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Jedi: Fallen Order (Spoiler-Free) - Third-Person Action/Adventure - Video Gaming

Title: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Spoiler-Free Review)

Platform: Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC

Genre: Third-Person Action/Adventure

Creators: Respawn Entertainment (Developer) / Electronic Arts (Publisher)

Release Date: November 15, 2019

Timeline: Five years after Order 66

Review by Colin Borden. This is a spoiler-free review with a spoiler-free discussion.
***Spoiler Free Zone***

As one of the last Jedi, you must do whatever it takes to survive. Complete your training before the Inquisitors discover your plan to rebuild the Jedi Order!

Former Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis has been laying low on the inhospitable junkyard planet of Bracca working as a scrapper ever since Order 66 and the Jedi Purge wiped out his kind from the Galaxy.

After a workplace accident forces Cal to utilize his Jedi powers in order to save his friend Prauf from certain death, he begins to fear for his safety and begins to plot his escape.

Unbeknownst to Cal, an Imperial Probe Droid captured the entire incident and sent it to the Empire. As Cal and Prauf head home, the train they''re riding is stopped by the Imperials and Cal soon realizes he won't get his chance to escape....

Spoiler-Free Review

This review will cover everything about the game except for the plot. That will allow those who want to know more about the game, but don't want the story spoiled to read about it and discuss. A full plot-filled review will follow..

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was off to a rocky start the instant it was announced. After the Battlefront II loot-crate fiasco, many were unwilling to even give EA another chance at a Star Wars game and many felt they were mishandling the license (sound familiar?). However, those fears were somewhat quelled once we got a look at the first trailer and the news that EA’s Respawn Entertainment was focusing strictly on single player and including no multiplayer certainly stopped the concern of another microtransaction abuse scenario. The game looked fantastic from the trailers which show the main protagonist Cal Kestis facing off against the Second and Ninth Sisters of the Inquisitorius. And of course the trailers showcased the beautiful graphics. In many ways this game is fantastic and really enjoyable! However, it really comes down to personal preference and you’ll either be really happy with it, or possibly really let down. That much is obvious from all the varied reviews of the game which range from being “the best Star Wars game ever” to “lacking ambition”.

Prauf and Cal Watch as a Separatist Droid Control Ship is hauled in

So, before we get into the juicy details, let’s go over the basics of the game. You’re Cal Kestis, former Jedi Padawan now working as a scrapper on the planet Bracca just five short years after Order 66 and the Jedi Purge. I reviewed this game on Xbox One X, so there will be minor differences regarding controls, but I will say that the overall feel and controller setup is easy to get a hang of. There were a few annoyances at first such as using the right joystick button as the “interact” button, but this is pretty much necessary in order to utilize the all your combos and powers as you move on, but you can always alter the controls to your liking. It’s all very intuitive though and you get used to everything pretty fast. What you won’t be used to right away is the fact that this is nothing like previous Jedi based games in recent years. You are not uber-Force user Starkiller, you are a Padawan who never completed his training and has been essentially cut off from the force for five years which is more or less like Knights of the Old Republic. From my point of view, it is this aspect that makes it a great game and it’s important to keep this in mind when you start. In fact, the first night I found myself EXTREMELY frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t make certain jumps and that I didn’t have all these abilities, but I quickly realized that it was these lack of abilities that made this a great game for me.

Cal stands amongst B1 Battle Droid parts, Clone Trooper Helmets and an LAAT Gunship

You won’t be zapping stormtroopers with Force lightningand you won’t be mind tricking them into shooting each other. Instead, you start out with ONEForce ability (technically two, but I’ll get to that in a moment) that you can use against enemies; slow. You’re able to slow down enemies or pieces of the landscape depending on the purpose for a brief moment which is enough to get a strike in on them with your broken lightsaber. You go a decent amount of time with just this single Force ability. As you progress in the story, you’ll unlock other abilities as you need them in stressful/deadly situations through a playable flashback to your training days as a Padawan with your Master. These abilities are Force Pull, Force Push, Wall Run, and Jedi Flip (think Luke flipping over the log on Dagobah with Yoda on his back and you’ll have an accurate picture of how Cal looks when he does a Jedi flip). There are other “abilities” to unlock, but these are all of the Force powers and this works for me as well as for the story.

