It’s amazing how much a simple, fourteen-minute gameplay trailer can tell you about the latest upcoming title. Everybody is excited to have a legitimate Star Wars campaign to play through, and we’ll be examining what should be tickling our Star Wars bones and what should actually have us concerned about the upcoming title, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order by Respawn Entertainment. Despite some potential backlash from a few of my editors, I think the best way to analyze the trailer is to break it into parts and put large headings above each section I want to talk about.
As far as the placement of this in the Star Wars universe goes, the game is considered canon and takes place during and directly following the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The infamous “Order 66” occurs as one of the events in the game, to give you a better idea. For the true Star Wars nerds out there, we’ll go even further. The game is set around the year 19 Before the Battle of Yavin (BBY). How far the game’s story will branch outside of that year is unknown. You play as Cal Kestis, a padawan spared during the purge of the Jedi upon the execution of Order 66. You follow him through a coming-of-age story as he becomes a true Jedi Knight and aims to take back the galaxy.
From what we saw in the gameplay trailer, the actual story doesn’t get many additions. We do see Saw Gerrera leading a group of rebels into an imperial sap refinery on Kashyyyk, the home planet of the wookiees. Here, wookiees have been enslaved by the Empire and forced to do manual labor. Based on the Star Wars timeline, it’s highly likely that Gerrera’s group is part of the Partisans, a rebel militia formed by Gerrera around the same time as Order 66. During this time, the Partisans are working closely with the Alliance to fight off the Galactic Empire.
Other than this, there aren’t any details beyond what we already know about the game. However, from a critical standpoint, we get a decent look at the dialogue we can expect. It all seems a little clunky. Both the acting and the dialogue writing seem painfully average considering the potential that this game has. Should we just accept that all the dialogue is going to be terrible? Of course not, but what we saw today was less than impressive. We’ve come to expect more from the acting in our games these days, and while the dialogue certainly won’t be a deal breaker, it’s concerning how plastic it feels. Simple lines like, “Yeah, better do this by the books,” and “You just wanted to turn that cutter on,” fall flat. Hopefully the dialogue is better in the important cutscenes throughout the game.
Holy crap! If there’s one thing that’s important to anything Star Wars, it’s sound. The sounds of blasters, lightsabers, droids, and TIE fighters are so unique, and what we saw from EA today captures it all perfectly. The only sounds I personally found a bit iffy are the lightsaber being activated and deactivated. They don’t quite do it for me, but this is quite minuscule compared to the overall feel they captured.
The music is arguably the best part of the trailer. Click anywhere throughout the trailer and you’ll be greeted with a score that represents the Star Wars franchise to a tee. Composer Gordy Haab did a wonderful job imitating John Williams’ famous work. Much like Williams, Haab pays a lot of attention to the timing of the violins and flutes to direct the scene. It comes together in a beautiful symphony of suspense, action, and atmosphere.
This is the good stuff. This is basically what gameplay trailers are all about, and Respawn didn’t disappoint. The sheer variety of options when defending or attacking against your opponents is stunning. When watching the combat, it’s immediately very reminiscent of Insomniac’s Spider-Man from last year.
Lots of games will trend towards brute force when designing combat; players will have to simply hack and slash their ways through hordes of enemies in order to pass the level. In contrast, confrontations in Spider-Man and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order rely heavily on timing and patience as opposed to button mashing. This allows Respawn and the player to experiment with many different abilities and combos to find the best options against certain enemies in different environments. This also leaves the doors open for a wider array of combatants to learn how to defeat.
On that note, it’s exciting to see storm troopers dying after a single slash with a lightsaber. The ease at which you can kill them leads me to believe that while they are the most common enemy, they will not be the main focus of the fight, much like Spider-Man as well. Unfortunately, the game seems to take too much from Insomniac. I’m not a fan of the Spider-Man waves of enemies. Rather than designing sophisticated AI, Insomniac threw an overwhelming number of enemies at you over and over again across the whole game. This worked with the character Spider-Man because he’s known to be very fluid and flexible, but I’m not so sure about this concept in the context of Star Wars. To clarify, this fluidity allowed Spider-Man to logically weave his way through dozens of enemies at a time, but we see how as a Jedi, Cal doesn’t have that same mobility. He’s relatively slow, so it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to handle this mechanically.
Thankfully, visuals aren’t a huge deal for a Star Wars title. The value in the game franchise comes from the gameplay and mechanics. Is this the next Uncharted 4 in terms of graphics? No, but it’s no Bubsy 3D. Frankly, the most important portion of visuals is done well: facial animation. Award-winning? Probably not, but definitely fits the bill. The environments are also decently done, but the vegetation wasn’t very detailed or stunning, something I found a bit disappointing. I also took issue with visual cues being subtle or non-existent. In a game like this, the designers’ ability to direct the player’s attention greatly affects the final product. The gameplay we see is all done by somebody who attempted the level several times before and knows where to go. For somebody playing for the first time, it seems like it might be difficult to see which way to go at times. Respawn should’ve taken a longer look at the Uncharted series for some inspiration.
Comment below or hit us up on Twitter (@SickCritic) letting us know your thoughts on the gameplay.
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