Rank your Star Wars fandom from 0-10.
Give it an honest number. Nobody is judging you. Mine is at a 7.
I'm highly interested, but I don't have every character or line memorized, I still need to look up if something is canon or not, and yes, I have had a little Star Wars movie fatigue recently. But I still go see every movie in theaters and watch at least one episode of every series ... such as, ahem, "The Mandalorian."
Take a second, and give your Star Wars fandom a grade. Have the number? Good.
This review is for the 3-7s out there. Definitely not the 8-10s or the 0-2s. Here's why:
If you are a 0-2, then you're not really a Star Wars fan. Maybe you're a big video game fan and you want to try Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order for the storytelling, mechanics, gameplay and graphics. Here's what I can tell you: The graphics are gorgeous. The game looks terrific. If you are going to pick this one up, I would suggest, just like the game does as you set it up, to play with a controller, even on PC.
If you are an 8-10, you're going to play this game anyway, even if you don't like video games. You love Star Wars, you devour everything Star Wars, you chug Bantha milk and eat your pears with a fork and knife (sliced with the force, obviously).
But this review is for my 3-7s out there.
We've all been waiting for a lore-heavy, single-player Star Wars video game for a while now, and this is definitely it. One of our video producers, Jarrett Hobbs, who has played 33 Star Wars video games several times over, and is therefore a qualified expert, had this initial thought after playing the game: "This is definitely the most significant single-player Star Wars experience since Force Unleashed 1, which was released over a decade ago."
There are new characters you're introduced to, including the main one you control, Cal Kestis (played by Cameron Monaghan), who is another Jedi who is somehow still alive after basically all the good guys got wiped out in "Revenge of the Sith" (a top-five Star Wars film in the entire series by the way, dont @ me). This game takes place five years later, a dark time for the Jedi, trying to regroup and rebuild.
Fallen Order hooks you in early. I am willing to set aside what I perceive to be slight difficulties and inconveniences in control movement flow, because the story is immediately compelling and interesting. The game isn't a complete open world-style game; it's more God of War than Breath of the Wild. And that's OK, because there's still plenty to do. And as you play the game, you can just imagine all the new action figures and Funko Pops you'll be buying at the next Star Wars Celebration.
The mechanics aren't A+, the climbing can get a little wonky sometimes and you have to get used to the lightsaber fighting movements (but come on, lightsaber fighting for anyone 0-10 is still amazing), but overall, for the several hours I have played, the game is fun and would rate decent no matter what IP was attached to it. The game has great Dark Souls vibes to it; if you loved that game, you will very much enjoy this.
One thing that struck me about the game early on was the music. The score seemed Star Wars adjacent, and though you don't get the iconic theme at the beginning, you still get mood-setting background tunes to keep the blood pumping on your journey.
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order also benefited from expectations being pretty low for fans of Star Wars video games. For as iconic as the movies are -- one of the greatest movie franchises of all time -- the same reverence isn't given to the video games.
There are some solid ones (like the 2005 Star Wars Battlefront 2, which was well received), more bad ones (like the 2017 Star Wars Battlefront 2, which had a rocky start and its share of controversies) and many others that are best described as ... just "good." But that's the challenge with Star Wars. "Good" isn't good enough.
Electronic Arts is at the midpoint of its 10-year Star Wars licensing deal, and Jedi: Fallen Order can certainly be in the conversation of best game in the Star Wars series based on its attention to detail, scenery and depth alone.
The game has stiff competition in the video game world this week: Death Stranding, created by revered video game designer Hideo Kojima, hit shelves on Friday. Norman Reedus ("The Walking Dead") stars in the game, which has been heralded for its attention to detail and out-of-the-box thinking and design (so far, it's been called, at worst, "the prettiest delivery-service game ever made"). The highly anticipated Pokemon: Sword and Shield also release on Nov. 15. That's a clash of attention between passionate fan bases right there. And don't forget about Jumanji: The Video Game (OK, I didn't even know it existed until I looked up "games out Nov. 15, 2019," but here we are).
So, in the end, is it worth picking up? This 7 says yes.
Some tips and tricks to start your Jedi journey:
Play this game with a controller. The difference is night and day. I played for five hours with keyboard and mouse, and it really took away from the experience. This game was 100% built for maximum enjoyment with the sticks. If you have a PC, it's very easy to pair a PS4 controller.
Practice the timing on parrying attacks and deflecting shots. Especially in the opening scene, with Stormtroopers blasting at you from everywhere, learning block timing so those shots beeline directly back at them is key. Don't forget that Cal blocks from all angles, so even if you aren't facing an enemy, but are blocking, you will not take damage on many attacks (blaster shots, for example).
You're able to get a lightsaber early, and combat mechanics are communicated well, so you feel like you are ready for battle when you are "released" into the worlds ahead of you.
Run! This seems silly to say, but you do have the ability to sprint. Especially when you are traversing a long path -- go faster! Push down the D-pad on your controller or hold shift on keyboard, and you'll zoom your way to your destination at warp speed (see what I did there?).
If you've been playing games like this for a while, use your intuition. You may recognize puzzles or mechanics that look familiar. The wall jump is a perfect example: You're going to see the texture of a certain wall for the first time and think to yourself, "I should be able to scale this," but you can't yet because you haven't acquired that skill. Trust your gut. There's enough freedom for you to be able to explore and discover.