The other Force power I spoke of is the Force Echo ability which allows Cal to see past events that have occurred by touching an item. These can be parts of random lore you can discover about the planet you’re on, mission-based information or they can be upgrades you can unlock to your health and/or force bars. Which brings me to collectibles, but to understand collectibles I’ll have to touch on your little companion first; BD-1. Just like in Battlefront II how Iden Versio had her little companion droid, Cal Kestis finds his own little companion droid which has both game and story functions, but we’ll stick to game functions until the spoiler section. BD-1 comes to you basically at the start of the game and he is very useful. He can unlock doors, unlock collectibles within crates, zipline you down (and later up), overcharge electronics, slice probe and KX- security droids (think K-2SO), and even scan everything from wildlife, vegetation, enemies, artifacts, contains an upgradable number of stims to heal you and even helps you find seeds for your own personal garden! Yes, one of the collectibles are seeds for a little garden on your buddy’s ship.

The collectibles are one of the aspects I didn’t particularly enjoy at all. Each planet has many things to collect such as crates, “secrets”, seeds, and various data on things like the wildlife and vegetation. BD-1 is your key to collecting these typically useless and pointless information. BD-1 unlocks the crates that you find and dives on in and rumbles around in the crate until he pops out with either a new lightsaber piece (type of material, switches and emitters… not crystals), ponchos, main outfits, skins for your ship or skins for BD-1. I found all of these collectibles to be essentially pointless since they did nothing but cosmetic changes. Yes, it’s nice to be able to customize your lightsaber, but it gets annoying after a while. The other collectibles are information that you scan with BD-1 that contains pieces of lore about the wildlife or vegetation, the enemies, or artifacts all of which don’t really provide any interesting or useful information. The only thing that is really worth collecting are the “secrets” which are items that you touch witch your Force echo to provide you upgrades to your health and Force meter or special crates that contain an additional stim for BD-1 to increase the maximum stims he can hold. Every three health or every three Force “secrets” you find will provide an upgrade to the respective meter.

BD-1's helpful Holomap shows Cal all the places he is able to access at this point

There is one really great thing about the collectibles which I like. While the frustration of finding crates and paths that you can’t unlock is real, BD-1’s holomap does a great job of making these areas. Red symbolizes the door, elevator, vine, etc. that you’re currently unable to interact with, but it will become green once you’re able to pass through it. Each planet is also split up into different sections and while it will provide you with an overall number of crates and secrets for the planet, you are also able to see how many crates and secrets are in each section and how many you have found. It certainly cuts down on the random searching for the one last collectible you need. Just as you can upgrade your force and health meters, you can also upgrade Cal’s abilities. This happens with XP based gains from defeating enemies, finding collectibles and scanning things with BD-1 and reward you with a skill point similar to basically all RPG’s. You can use these skill points at Meditation Spots that are littered around the map. You can upgrade Cal which adds new combos and attacks such as saber throw, increase the effect of your force powers, and increase your health and force meter. At these Meditation spots you can also “rest” which will restore your health, reset all the enemies you just killed, and refill BD-1 with a fresh supply of stims. This Meditation spot also acts as your save point.

BD-1 Checks out the planets on the Mantis's Holotable

As we were told before the games release, you can travel to planets however you wish. You’re not restricted to following a set path in the game, but you have to unlock the planets first. So, all the planets are not available right from the start and there are technically only four planets. What you have probably deduced by the way you unlock your Force powers is that you will have to do a fair amount of backtracking depending on how you play the game. I personally played the game pretty linearly and did not “backtrack” until I had all my skills unlocked to avoid having to go back and forth as I unlocked a new skill. Still, the game will have you go back to planets at certain points for the main mission. One thing that I have read about in most of the reviews is that this is essentially a Star Wars version of Tomb Raider and that is absolutely a fair comparison, but Tomb Raider is far less annoying and is put together much better.

The Ninth Sister prepares to show Cal the power of the Dark Side!

Let’s talk about where this game really falls short. While the bosses are actually pretty tough (I played this on Jedi Master level, which is the hardest, to ensure I was able to experience all it had to offer), most of the enemies are pretty ridiculous. Stormtroopers and Scout Troopers essentially stand around sometimes make small talk about some random things, but when you engage them, they go down with a single hit which is what you'd expect from Stormtroopers getting slashed with a lightsaber. Of course, there are stronger versions such as the Stormtrooper commanders and Scout Trooper Commanders, but they’re easily outwitted also. Flametroopers can be pretty deadly in a group as well as the KX Security Droids, but it’s the Purge Troopers that can really do damage and there is a variety of them with different weapons, but this is where the problem sets in. There is an invisible wall essentially that prevents the enemies from following you past a certain point. You can take a step back and be “out of range” of them where they’ll just stand there and stare at you. This allows you to basically cheap it out and strike and run to outlast any enemy you encounter. Without going into too much story, there is a point in the game where you’ll randomly start encountering these deadly bounty hunters belonging to a certain group and they can wipe you out pretty quick. They offer great XP, but if you die, they won’t be there when you return. However, they also fall prey to the invisible boundary which cheapens their threat.

