The EA era of Star Wars video games has been a little bumpy to say the least. With two Battlefront games that have been rife with controversy, many wanted EA to lose the license outright and get away from the multiplayer shooters that have become the norm.
Enter Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the first single player focused canon video game since the Disney acquisition. Reminiscent of the Jedi Knight and The Force Unleashed games developed by Lucasarts, with a heavy influence by developer Respawn, it appears the ship has been righted. And if reactions from journalists who have played a three hour preview are to be believed, that is very much the case.
Brian Altano of IGN compared the gameplay and exploration of Fallen Order to two iconic Nintendo series, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid.
"Fallen Order takes some of my favorite things from my favorite games and carefully places them in my favorite universe - Star Wars. It’s got the 3D map from Metroid Prime that looks like if AutoCAD designed building plans showed breakable walls and health upgrades....It’s got the dungeons from 3D Zelda games with lengthy, inventive puzzle sequences and miniboss fights."
I've been excited about Fallen Order since I attended the panel and Star Wars Celebration last April, and I can't begin to tell you how the comparison to Zelda takes that excitement to a whole new level. As someone who has played every Zelda game since 1998 and loves the dungeon crawling aspect, combining both Star Wars and Zelda sounds like a match made in video game heaven.
What was interesting about reading all these impressions, was that even though these comparisons to other games such as Zelda and Metroid excited some, others weren’t as impressed. In fact, a lot of testers said Fallen Order borrows a fair bit of ideas from other games and doesn't really have that innovative design that so many people loved in Respawn's previous hit, Titanfall 2.
Ars Technica's Samuel Axxon said…
"Based on my time with it, Fallen Order isn't a very original game. But it combines elements from some of the most popular single-player triple-A titles of the past few years in a familiar cocktail mixed for the modern core gamer's palate. The narrative is strong, the visuals are appealing, the lightsaber combat is tight, and the target audience is going to gobble that up, I suspect."
While this comes across as a bit negative, I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. Many of the greatest games in the past decade have borrowed heavily from games prior, it's how well you take that concept and integrate it into the narrative that makes it compelling. Heck, even George Lucas borrowed from the old Flash Gordon serials he watched as a kid to create Star Wars, so obviously there's a way to build on an existing property, and do something great with it.
Another small detail that might have some pretty huge story implications comes from an image that was released with the previews, a selection screen depicting the planet Dathomir, home of Darth Maul. Now, I might be a little off with the timeline, but shouldn't Maul be on Dathomir around this time, beginning his role as the head of Crimson Dawn? Does the former Sith Lord play a part in Cal Kestis' journey to becoming a Jedi Master? We'll see, but it certainly would be a really cool inclusion and one that would make sense.
Speaking of Dathomir, a lot has been made about the difficulty of that level and how important choice is in the game itself. Going back to the Zelda series, the last main line games have made a very big deal about finishing dungeons in any order you want to and the difficulty that can come from that.
Gamespot's Alessandro described in detail the entire process and the difference between Dathomir and another planet Zeffo…
"On Zeffo, you'll find an Imperial outpost filled with stormtroopers, though beneath the surface lies a labyrinth of ancient ruins housing ancient Jedi artifacts. However, if you were to choose Dathomir, then you'll venture to a planet that's home to dangerous monsters that can defeat you quickly.....Before selecting Dathomir, Cal's allies Cere and Breez will actively warn you not to go--but in the end, it's your choice."
This ability to choose your own path not only allows players to immerse themselves in the world, but makes the adventure uniquely their own. If you want to go to Dathomir and face a horde of Rancors, you can. Or, if you want to have an easier go and head to Zeffo and fight Stormtroopers, you can do that to! Personally, I love those kinds of choices in games and it gives them a high level of replayability.
Finally, I think the last point I want to go over is just how unexpectedly deep the game appears to be and how long it took some of these people to finish the level they were on. Alex from Star Wars Explained said that the temple on Zeffo alone took two hours to finish, and by his own admission, forced himself to leave and explore the other planets available in the demo.
Brian Altano also said something similar where the game was bigger than what he thought and at one point during gameplay said, "wow, there is way more here than I thought there would be" , a sentiment shared by many who have played the game.
I think most of us were expecting mechanics similar to the linear games that have come before, and that doesn't appear to be the case.
Overall, I think there's a lot to be excited about when it comes to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Combining elements from some of my favorite games of all time with some really exciting story possibilities, and a continuation of one of the best games LucasArts had?
Not to mention, a further exploration of a piece of the timeline we don't know too much about, compared to others, is more than welcome. The surviving Jedi of Order 66, being on the run, hiding, and in some cases fighting for their lives, is something that's been only lightly touched upon.
I have a very good feeling about this.
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