Dark Souls meets the Dark Side

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Star Wars is one of the first films I ever watched and loved as a kid, so naturally I felt my eyes lighting up the first time I ever saw the Atari arcade game in the old pier whilst on holiday at Weston- super-Mare. I was 4 years old at the time (early 80s) and  my parents noticed my fixated glare on this game cabin with an illustration of Darth Vader plastered all over it. They sat me down inside it and inserted 10p. The music , the sound FX of R2-D2 screaming and the cockpit controls was all just too amazing. I didn’t really know what I was doing and didn’t quite grasp the fact that the green thing that I was moving on the screen wasn’t a spaceship but was in fact the crosshair sights of the X Wing. But the Force was with me and I reached the trench level and then….. it was Game Over. I threw a bit of a tantrum and wouldn’t get out of the cockpit. My mother, to the disdain of my father, inserted another 10p and I had another go. Jedi mind trick, must have been……

I’m not ashamed to admit that  the lure of Star Wars has always reeled me in throughout the rest of my life, especially with video games. Dark Forces, Shadows of the Empire, Rogue Squadron, Mysteries of the Sith, Battlefront….I could go on. And until I watched the latest film in January 2020, I used to enjoy the latest movie installments.

Lets face it….It was a bit shit wasn’t it, The Rise of  Skywalker?

Throughout the entire movie I sensed the script writers had literally lost the plot and made up the film as they went along. I mean yeah, good idea, lets just bring the Emperor back from the dead by latching onto the Darth Plagus myth from Revenge of the Sith. Yeah, maybe that will work?

But no, it didn’t work. Which has left those heathens at Disney with egg on their faces.

I just hope that the failure of the latest movie doesn’t bore people away from Star Wars now, which would be quite sad, since there have been some great spin off films and games created as a result of the popularity of the franchise. The problem is, there’s been that many now that’s its hard to keep up or remember them all. More importantly the latest films have rendered the events of Return of the Jedi as completely meaningless and all for nothing. It also confirmed my greatest fear; that Disney had in fact turned one of my first on-screen childhood heroes, Luke Skywalker, into a complete coward. A great character completely decimated by Disneys unimaginative writers, completely unhinged and distanced from one of the most die hard fan bases in the world. We were all looking forward to seeing Luke leading the charge in his X-Wing against a new enemy but we didn’t get that did we? We didn’t really learn much about the new Luke as a Jedi Master and new hope for the galaxy. Instead we learn that he exiled himself to some oceanic island near a magical tree and drank blue milk from the tits of a 4 titted creature. What a waste.

What’s more illogical about all of this is that Luke Skywalker grew up as a pauper on a farm, travelled across the galaxy with a smuggler and a former Jedi Master to rescue a princess. He blows up a huge space station. He fights his father, gets his hand chopped off, picks himself up and confronts him a second time and now….after all that, Disney decide to turn him into a wimp by running off to an island, all because his geeky looking nephew wants a bit of the old Dark Side!?

But I digress. Please allow me to discuss the latest video game;  Jedi Fallen Order…….

Its a single player game set 5 years after the events of Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith. It introduces us to a young ginger kid called Cal Kestis. It turns out that this carrot topped Herbet is in fact a former Padawan learner who managed to evade Palpatines Jedi purge for 5 years and has remained anonymous ever since, working as a salvage scrap worker on the planet Bracca. All is well until he uses the Force one day in order to save his friend from falling to his death. This use of the Force is witnessed by a nearby Imperial Probe droid and is reported back to the Imperial Inquisitors, a small task squad within the Empire who are trained in the Jedi arts and are hunting down the last remaining Jedi. Before being beaten in a dual with the Seventh Sister, Cal is rescued by a former Jedi Knight, Cere Junda , who interjects Cals impending annihilation and he jumps on board a space ship shes chartered called the Stinger Mantis. Captained by an ugly 4 armed pilot called Greez Dritus, Cere finds herself and Cal on a mission to find a Holocube which contains the locations of all Force sensitive  children across the galaxy. The idea is to locate all of these children and train a new generation of Jedi……….

But let me dispense with the story, what about the gameplay? Is the Force strong with this game?

Well its certainly worth a play through but it is by far one of the most annoying games I’ve ever played. Its also one of the most taxing and difficult Star Wars games I’ve played. You will require the patience of a Jedi to get through it. If you want the extra challenge you can adjust the difficulty but you will not receive any extra achievement trophy for doing so. On the upside, due to the games difficulty, its left me with a sense of accomplishment that I haven’t felt since completing Bloodborne.

Most Star Wars games have never really mastered the use of the lightsabres. Get the lightsabres duals mastered and then any game developer is on to a winner. I remember playing Jedi Power Battles on the PS1 many years ago and at the time it was the best attempt made to bring the sabre fights into play. You could even deflect laser bolts which had never been seen in a Star Wars game before. It wasn’t the greatest game but left open a niche in the Star Wars game market that required improvement. For me, this is one of the most successful elements of Fallen Order. The use of the lightsabre is predominant throughout the game and offers a great sense of hack and slash satisfaction. But like I said, mastering it is very challenging in this game, especially when you meet Purge Troopers with electric batons. Timing the defensive parry correctly is key, otherwise before you know it, its game over. The best fun to be experienced in the this game is when Cal comes up against a full squad of Stormtroopers, as it gives the player multiple options to deflect blaster bolts from some, whilst simultaneously slashing others up or even Force pushing them off cliffs. Cal relies solely on the use of Jedi powers and the lightsabre which works wonders during the boss battles. The problem is there aren’t enough boss battles and its not until near the end of the game where all of Cals new powers work to amazing fruition.

