REVIEW – Cal Kestis is a Jedi youngling who survived The Purge of the Jedi that was carried out under Order 66 during the end of the Clone Wars. Ever since The Purge all he has ever done was hide, and work as a mechanic on a junk planet, barely having any friends, in order to keep his Jedi past a secret. However due to an unfortunate incident, he was forced to choose between his best friend’s life, and his secret revealed. He chooses his friends, and as such, the Empire is now hot on his tail, just like his brethren, and sisters were hunted in the past. He must now come to terms with the fact that repressing his true talents, and abilities is no longer an option if he wishes to survive against the Empire
For a long-time Star Wars has not had a singleplayer experience of such magnitude. We did have some skirmishes with singleplayer experience under Battlefront 2 (2018), which was not the best, and a bit short, the movie-tie in Lego Star Wars games (not a truly cinematic experience, but fun games). Plus we had a VR experiment with Vader Immortal, but there are still a few caveats with those VR experiences, price of VR gear, software, the user might not be able to tolerate VR, and finally, the length of these games are not there yet as they are mostly short experiences. That is why when the creators of Titanfall announced they were working on a AAA singleplayer Star Wars game everyone was hyped since they already proved they can create memorable experiences with Titanfall 2’s campaign.
„Cal” of Duty
The story of Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order begins five years after the end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. After Order 66 was initiated most of the Jedi fell, and for those few unlucky ones who survived, life is hell on a daily basis. Working on a Junkyard planet is not an easy place, and full of dangers. His cover is compromised one day when his best and only friend’s life become endangered when they were dismantling a ship. The Empire immediately dispatches two Inquisitors to kill Cal Kestis, but he is rescued from The Inquisitors, by a former Jedi Master Cere. Cere is on a mission to find an artefact of an ancient civilization that holds the key to bringing back the Jedi Order from the brink and rebuilding it to oppose the tyranny of the Empire. While the game is rated T for Teen – probably cause there is no decapitation against human enemies (but we will get back to that), the themes of the story, and presentation is not exactly for the faint of heart. It goes above and beyond what has been presented in most of the main movies, and additional materials like comic books, cartoons, and some of the older games. Plus this game is officially canon to the entire Star Wars lore, so everything was approved by Lucasarts, and fits neatly into the narrative of Star Wars.
Prince of the Dark Souls Uncharted
While the above might sound like hyperbole, Respawn has taken a lot of inspiration from Naughty Dog, Fromsoftware, and even some parts of the old Prince of Persia games from Ubisoft. In the first twenty minutes, Cal is thrust into a disaster, and every event is highly cinematic, with great camerawork, and the character jumps, climbs and runs from one burning wreck to another just like in Uncharted games. Cal then raids tombs like Nathan Drake and collects artefacts all the while reflecting laser blasts without care. It does not stop with the usual linear action set-pieces as there are a total of six planets that the player can explore. A full-blown Metroidvania, with skill trees, unlocking new places on existing levels and even dealing with hidden bosses.
Most of the planets have level designs that are eerily reminiscent of the Dark Souls philosophy. In which you would have a starting point in the level that can be reached by two or more ways by the end of a playthrough. It allows the player to quickly explore the level, and decide where to go, and what the player has not seen yet. The combat also takes some nods from Fromsoftware’s franchise, where combat against bosses and tougher enemies are long-term duels, where technique is at times more important than simply mashing the attack button. There are no backstabs, but there is a lot of opportunity to parry and combo enemies. Over the course of the story, Cal unlocks different force powers after re-experiencing previously suppressed memories of his past. It is a great way to unlock those force powers, plus it neatly ties into the backstory of the main character. Finally, we have bonfires… well more like meditation circles where you can reset your health and estu.. I mean Stimpacks and also the enemies respawn if you use the meditation circle. While it copies a lot of things from Dark Souls, it does make it much more accessible to the larger audiences, some of the hardcore gamers might not like such copying, but it is done with great proficiency, and not just simply slapped together.
