Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a third person action adventure game.
It is available for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.
The game brings with it an original story set a few years after the events of Order 66.
Eyebrows were raised and scepticism was high ever since the announcement that Respawn, the developer behind first-person shooter games like Titanfall and Apex Legends, would be developing a third-person action-adventure game set in the Star Wars universe. Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that the publisher behind the franchise was none other than EA. The last time I really enjoyed a flagship third-person action game from the house of EA was Dead Space 2 which was released back in 2011. Today we have with us Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and I must say, the force is strong with this one.
Story: The journey of a young Padawan
One of the most gripping elements in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is the story. You don the role of Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan who has survived Order 66 and is living in hiding. For those unaware, Senator Palpatine AKA Darth Sidious orders the Clone Army to kill all the Jedi at the end of Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. It has been a few years since the incident and Cal has been in hiding working as a scrapper. The beginning of the game may feel slightly silly from a story perspective but once the ball gets rolling, the story of the game is as gripping as Rogue One. It is the story of an underdog who has taken on the responsibility to fight an evil stronger than him and finds his true strength along the journey. Cal is on a mission to find a list of young children who are strong with the force to rebuild the Jedi Order and he needs to get to them before the Second Sister. Getting to these children is no easy task as their location is as well hidden as the secret tombs in an Uncharted game.
The beauty of the story is that it isn't fully straight forward but rather layered with a few interesting subplots that ultimately tie into the main story. For example, you find out about the past of the Second Sister, find out interesting details about your companions and there is a lot of lore about the word scattered throughout the game. These subplots and stories are very interesting.
Overall, the story of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is brilliantly paced, strategically executed and apart from a weak opening is strong and engaging till the end.
Gameplay: The lightsaber battle we’ve been waiting for
Sekiro + Uncharted + Metroid = Fallen Order. That is the best way to describe the gameplay. The combat is very similar to Sekiro where you have just one weapon throughout the game but your abilities and upgrades grant you new moves and skills. These new moves and skills keep the gameplay fresh and also help you learn the basics while trying new moves. The combat is easy to pick up but hard to master. You have one face button on the controller for light attacks, one for heavy attacks and the four shoulder buttons function as force abilities. You can slow down an enemy, push them away, pull them close, so on and so forth. You can also upgrade these abilities along with upgrading your lightsaber skills and towards the end of the game, you become a badass Jedi. The enemies are by no means easy to take on and if you are a button masher, this game isn’t for you. You need to calculate and time your attacks with every foe. There will be times when you will be overwhelmed by the simplest of enemies simply because you didn't think the fight through. It is easy to deflect blaster shots back to the trooper but you need to time it right. You need to parry an attack at the precise moment to make an enemy vulnerable. Close quarter combats need quick timing and boss battles need you to be vigilant and master the force.
The combat in the game requires extreme calculation. The beauty of this game is that you can change the difficulty at any time, so if you find a particular battle too tough, you can reduce the difficulty. The difficulty in the game doesn't affect enemy health. In fact, it reduces the parry window and increases enemy aggression making the combat more challenging as you ramp up the difficulty.
Adding a break to the combat is exploration and puzzle-solving in the game. You have Uncharted like set pieces throughout the game along with Prince of Persia style wall running and climbing. The puzzles in the game are a lot like Uncharted and some of them will make you scratch your head before you get the solution. The pacing of the combat with puzzle-solving and traversing with the occasional boss fight thrown into the mix is fantastic.
The game doesn't have traditional save points. Just like Sekiro, you have points where Cal can meditate and it saves the game. Here you can also upgrade Cal’s abilities. If you chose to “rest” at a save point, all the enemies in the world will respawn and so will your health and healing canisters. There is no regenerating health in the game so your decision to “rest” and regain health at a save point comes at the cost of more enemies in case you decide to backtrack. In theory, this mechanic adds a layer of tension to the game but in a country like India, where power cuts are frequent, the lack of often save points can be a factor of frustration. Also, there are some tough enemies scattered throughout the game and the thought of re-engaging with them time and time again when you revisit a planet can get frustrating.
