Very minor spoilers for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will follow, but nothing that you wouldn’t have already seen in trailers, screenshots, or commercials.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is not EA and Respawn Entertainment’s first tango together, but it is their first lightsaber stab at EA’s heavily controversial exclusive license to produce Star Wars games. 2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II saw a troubling launch that was marred with controversy about pay-to-win mechanics and micro transactions, but EA/DICE have since heavily updated the game to strip away any sketchy features, and bolster the game’s foundation with tons and tons of free downloadable content.
While Battlefront II’s campaign was notable in its own right (I happened to love it), Jedi Fallen Order is also EA’s first exclusively single player Star Wars title. In fact, I don’t think we’ve had a single player Star Wars video game since Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II back in 2010. EA heavily plugged the fact that Jedi Fallen Order would be a purely single player experience with no micro transactions or season passes, and for the last two years gamers have waited patiently to see if all of their promises would be kept. Does Jedi Fallen Order bring balance to the Force, or will it destroy it? Let’s dive right in.
Renegade on the Run
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order follows the story of Cal Kestis, a Padawan survivor of Order 66. After narrowly escaping the purge of the Jedi Order, Cal escapes to a remote planet to find a new life as a lowly engineer to escape the gaze of the Galactic Empire. Naturally, within the first few moments of the game, Cal’s cover is blown, and he finds himself on the run once again from the Empire and its deadly Inquisitors.
I have not yet finished Jedi Fallen Order’s robust campaign, but I’m well over 15 hours clocked while playing on Jedi Master difficulty. I am told the campaign is 20-25 hours long, not including the obligatory hunt for upgrades, lore pieces, collectibles, and cosmetic items. Thus far, however, the story in Jedi Fallen Order is fantastic, and at the risk of spoiling anything – I’ll leave it at that.
A Voice Cast for the Ages
Not that this has ever been a problem for most Star Wars properties, but Jedi Fallen Order’s score is an absolute dream. Stephen Barton, Gordy Haab, and their team (whose credits unsurprisingly also include Star Wars Battlefront II) have concocted a moody, atmospheric, foreboding original score while incorporating all the classic themes and overtures that fans of Star Wars have come to love and recognize.
Aside from the score, the sounds and voices of Jedi Fallen Order also stand out. Each creature or animal have uniquely fierce cries and roars, which sometimes are great signals on which rooms to not venture into just yet. Each planet’s auditory identify is also fully realized, as howling cliffs, gurgling swamps, and ominous caves all lend to the overall atmosphere of the game, while remaining distinctly Star Wars.
The voice cast, led by Cameron Monaghan, Debra Wilson, and Daniel Roebuck, is absolutely phenomenal. I can’t say I’m as familiar with Monaghan’s work as others might be, but his performance as Cal Kestis begs to be nominated at next year’s Game Awards. Familiar voices include Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker reprises his role as Saw Gerrera, and Dee Bradley Baker from The Clone Wars voicing some Clone Troopers.
Last, and certainly not least, is Elizabeth Grullon – also known as The Second Sister. Jedi Fallen Order’s primary antagonist absolutely OOZES swagger and skill, and is a perfect “love-to-hate-you” villain that makes you want to improve, just so you can be that much more ready the next time you face off. The Second Sister is an all-new character for Jedi Fallen Order, and Ms. Grullon does an unbelievable job bringing the tragic villain to life.
For a single-player adventure game, Jedi Fallen Order does an incredible job of really “taking you there” when it comes to Star Wars’ vast galaxy. There’s very few properties or fictional universes that are more fleshed out and fully realized as Star Wars, and their meticulous attention to detail, canon, and thematic consistency makes you feel right at home on each new planet (even if they aren’t very hospitable). If you’ve seen Kashyyyk in Return of the Jedi or Dathomir in The Clone Wars, you’re going to feel like you’re coming right back home when you visit those places in Jedi Fallen Order. That, alone, is one of the game’s most impressive accomplishments.
No Journey Is Without Its Bumps
The lone low-point for me with Jedi Fallen Order was how inconsistently the game performed. I have been playing on a launch model Xbox One, and have experienced occasional freezing, slow loading textures, and inconsistent framerates while in more populated areas. I wouldn’t consider any of these to be “game breaking”, and figure they will likely be fixed in a patch, but its still pretty shocking for a relatively linear single-player game to have so many technical hiccups out of the gate. Dr. Bob is playing Jedi Fallen Order on PC, and has reported no freezes or texture problems, but tells me he has experiences some FPS hitching.
Become A Jedi
If you’ve played any action/adventure titles in the last year or two, you probably know what to expect here. Fans of the Uncharted series will feel right at home with Jedi Fallen Order’s platforming mechanics, but the Force powers you acquire throughout the game put a unique spin on traditional platforming formulas and puzzles.
Jedi Fallen Order also features many “Metroidvania” and “SoulsBorne” elements, which for people who aren’t familiar with dumb gaming portmanteaus means that there are elements of backtracking to familiar areas to find new equipment and powers, and that the combat is pretty fucking hard.
From a difficulty standpoint, Jedi Fallen Order is probably the most challenging Star Wars game I’ve ever played. After just a few opening hours in Jedi Master (the second-from-hardest) difficulty, I realized that this was not going to be a walk in the park. The game is just as rewarding as it is challenging, though, as each lightsaber duel with a significant foe had me white-knuckling my controller to the point where I could hear the plastic creaking. All of this led to a greater sense of accomplishment, though, any time I toppled a new enemy.
Cal is a Jedi on the run, and there’s no shortage of things in the galaxy that are looking to kill him. Jedi Fallen Order’s difficulty truly gives you the sense that you need to be alert at all times, and that one wrong move could mean certain death.
The Good: A stellar voice cast, an insane amount of lore sprinkled absolutely everywhere, and a delightfully moody score makes Jedi Fallen Order the most fully-realized and immersive Star Wars game since Knights of the Old Republic.
The Bad: Jedi Fallen Order does have a pretty surprising amount of technical issues, such as occasional freezing, slow loading textures, and inconsistent framerates while in more populated areas, but I wouldn’t consider any of these to be “game breaking”, and figure they will likely be fixed in a patch.
The Verdict: On a technical level Jedi Fallen Order certainly is not perfect, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing one of the best titles of 2019, and one of the greatest Star Wars games ever made. Jedi Fallen Order is a must play for any Star Wars fan, and would be a delight to anybody else who fancies themselves a fan of “Souls/Borne” action games.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is available right now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. If I were you, I’d start downloading it right now. Do not miss out on this game.