A Step in the Right Direction: "Jedi: Fallen Order"

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Before I start this review, I must admit to a bit of bias regarding the “Star Wars” franchise. I have been known to make hasty, hype-filled conclusions about movies and games in the past were not at all based on sound logic. For this reason, I have refrained from writing this review immediately after playing the game, hoping a bit of time would allow me to look at the game more realistically. With this being said, I still believe that this game has something that a lot of the recent “Star Wars” does not, this being passion. It is clear that Respawn Entertainment LLC foremost cared about making a good “Star Wars” game and more than that, a good Star Wars story. It is a game for the fans, not a cheap cash grab like that of “Star Wars Battlefront II’s” early stages. With no microtransactions and no slated DLC, “Jedi: Fallen Order” takes a step in the right direction for fans of “Star Wars” and fans of video games. 

What really surprised me when I played this game for the first time was its difficulty. “Fallen Order” is a hard game. Unlike most of the recent big-budget story games, this is truly unforgiving. The game most certainly does not hold your hand throughout combat, allowing the player to really develop their own style of play. Most other linear games make it pretty clear the route they want you to follow and exactly how they want you to play, but “Fallen Order” lets the player choose for themselves. Perhaps one player chooses a more defensive style of play as they wait for the perfect time to parry an oncoming attack, while another player uses the forces to rip an unsuspecting storm trooper off his feet directly into the blade of their lightsaber. This is the reason that the game is so incredibly engaging. You really feel like you are in control of every situation and that rewards the player with an incredible sense of pride when they finally beat the inquisitor they were fighting for over an hour. 

Another thing that could be unfamiliar to a lot of new-age gamers is the introduction of checkpoints. They do this in the form of meditation points which feels right in line with the universe the game is set in. It requires players to find certain areas in the level in which they can meditate and thus save their progress and refill their health. If you die before meditating, you restart at the last point the game saved. I have rarely seen this version of saving implemented in a game of this style and it is so much more punishing than you might at first think. There have been countless times when I have forgotten to meditate for a while and end up getting destroyed by an unexpected opponent and sent back to like 30 or 40 minutes before. I think however that this fits perfectly with the tone the game portrays. You can't save in the middle of fights, you can't just go back to seconds before and try again; your decisions matter, failure has consequences. 

Despite all the great mechanics the game implements, it is definitely not perfect, it can really lag at times, especially on console. There have been moments in which my game freezes entirely and then unfreezes only to find myself on the death screen. This is an extremely rare occurrence but it cannot be ignored. Another problem the game suffers from is the glitchy movement that occurs from time to time. Characters can glitch into walls, abruptly stop moving, and even glitch off of cliffs. While these bugs are annoying, they are rare and do not impede on the playability of the game.  

Where this game really shines is in its story. After Electronic Arts Inc. took over the rights to produce “Star Wars” games, I was heavily skeptical regarding the future of single-player “Star Wars” experiences. This uncertainty was even more prevalent after the train wreck launch of “Battlefront II”. It was, at launch, a game plagued by microtransactions and although it had a single-player campaign, it was nothing to write home about. I have to give EA credit, however, as “Battlefront II” today is nothing like it was at launch, but it still left a bad taste in the mouth of consumers. I am so incredibly thankful that my skepticism was misplaced. With the release of “Fallen Order”, EA has proven that they can make an engaging single-player “Star Wars” experience, a game that does not need to rely on post-launch DLC to stay even slightly relevant, and most importantly a game that does not contain microtransactions.

The story itself is also fresh and exciting. It takes place somewhat soon after the execution of Order 66 and the Jedi, which is a pretty much unexplored time period in mainstream “Star Wars” media. They introduce fans to multiple survivors of the purge who all deal with the fall of the order and the Republic in different ways. It blurs the lines between right and wrong and ultimately provides players with an engaging experience that they will not want to put down. We also get some brilliant voice acting from Cameron Monaghan as our main protagonist, Cal Kestis. Overall, the story of the game is probably one of the best and most unique “Star Wars” stories since The Walt Disney Co. took over the franchise. 

If I could describe “Fallen Order” in one word, it would be refreshing. It defies the industry norm for making a triple a Star Wars game, the game really is a love letter to both “Star Wars” fans and single-player fans alike. It represents that it is still possible, even in 2019, to produce a game free from in-game transactions and free from reliance on post-launch content. “Fallen Order” also serves as a step in the right direction towards mending the broken trust between EA and “Star Wars” fans. It is a challenging, fun, engaging experience that still widely impresses me, even after my hype wore off.

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