My favourite bit of the Star Wars films was probably all those bits where the characters went sliding down a loooooooong slope. Because that happened a lot in the Star Wars films didn't it? Sometimes it felt like you couldn't go five minutes without Luke Skywalker or one of the other characters sliding down a slope.
They would stand at the top of a loooooooong slope, and then - whoosh! - off they'd go, sliding down it, unable to stop. It happened so often I don't know why they didn't just be done with it and call it Slide Wars!!!!!!
Sometimes though... sometimes in the Star Wars films... there'd also be some big, balloon-like plants, wouldn't there? There would be these plants, and the characters would jump on these plants... and they'd going... BOIIIIINGGGGG!!! And they'd be flung around the place, from one springy alien plant to another, like they were pinballs, or, I dunno... trapped in one of the lesser 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games.
Certainly, these are two of the main things people remember about the Star Wars films: the sliding, and the boing-y plants. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo leaping around, sliding and being catapulted about the place.
At least... this is what I am led to believe based upon Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Because everything is canon now, Fallen Order is set a few years after the Empire rose to power, and almost all the Jedi were wiped out. Even the younglings!!!
You play former Jedi apprentice Cal Kestis, who has been laying low, but gets lured back into the fight, inevitably, after he accidentally reveals his true nature during a real bad accident at the scrapyard where he works. It's an effective opening, and the early stages of your journey promise much... but shortly afterwards it kind of falls apart.
In many respects, Fallen Order plays exactly how you expect it to; you gradually upgrade your powers and lightsaber until you can push and pull things with The Force, or throw your blade at enemies. You know the sort of thing: we saw all this in Force Unleashed, and countless other Star Wars games.
However, what really surprised me is a) The toughness of the combat (which requires more thought and strategy than the average button-masher), and that b) The structure is very Metroid-y, with more than a hint of Dark Souls. Saving happens at meditation points, where you can upgrade skills, and choose whether to replensh your health - though doing so causes all enemies in the area to respawn. And talking of respawning... the loading times when you die could be shorter. Aren't we meant to be past long loading times by now? It's like including a choke on a new model of car.
Throw into that some Uncharted-like platforming, Tomb Raider-style tomb puzzles, and a story that makes several noble attempts to get you to care, a la The Last of Us, and you get a game that really wants to be taken seriously as a proper, single-player, experience.
Unfortuantely, the non-linear structure - which emphasises exploration and secret areas over plot momentum - serves to undermine a lot of that. There's no fast travel (though you can unlock shortcuts within areas), which makes returning to the same locations an enormous chore. Chiefly because the new areas tend to be on the far side of the levels.
The holographic map you're provided with is often less than clear, and more than once I found myself utterly lost within the massive, labyrinthine locations, trying to make my way back to somewhere I'd been before (and access new areas using my recently-learned skills, and newly acquired gear). I even got lost trying return to my ship, which acts as the game's hub.
Ultimately, what this does is make it all feel like a bit of a Frankenstein's monster of a game - stealing elements from other successful franchises, and just bolting them all together without thinking whether any of them are designed to work in unison.
There are other issues with Fallen Order: as well as it being short on original ideas, it strives for a grounded universe through its plot - which, when you do get a cutscene, is generally fine - but then undermines all that with the aforementioned Sonic The Hedgehog-like mechanics. Is it a serious action game, or a whimsical platform romp? It doesn't seem to know.
At no point does it do a good job of selling the feeling that anywhere is a real place; you're always reminded that your character exists in a video game. Levels are overpopulated with monsters that home in on you with deadly intent, just so you can have something to kill. Puzzles have you manipulating giant metal orbs onto switch plates, in the way that you only ever get in video games.
Plus it's full of inconsistencies; some doors can be blown open using The Force, while others are simply set-dressing. It's frustrating, and conveys a sense that its creators didn't have a clear vision for what it was meant to be. The feeling I was left with is that while it is clearly the result of a lot of hard work... it still somehow feels rushed.
Given that the appeal of George Lucas's Star Wars universe had to do with it feeling real, this seems to fundamentally misunderstand the appeal of Star Wars. It strives for scale over detail, but it was the detail of Star Wars that I fell in love with; I don't need every location to be enormous. Sometimes I just want to wander through an alien marketplace.
What makes all of this more frustrating, is that Amy Hennig's cancelled Star Wars game seemed to offer precisely the game I wanted this to be.
A bigger issue still is that too many of the levels feel the same; it's all rocky areas, and caves, or jungles. Nothing really stands out as either being particularly Star Wars-y (save for a few set-piece moments, such as when you get to climb up an AT-AT walker) - just lots of generic-looking tombs, which are rendered with visuals and art design that is some leagues behind the best-looking games.
Now... for all that... I didn't hate it. I didn't hate it, because I like Star Wars, and Fallen Order managed to tell a story that I was intrigued by. For the reason alone, I forgave a lot of stuff that I otherwise wouldn't have done, were it not for the Star Wars trousers it wore.
Ultimately, though, if I put my fandom aside... Fallen Order is a reasonable game, but far from being a great single-player Star Wars experience. Consequently, it's not really a game worthy of the license. There are better third-person action games available, games with better graphics, and games with a better sense of their own identity.
To be fair to them, they've thrown everything at it; there's plenty of content here (you can even find the parts to customise your lightsaber), and plenty of challenge, even on the default setting. Unfortunately, the reality is that Fallen Order scrapes by on the strength of its license alone.
SCORE: 1138 out of 1977