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Jedi: Fallen Order is a Great Star Wars Game, But Struggles with Genre

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is already being canonized as one of the great Star Wars games of all time. The Game Rant review called it "a must-play Star Wars experience that is likely to become a game of the year contender not just for fans of the franchise, but for anyone who loves a unique and challenging action-adventure title."

While it takes influence from Dark Souls, Jedi: Fallen Order is more of a Metroidvania style action adventure game. It places importance on exploring, combat, and is full of upgrades that allow the player to access new areas and secrets, all while filling out a map and competition percentage. It is most similar to the Metroid Prime games, Retro Studios acclaimed trilogy of games that took Metroid into glorious 3D. In traveling to different planets, each with their own map, Jedi: Fallen Order is most reminiscent of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii. When compared to its peers in this regard, Fallen Order falls short in some disappointing ways.

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However, compared to any recent Star Wars game, Jedi: Fallen Order is unlike anything that's come around in a while. The last groundbreaking Star Wars game was Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and that game came out in 2005, but there's also no forgetting the Force Unleashed. Since the EA acquisition, though, Star Wars games have been focused on multiplayer. Even between the 2005 and the 2013 acquisition Star Wars slowed down on the games front, with Bioware's The Old Republic being the only thing that came close to telling a good Star Wars story in a game.

It would be fair to say Jedi: Fallen Order is one of the best Star Wars games when it comes to storytelling, but maybe not the absolute best. Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel are still the high watermark for storytelling in Star Wars games and are among the best Star Wars stories ever written. Fans of the old extended Star Wars universe also praise Dark Forces and the Jedi Knight sub-franchise that game spawned, and Kyle Katarn is without a doubt a hall of fame Star Wars character.

Compared to pretty much anything that's attempted it, most notably The Force Unleashed games for the Xbox 360 and PS3, the lightsaber combat in Fallen Order is the closest anyone has come to emulating what it would be like to fight as a Jedi. The combat is empowering and challenging, everything a Star Wars fan could dream of. The last time it was done this well was in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy back in 2003. From slaying beasts and deflecting blaster bullets to lightsaber duels with the Sith and the overall lightsaber combat, Jedi:Fallen Order is nothing short of perfection.

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As Metroidvania, though, as a game about uncovering the map and unlocking new abilities, Fallen Order has some shortcomings that hold it back compared to games in and inspired by the Metroid series. It lacks features that define the genre and make it so enduring.

One of the main complaints about the way Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order adapts the Metroidvania genre is in what it gives the players in exchange for exploring its world. Many of the chests that are found in the game contain cosmetic upgrades that have no impact on the game's progression. Yes, many of the more secret areas hidden behind puzzles will have a health or force upgrade, but most of the items in Fallen Order are cosmetic. This leaves players unsure of whether their exploration will be worth it, or if they will just be handed another poncho skin or lightsaber parts instead.

The areas themselves are well designed labyrinths with a series of unlocking shortcuts, but at multiple points the game makes the player backtrack through a significant portion of the game for the sake of getting back to the ship. There is no fast travel in Jedi: Fallen Order, so every level ends in this manner. Sometimes, this is easily accessible from a shortcut, but sometimes, players have to traverse their way back through a significant portion of an area. In these moments, the game shows its hand and reveals it itself as more of a linear experience than an open one, and it shows that it struggles as a Metroidvania game.

If not for its technical flaws, Fallen Order could be a game of the year contender and probably will be for many fans that love Star Wars. Hopefully, the prevalent texture pop in, load time, and frame-rate issues Fallen Order is currently suffering will be patched out in time, giving many fans an opportunity to wait and play the best version of a game that is well worth the time. However, compared to similar 3D Metroidvanias like Metroid Prime and Batman: Arkham Asylum, the game fails to properly reward the player for exploration and has a good deal of traversal time that feels like pure backtracking. Fans of a refined Metroid experience will be let down by how limited Jedi: Fallen Order ends up feeling.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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