Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is everything I love and hate about videogames rolled into one. It offers up a journey of Star Wars proportions, complete with huge ships, epic lightsaber battles and explored worlds. On the other side, it’s a frustrating buggy mess of a game which feels like it has been stretched out way too far in order to please those who hate games which aren’t longer than 20 hours. In this respect I am conflicted, here we have what is probably one of the best Star Wars games I’ve ever played, but it could have been so much better.
Before we get into the good and bad points, let’s talk about the story, which it’s fair to say is classic Star Wars. You play as Jedi trainee Cal Kestis, who is being chased around the galaxy by the Empire, or more specifically, ‘The Second Sister,’ an evil Inquisitor trained by Darth Vadar himself. As the story progresses Cal discovers more about himself and with this learns the ways of the force. While at first there doesn’t really seem a purpose as to why we are actually playing the game, it’s not long before the plot starts to unfold, which eventually, after dozens of hours exploring the galaxy, leads to a reasonable conclusion.
As far as Star Wars games go it’s hard to argue with the action on offer here. Straight away you are thrown into the Dark Souls-esq combat. There is no button bashing, instead, you relying on your gaming skills to dodge and time hits with accuracy. This is easier said than does against the determined Stormtroopers who carry electric batons and seem pretty well trained in the art of bashing your face in, but you’ll soon get the hang of it, which is just as well because there are greater challenges than Stormtroopers, coming in all manner of shapes and sizes from large creatures with three eyes to a huge flying beast which reckons you’ll make a nice addition to its nest.
The progression system in Jedi Fallen Order really comes into its own with the combat. As you progress through the game you’ll both learn the ways of the force and earn points which can be spent on new skills. To do so you’ll just need to find a meditation point, which also acts as a place to save your progress. Once meditating you’ll be able to spend your points on different combat moves. Generally, these combine with your knowledge of the force allowing you to learn new moves to give you an advantage in combat. There are countless new moves to be learned, far too many to mention here.
Another bonus of learning the ways of the force is that it’ll help you solve many of the puzzles within the game. Most of the time you’ll be exploring different planets and having to find ways past certain sections, so being able to push and pull objects using the force comes in quite handy in this respect. The puzzles you’ll come across work much in the same way. You’ll push or pull an object and eventually figure out what you were supposed to do, although on occasion things are mixed up. For instance, in one level you’ll have to use a wind mechanic in order to move around steel balls, all while combining this with your Force Freeze move, which allows you to freeze an object for a limited amount of time.
While using the force to solve puzzles is a large part of the game, the combat is where it really shines. At first, you’ll have a single lightsaber to bash enemies down, but as you grow stronger and unlock some of the moves mentioned above, things get really interesting and exciting. The action ends up going at such a fast-pace you’re jaw will be on the floor at how good it is. Not only that but your lightsaber gets better too. Want a double-edged lightsaber? You’ve got it. Want two lightsabers? Why not. While at first, you’ll probably have been stumbling through the combat, by the end you’ll feel like a real Jedi Master as you cut through everything in sight.
There’s nothing quite like taking down Stormtroopers, large beast and AT-ST’s with your double-edged lightsaber. If only the whole game gave you the fantastic feeling you get from this, I’d be writing ten in the score panel now and going back to play, but sadly not everything about this game screams epic.
One of the major problems with Jedi Fallen Order is that it is a buggy mess. Even when playing on PS4 Pro texture pop-in is a regular occurrence. There are a lot more worrying issues, however. For instance, in one level I was travelling up an elevator and could hear from the gunfire that there was a large scale battle taking place on the roof. I held my breath in anticipation and readied myself for a fight, then the lift door opened and I was met with disappointment. What happened? Well, some Wookies and some Stormtroopers were standing next to each other, completely still. There was still the sound of gunfire, but nothing was actually happening. I ran around them, but nothing. At this point, I took it upon myself to smack a few Stormtroopers and once I finished them off with my lightsaber, it seemed to spark the game back to life. Some new enemies spawned and the Wookies decided to join the party.
Add this major bug to the countless amount of times my character got stuck in the scenery and the, quite frankly stupid, ice skating mechanic that has you pulling your hair out in frustration every time you are forced to slide down a hill and you’ll have to accept to admit this game is far from perfect. Another issue I have is the game is just too long. I’m all for games lasting 20+ hours if they have something to say, but Jedi Fallen Order constantly sends you back to the same area, often fighting against the same enemies you’ve already killed at least four times, since they’ll be there on your way into the level and they’ll have respawned again on your way back out. I love the storytelling I feel like it’s been dragged out far too long just to tick some boxes.
On the more positive side, the game looks fantastic. Some of the environments you’ll visit are stunning to look at. Then there is the combat, which when in full flow is absolutely amazing. It’s like a Star Wars fans dream. The character models are also well designed and the enemies look great too. So overall it’s a bit of a mixed bag really.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order is a fantastic game despite its flaws. If there were no technical issues it still wouldn’t be the perfect, but it’s still well worth playing. Personally I feel developers should look at the likes of Uncharted, which tightens up gameplay hours in order to tell a story which has a huge impact and leaves you wanting more. This approach would really have benefited Jedi Fallen Order as, by the time you play 20+ hours, constantly revisiting the same areas over and over, the impact has gone.
Lesson’s to be learned then, but you’ll still have a fantastic time playing this game, it’s a must have for Star Wars fans.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*