Kashyyyk, it’s always chic
Very comfortable with the exercise, endowed with more than comfortable means, the Respawn studio allows itself so many largesse that it shows obedience to the Star Wars lore. For example, we are delighted to find Kashyyyk, the mother planet of Wookiees. A luxuriant and arboreal setting, generous in sublime panoramas, and which gives even place (one will spoil nothing) to one of the sequences of the most epic and enjoyable battles seen this year. Because Fallen Order never renounces its first program: unfold an epic in the long course, carried out drumming. Rhythm, fighting, cinematics: each pillar of the game never weakens, but instead intensifies as our character gains power and experience. Each new power or gadget not only brings a little variation in the fighting, but also in the other phases of the game (platforms, puzzles) with a real inventiveness. Respawn especially understood that an adventure of such a calibre owes much to the charisma of its characters.
If the main hero is sorely lacking in personality (role of the first young person), it is better to rely on secondary casting, excellent from start to finish. We note in particular the performance of Greez, Mantis chafouin pilot, who recalls very much the (bad) joking character of a Han Solo while remaining very endearing. But the prize goes mainly to BD-1, the droid of Cal, who deserves a poem alone. Not only this little miniature biped is of a use of every moment (it heals us, serves tyrolienne or hacker on some sesames), but its coolness is such that one finds the first spirit of the saga, and its talent to humanize every bit of scrap. And the bad guys are not left out. In addition to the eternal Stormtroopers, each planet is home to a host of dangerous and / or imposing creatures, proving once again the inventiveness of Respawn to reclaim a codified bestiary, without ever betraying it. As such, the darkness of some antagonists has often surprised us, as their psychology sometimes leaves room for beautiful scenes introspective or emotional. The opportunity to highlight also the exceptional sound work of the game, whether its orchestral soundtrack as well as its dubbing (even in VF), served by a high-pitched vocal casting.
The already-seen counterattack
Lasting fifteen hours (in a straight line), the adventure of Fallen Order remains exemplary in terms of writing. In terms of a fun experience, the report is not so radiant. Often, the game is a victim of its own generosity, sometimes confusing superfluous bulimia. The global progression, made of incessant back and forth between the planets, sometimes comes to break the unity of the game, multiplying the impressions of deja vu, especially when it comes to going to operate a new mechanism to the other end of the map, retyping the same fights as the previous visit. As for the fights, if most remain impeccable, sometimes it stumbles on peaks of incongruous difficulties, on some boss in particular, which seem a little absurd as they swear with the rest of the experience, for the quite magnanimous blow with his players. If we look at the target audience of the game, which is not necessarily that of hardcore gamers, there is enough to scare some novices who come here only for Star Wars.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order
Add to this recurrent inaccuracies in the control of the sword (these enemy shots that affect us against logic) or movements of the avatar, a lot of technical damage (slowdowns on PS4 as on PC) and we get a game that hiccups in some places, sign that a massive patch is (at the time when are written these lines) more than necessary to perfect a gaming experience that deserves it. Is not Naughty Dog who wants, and it’s sometimes a little sad to see it in the heat of the moment. But for the rest, we must face the facts: Fallen Order is solid and catchy. By his science of action, Respawn is what could happen better to Star Wars. Here is a studio that finally succeeds in opening a new way to video game adaptations, not always happy, of the Star Wars universe. All that remains is to hope now that, if there is any, she will know how to find her own way, rather than borrow from others.
The Force is with EA this time
Successful bet for Electronic Arts, which confided a big challenge to the studio Respawn: deliver a solo experience, as mastered as true to the matrix work. Admittedly, the flaws are there: the game sometimes suffers from a lack of personality in its mechanics, a repetitiveness often rough, and a lack of finish here and there. But he succeeds the unexpected: open the imaginary Star Wars to new horizons and new characters, with generosity and maturity on the model of the stars of the AAA. Whether you’re a fan of the saga or not, Fallen Order will have more than one asset in its pocket to convince both sides.
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+ A real Star Wars, in the background as in the form
+ Great combat
+ A dark and mature story with a great cast
– Many dispensable round trips between the planets
– A difficulty sometimes poorly measured, witch some vagueness in some movements
– Technical instability sometimes sensitive
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Release date: November 14, 2019