EA hit the jackpot when Disney gave them the key to the Star Wars vault but as we all know, EA haven’t done the best job with the beloved series. In 2019, Respawn Entertainment (Apex Legends, Titanfall, Call of Duty) released ‘Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order’ to well deserved fanfare. It was a great adventure that respected the series and went against all the awful business practices EA preached and proved that EA had studios that loved Star Wars at their disposal. Fans have waited with bated breath for the sequel and now we get to look at Respawn’s next big hit.
After altering the fate of the Jedi, Cal Kestis has separated from his crew and formed another to take the fight to the Empire. After five long years, Cal is becoming frustrated with his lack of progress in the face of the ever expanding Empire. After a mission goes south and results in several causalities, Cal flees to Koboh, to reunite with old friend Greez. Greez points Cal to a nearby cave and inside he finds ancient Jedi tech that prompts him to travel further into the planet. He comes across a Jedi sleeping in a bacta tank. He awakens the Jedi in order to find a new ally but finds the Jedi has already fallen to the dark side. Barely escaping with his life, Cal has a new enemy, but has learned of safe place far away from the gaze of the Empire, a place for the Jedi to hide.
The opening hours of the story really drill in the fact the Cal is always trying his best and things just aren’t going his way. The Jedi are on the back foot and Cal is struggling between his vows as a Jedi and his need to fight the Empire, the story does a great job highlighting that dichotomy and you can’t help but feel for the guy. Once he lands on Koboh and gets more involved with the older cast and new allies, he is concerned that following the Jedi code may not be the right path. I wish the game went a little further with this but it’s at least an interesting element to the plot. I really appreciated that Jedi Survivor elevates the secondary cast as well, everyone is given plenty of time to get their opinions across and it grounds the entire story. The downside is the actual plot itself, it isn’t as interesting as it should be. The High Republic is something I’m not familiar with, so it was neat to see these new elements added to the plot, but unfortunately, the beat to beat moments in the story are a little underwhelming, despite the great care taken with the characters.
Fallen Order took the approach of the modern Tomb Raider games and applied a Star Wars coat on top of it and it worked perfectly, and of course Jedi Survivor follows that. It has the Metroidvania elements I love, having to return to places with new traversal abilities, it has the flashy combat and all the collectibles you could want. Level design is far vaster than the previous game and that can be a bit of detriment, at times the game is a little too big for its own good, a personal preference sure, but I would have preferred a slightly slimmer level layout.
The flashy combat is as janky as the first game, but it looks awesome and there’s plenty of depth to sink your teeth into. There’s a bigger focus on lightsaber stances and they all have their strengths and weaknesses and there’s an expanded set of force powers. It’s all good stuff, it can get a bit clunky at times, but it never felt bad. The previous game suffered from a clunky traversal system and that creeps up again, sometimes Cal just doesn’t do as he’s told. This is made more frustrating by the sheer amount of art assets on screen, it can be impossible to tell what’s actually interactable, leading to multiple accidental deaths.
The previous game had lightsaber parts, poncho colours and skins for BD-1 and the ship and that was it. This time there are all sorts of hairstyles, facial hair, clothing and individual parts for BD-1, as well as a much deeper lightsaber customisation system. These are all cosmetic collectibles and coupled with perks and health upgrades tucked away, there’s a lot of incentive to explore. It’s a strong gameplay loop, though it feels a little bloated. Koboh is home to a cantina and as you explore and progress, it is steadily populated and new elements are unlocked, this is the best part of the expanded gameplay and makes the small grind worth it. It’s not exactly Dragon Age: Inquisition or anything, but it’s a nice feature to have.
On a visual front, the art department at Respawn have outdone themselves. Every instance where art is concerned is A+, lighting is great, sound effects are all great and the score is very good, if a little weaker than the first game. Every single voice performance was great. The bad news? The game plays like molasses. Framerate slows to a crawl, audio is completely out of sync and there’s more bugs than I would normally look past. This is on Xbox Series X’s performance mode and while a couple of patches have helped, it’s simply not good enough.
It’s getting really frustrating now. I’ll lay it out right here, I refuse to believe Respawn would put this much effort and love into a game, for it to release in an unacceptable state. This game was rushed out by people who don’t care about the project just profits and Respawn’s credibility has suffered the consequence, it’s not just a common occurrence now, it’s the rule that a game comes out broken. There’s a lot of great stuff here and the work Respawn have done should be respected, but I can’t recommend it in the release window and absolutely not on PC.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor was reviewed using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer after the release of the first 3 patches.
Publisher: EA Developer: Respawn Entertainment Release Date: 28th April 2023 Reviewed On: Xbox Series X