This glowing creature previously killed Cal and he needs to get his XP back!

Speaking of dying, this is one interesting aspect of the game which can definitely avoid a lot of frustration, but it makes me ask why even put it in place? If you die, you lose all the XP you gained, but fear not! You are able to run back to that enemy (who is now glowing a bright gold), strike them just once, and gain back all your lost XP AND get your health refilled. If you were going to make this part of it, why not just remove the XP loss to begin with? Another difference between games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Fallen Order is that in the former you die if you fall from a cliff or miss a jump. Not in Fallen Order. Instead, you lose a TINY (and I can’t stress this enough) amount of health and just respawn where you last were at. This would be a fine feature for “Story Mode” (which is the easiest difficulty level), but for the highest difficulty this should cause death. What happens if you die and it isn’t due to an enemy? How do you get your XP back? It just appears as a glowing spot where you died that you can pick up.

The beautiful scenery on Kashyyyk with the Origin Tree in the background

You might be saying at this point that I didn’t like this game based on everything I’ve said, but to the contrary. There was a lot to this game that I really enjoyed! The levels are beautiful looking, and they really evoke a sense of Star Wars everywhere you look from the artifacts and structures to the wildlife and the plant life. Unfortunately, there are no civilians and VERY few NPC’s, but that is to be expected based on the state of the planets you visit so I can forgive that. That is the same way I feel about the Force powers. This is a Jedi Padawan who never completed his training and was shut off from the force for five years, so it made sense for the story that he didn’t start out all powerful and slowly gained back the little bit of knowledge he had. As you traverse the planets you utilize BD-1 as your holomap to see where you’re going and where your mission destination is. You also unlock shortcuts around the map which help you get to and from areas easier and quicker. Unfortunately, there is no fast travel either to the ship or from place to place around the map. That takes some extra time, but as I mentioned, the short cuts make it bearable. The exploration of the environment is wonderful and the cutscenes are beautifully done. One of the biggest points of contention prior to release was the fact that you can’t dismember the stormtroopers, but this isn’t as big of a deal as it sounds. You can impale them using certain “finishing” moves and you can also dismember much of the animals, wildlife and robots. This also serves the overall story well because dismemberment is more important when it does occur during certain boss fights.

While meditating Cal can use Skill Points, heal himself and reset enemies

The story itself is actually quite entertaining and have a real purpose in the world of Star Wars, but it does end up being somewhat disappointing at the end depending on your point of view. It’s also really great how you unlock your “new” Force abilities. As I mentioned, it happens usually during a moment where Cal is in trouble and you flashback to a playable training moment between Cal and his Master. This makes it much more enjoyable than just simply unlocking the power. However, the one big letdown is the lack of connection to the saga. Battlefront II included some nice little easter eggs that connected to the saga without making big important changes, but this doesn’t really add or take away from the story at all which is what some people prefer. I would’ve liked some little tie-ins, and perhaps there is one tiny one, but it’s not earthshattering. Overall, it’s a great Star Wars game that is fun to play and has a great story and progression. Definitely enjoyable for Star Wars fans, but I don’t know how it would be received from a general gamer. Fortunately, if you’re reading this, you are more than likely a Star Wars fan and will enjoy it. .

Cal's first encounter with the dreaded Second Sister!

Don't Plan on Playing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order or just can't wait to find out the story? Be sure to check out our Spoiler-filled review! Don't forget to also check out our review of Controller Gear's Limited Edition Fallen Order X-box One Controller and Seagate's Limited Edition Fallen Order X-box External Hard-drive!

What Worked

  • The limited Force abilities work for a Padawan
  • Beautiful backgrounds and graphics
  • BD-1 is more than just a useless sidekick
  • Playable flashbacks
  • Excellent and challenging Boss fights
  • The overall story is fantastic, until the very end

What Didn’t Work

  • The common enemies should be more challenging
  • Enemies can't continue to chase you past certain spots
  • Lack of Saga tie-in's and easter eggs
  • Useless cosmetic collectibles
  • No death's when falling down cliffs
Variant Cover Gallery

  Regular Edition   Deluxe Edition   

External Links:
Added: December 6, 2019
Category: Other Product Reviews
Reviewer: Colin Borden
Score:
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