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Pop Culture Corner: Jedi Fallen Order is a Greatest Hits Mashup

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A barrel of fun, but one we’ve seen before

We have been screwed out of far too many Star Wars video games. So, so many. For years, this was because of Lucas Arts just being a terrible publisher and developer, with internal strife causing too much havoc to be able to produce anything truly interesting. More recently, Electronic Arts has bungled their exclusive contract to publish Star Wars games for Disney. Seven years after their signed contract, they have released three Star Wars games—and cancelled three more (if you include Star Wars 1313, which they could have wrapped up and shipped).

This is to say nothing of the Battlefront II lootbox mess, which was bad enough that sitting Congressmembers got involved. Sad days.

Last year, somehow, the third—and most substantive—of the EA Star Wars games was released. That game was Jedi: Fallen Order. Developed by Respawn, creators of the wildly-underrated Titanfall series as well as the free-to-play hit Apex Legends, Jedi: Fallen Order is a very good game. More importantly, it’s a very good Star Wars game, a phrase harder to come by than compliments for the prequels. And most importantly, it’s a very good single player Star Wars game. With current game economics trending towards games as a service, lootboxes, and battle passes, it’s nice to see a straightforward single player Star Wars game simply exist, let alone be good and do well.

However, I wonder at the long-term legacy of this game, because it is the most hodgepodge combination of AAA game mechanics that I can possibly think of. Put it this way: if I were trying to create a new game from the bones of other popular contemporary modern video games, I would come up with something like Jedi: Fallen Order (or JFO, as I will now refer to it).

Combat in JFO is modestly paced, emphasizing dodging, parrying, and striking when enemies open up. Highly difficult and optional minibosses are strewn throughout the land, and going balls-to-the-wall with wild attacking moves gets you killed. In other words, its combat is Dark Souls.

Traversal in JFO involves climbing of increasingly-ridiculous fences and fauna, with quick respawns from environmental deaths and landscape manipulation in order to get to a point where you can go where you need to. In other words, its traversal is classic Uncharted.

Level design is clearly one of JFO’s strong suits, as each planet feels different and is wonderfully connected. It makes it easy to get from the starting area, the ship, to even more advanced areas that are initially locked off. While it’s true that every game utilizing this type of “go back to places you’ve been with new power-ups” owes a debt to Metroid, JFO is particularly indebted to the Metroid Prime games. Indeed, JFO emulates Metroid Prime 3 in its level design, HUD, and pacing that it feels like a spiritual sequel.

This is also to say nothing of the story, which doesn’t break new ground and is very similar to Rogue One. It’s also to say nothing of the dynamic between Cal and BD-1, which is indistinguishable from how Kratos and Boi operate in the most recent God of War game. Even the music is basically wannabe John Williams.

Again, the game is excellent. Everything it does it does well. It must also thread a very tight needle to succeed—Star Wars games are difficult to publish for a myriad of reasons—and it pulls it off. The game is fun and, most importantly, absolutely nails the feeling of being a Jedi.

But it’s just hard to play JFO and not point at something and go, “Yeah, that part is from x game.” An elevator pitch for JFO is ridiculously simple (and perhaps that’s how it got made): Dark Souls melee combat with a heavy dose of Uncharted traversal and story with Metroid Prime level design. All good choices! In a good game! However, will it hold up? I’m fairly certain God of War and Bloodborne will. Metroid Prime certainly has. JFO, though, is TBD.

Ultimately, despite it’s flaws, JFO is a fantastic Jedi game and there are too few of those.

Jedi: Fallen Order

Play it on: Xbox One, PS4, PC

Length: About 21 hours, per howlongtobeat.com

A good game for: Dark Souls combat enthusiasts, Star Wars enthusiasts, adventure game fans

A bad game for: People who don’t like modern AAA games, those who don’t prefer their games be punishing and/or difficult