loot boxes, lacked an offline campaign mode, and was basically aggressively mediocre.
There’s a larger conversation here about “games as a service” that I’m not qualified to talk about, but the general direction EA was taking was that if you wanted to play a Star Wars game it was going to be online and you were going to have to pay to upgrade your gear so that you could “win” the game. Not cool.
When I play a video game, I’m looking for a fun, single-player experience. I grew up in the era before online gaming was a thing and I subsequently missed the last generation of gaming when the online component rose to prominence. The pitfalls of online gaming are pretty well known so I had decided that it wasn’t something I was interested in. Eventually, I purchased a PlayStation 4 that came with Star Wars: Battlefront and that pretty much cemented my position on the issue.
My PS4 game purchases were initially limited to maybe one or two games a year and there was always a Star Wars-shaped hole in my gaming life. I lamented the fact that the long in development Star Wars 1313 was never to come to pass because it looked like a cool Uncharted meets Star Wars mashup that could have been a lot of fun.
While I was busy with my Star Wars-less gaming life, EA released a second Star Wars: Battlefront which did not go well for them (possibly the biggest understatement of the decade). In fairly short order they announced that a single-player Star Wars game was in development, had always been in development and why are you doubting that this was ever not in development, huh? In fact, a lot was done to minimize the EA-ness of the game and promote Respawn Entertainment of the developer. I think it’s a safe assumption that we were all pretty doubtful.
I am not a sports fan. If you’ve been reading my writing for any length of time that much should be clear. But, I’m going to attempt to mix in some sports talk here, ahem…You know when you’re watching the big sports game and that guy kicks the old pigskin and there’s a moment where you’re waiting to see if you’ll get a point and thereby validate your entire existence? Waiting for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was a lot like that. “It’s up annnnnd…IT’S GOOD!”
Yes, this is an okay game. I hadn’t preordered the game because 1) preordering is for chumps and B) I wanted to see it it was going to be worth my time and money before I plunked down sixty American dollars for something I may or may not enjoy.
Now on to the particulars. You play as generic Jedi in hiding Cal Kestis, a survivor of the Empire’s Jedi purge. I’ve begun to wonder just how effective Order 66 was because when story needs dictate, a Jedi survivor can be magic’d up with the wave of a lightsaber. Anyways, you’ve got a lightsaber, some Force powers on your side, and a McGuffin to quest for. You’re going to run up as many walls and fight as many stormtroopers as it takes to accomplish your goal of bringing the Jedi back to the galaxy, even though this takes place prior to the original trilogy when the Jedi are still extinct. I hope I didn’t just spoil the game for myself.
Even though I’m being a tad nitpicky about the story of the game, nothing can beat swinging a lightsaber around and deflecting blaster bolts with it. Star Wars fans such as myself are easy to please in that respect. I will say that while I have been playing on the normal difficulty setting, I have found the game to be punishingly difficult. There are a lot of what I would call “cheap” deaths by missing jumps or not timing an attack correctly. There also seemed to be random difficulty spikes in the enemies I encountered during my initial play through as well.
Much like the Art Of book I reviewed previously, the game is absolutely gorgeous. When you discover a new area of the game or grand vista the camera will pull back as if to say, “check this shit out…that’s a crashed Star Destroyer. Is that Star Wars enough for you?” I have encountered random bugs while playing, drops in frame rates, twitchy camera angles, and the like. I’m hoping that these are all subsequently addressed through patches that are yet to be released. At present, there are none of EA’s pay-to-win options present in-game but I will say that the supply crates that you can find an open in-game feel a bit like loot boxes that have had the payment option stripped out of them.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a fun game for the average Star Wars fan out there and you’ll no doubt have a good time playing it but I still can’t help but think about what might have been had Disney not contracted EA to do all the Star Wars games.