Another thing to note is that you only respawn at your last save point when you die. If you fall off a cliff while traversing you spawn right next to the cliff and this is a blessing giving you the freedom to explore without worrying.
One more element in the gameplay in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is your companion BD-1. He is a cute little bipedal droid who not only hacks terminals for you but also stores health canisters. At the beginning of the game, he can store only two health canisters for you, but you can explore the world to find upgrades to increase BD-1’s carrying capacity. You can also call upon BD-1 to give you hints when solving puzzles in the game. Pressing down on the D-pad initiates a small conversation with BD-1 and during puzzles, these conversations turn into hints.
Overall, the gameplay in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order requires more thinking than your traditional fighting game. If you like games like Metal Gear Revengeance or Vanquish, then your thirst for fast-paced action will not be satisfied here. However, fans of Sekiro or Nioh looking for a game with controlled difficulty will feel right at home. The only downside is the respawning enemies which can be frustrating at times.
Graphics – Stunning but with some hiccups
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is beautiful with some bugs littered here and there. Every planet you visit has a distinct colour palette, theme and style. Overall the game looks gorgeous with great lighting effects, detailed environments and in some situations, vast draw distances. The best part of the graphics in the game is your ship which is super detailed and the interiors of which remind me of Millennium Falcon. The lightsaber in the game is extremely detailed too and throughout the game, you can unlock customizations for the lightsaber which is great.
Character models aren't the best in the game and for some reason, they look slightly artificial. Don't expect the same level of details in character models as we saw in Uncharted 4.
The rest of the animations especially the combat are fluid and extremely well executed. From the acrobatic lightsabre movements to the traversing and even the enemies that attack you, all of them have fluid and realistic animations.
On the PS4 Pro, where we played the game, there is a performance mode which caps the resolution at 1080p and gives you an unlocked frame rate. While this does make the game look smoother, the framerate isn't always consistent. This wasn't a noticeable problem for me, but some might not appreciate the framerate hovering in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Considering the precision needed in combat, the higher framerate is a better option in my opinion.
Another problem is that the game randomly freezes and this usually happens before you enter a new area which leads me to think that this freeze is the assets loading in. you may wonder why this happens but I would suggest you thoroughly explore a plant to understand how vast and complex it is. This is by no means an excuse as other games like 2016’s Doom also had a vast complex map. Maybe this will get fixed in the future via an update.
Overall the graphics of the game are stunning, albeit with some hiccups here and there.
Sound – True to the Force
From the moment you jump into the game, you know it is a Star Wars game. From the signature orchestral tune to the whiz of a lightsaber and even the bangs of the blaster, everything is signature Star Wars. The developers of the game have stayed true to the source material and that is great. The voice acting deserves special mention and more than the protagonist and his companions, it was the Second Sister's performance that captured me. Her back story, motivations and more are highlighted to you first hand and Elizabeth Grullon who voices her has done a fantastic job. We also have Forest Whitaker reprising his role as Saw Gerrera and Gotham's Joker, Cameron Monaghan dons the role of the protagonist Cal Kestis.
All the voice acting in the game is top-notch and since you will spend most of your time with Cal, Cameron Monaghan has done a great job of evolving the character from a young Padawan to a Jedi Master. Even the beeps and blips of BD-1 are very reminiscent of BB-8 and he is one of the best sidekicks in video games. He is right up there with Daxter, Clank and more who have become iconic sidekicks in video games.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a great game. It has great combat mixed with interesting puzzles and a gripping Star Wars story. It has some graphical and animation snags but the package on offer is definitely one worth considering if you like third-person action-adventure games. It apes games like Sekiro but makes the combat more accessible to new players.
Tested on: PS4 Pro
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC
Price: Rs 3,499
We played a review copy of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on the PS4 Pro.