Fallen Order certainly has the “Souls” game feel to it, so the enemies you kill will reappear again if you save down the game to re heal or meditate at one of the Save points. This can come across as a bit laborious to some gamers. It also doesn’t quite work in a Star Wars game. Ghosts and spirits being able to regenerate and resurrect them selves is easily explainable in fantasy games such as Dark Souls, but Stormtroopers reappearing in the same spot, not quite so. Maybe a “call to reinforcements” would have worked better rather than referring to it as respawning. The game writers didn’t think of that did they? (They should go and work for sodding Disney). You will also have the opportunity to recover your lost XPs from enemies if you die, similar to the Souls games. Fallen Order also has a  Tomb Raider feel to it during certain parts of the game, so again, if you don’t like those type of games then you may want to think about something else.

The planet Bogano came across as a bit jolly and Super Nintendo-ey whereas Dathomir was just uninviting and dull. I really didn’t take to the undead army and cultists either. The best levels were Zeffo (especially exploring the crashed ship) and Kashyyyk since they had more of the Star Wars feel although I would have thought that the developers would have put more effort into the Wookiees, who looked absolutely dreadful in this game. I thought the Jedi Temple on Ilum was done splendidly and the underwater base finale with Vader was fantastic. Its just a shame that we couldn’t have had more levels with a Star Wars DNA embedded into it. There was too much fighting beasts and insects throughout the game for my liking. More lightsabers duals and more slaughtering of Stormtroopers is what it really should be about. The AT AT sequence had great promise but didn’t last long enough. And spiders…..why weren’t we told about giant spiders? I thought Skyrim was bad enough.

The main irritant throughout this game for me was the mud / ice slide sequences. They appeared to be full of glitches which totally ruined the flow and fluidity of the action sequences. The skitty and under reactive controls meant that some jumps had to be performed over and over again to the point where I wanted to put my foot through the screen. Furthermore, the main challenge in the missions would sometimes be attempting to navigate your way back to the start of the level to reach your ship in order to end the mission. This was sometimes very time consuming and frustrating since its very easy to lose your bearings on each map.

But what about the main character Cal Cestis? Well I think he’s a bit dull and doesn’t have quite the wit you would want from a protagonist but he has the determination and shrewdness that you would expect from a Jedi . Its not until he’s paired up with the orphaned droid, BD-1, that we see his true self come out. He comes across as the quiet underdog kid at the back of the classroom who has a heart of gold but not many friends. But in this adventure Cal does make new friends but the only problem is, is that their motives weren’t entirely convincing in the game. Cere had the charisma of a probing head mistress as opposed to a wise Jedi Master and all the New York taxi driver style humour attempted by the 4 armed guy just didn’t quite work for me either. One of the main themes of any Star Wars story is mostly about friendship, and with the exception of Cal and BD-1, the narrative of the story failed to deliver any true convincing bonds of friendship  for me…well, not until the end of the game anyway. Cere and Greez came across on screen as a bit too selfish and untrustworthy for my liking. And as for the witch from Dathomir who Cal pals up with, she had the appeal of a wet fish.

One of the key features of any Star Wars film or game is usually the music. The background music was sometimes uplifting and chirpy, which was a great accompaniment to Cal and BD-1s adventure. It also had a hint of sorrow embedded within, which splendidly supported the sense of loss and tyranny being executed  throughout the galaxy by the Empire. The boss fight music had an unnerving and perilous tone which again set the scenes well. In fact all of the games music, sound FX and cut scenes along with voice acting gets the thumbs up from me.

I had mixed views regarding the Easter Eggs found throughout the game. Whilst it was fun to find different materials to custom design my own lightsabre, I felt that some of the alternative ponchos and costumes were just plain dull or awful. Some of them were bright turquoise or pink and looked like unwanted garments that only skint teenage girls would buy off the discount rail at New Look.  The alternative coats of paint that could be applied to the Mantis didn’t really make much of a difference either. It seemed as if they were just put there just to give the player something to collect for the sake of it.

Would I play this again? Yes for a sense of challenge but I certainly wouldn’t rush back to it. Its nice to see a fresh attempt made to bring a single player campaign game back to Star Wars and would be interested in pursuing any follow on stories. The ending was kind of rushed in my opinion and there’s also the risk of having to replace my TV after I’ve smashed it due to anger. And we all know what happens with anger…..it leads to hate, which leads to the dark side. But then again, a Dark Souls style of game has the tendency to bring out the worst in players.

Is it worth a full 50 quid? No. But if you wait until this drops to around 25 then yes, give it a go whilst waiting for this bloody lockdown to end. And who knows there may be some decent DLC in the pipeline.

Play safe everyone……. and May the Force be with You. (I’ve always wanted a legitimate reason to write those words)

The Centrist – May 2020

 

 

 

 

 

music

platform

characters some a bit bland

level design

 

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