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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is finally here and we get to review it on the PlayStation 5 to see if it can match or better its predecessor.

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

When Respawn unleashed its first Star Wars Jedi game into the world it came as somewhat a surprise – a highly pleasant one, at that.

The combination of Uncharted-style action-adventuring and Dark Souls-esque combat was refreshing for the franchise, while the lead character of Cal Kestis was so well-fleshed out he instantly became a canon favourite. Some would even like him to star in a Disney+ TV series or movie.


Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an excellent sequel that does have some rough edges – not least with its frame rates – but still manages to keep you hooked to the very end.


A sequel was inevitable, therefore. And, in Survivor, we have one that takes everything that was good and great about the original and adds layers of enhancements just about everywhere. It’s not perfect – with some technical hitches and mishaps – but it’s a cracking journey nonetheless.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

For starters, Kestis is now a full-fledged Jedi, one that’s aware of his abilities and place in the universe. That means you start with a healthy selection of skills and talents from the off. That’s not to say you won’t discover more as the game progresses (much more, in fact), but the opening level on Coruscant serves partly as a tutorial to remind you of lightsaber use and platforming capabilities.

It soon becomes apparent that, like the first game, this is jam-packed with collectables, Easter eggs and secrets, many of which you can only reach on returning to a world later. It is also clear that the open world sections are larger and more sprawling.

You still have your ship, the Mantis, and that will come in use when you need to travel between planets, but there is another base you will become fully acquainted with too – in the shape of a cantina on the largest of the playable worlds, Koboh. As with the Mantis in Fallen Order, it has several areas and non-essential homes to collectables – such as a roof garden for picked-up plants – and serves as a decent place to get background and side missions. However, the main game plays similarly to the first in that you’ll spend much of your time traversing largely linear mission paths and taking on swathes of enemies.

If you strike me down

Thankfully, combat is a joy each and every time. As you progress, you will unlock new lightsaber stances and can choose between a couple of them during battle. A particular favourite is the one that introduces a blaster, allowing Kestis to slash and shoot his foes in equal measure. It’s hardly Jedi stuff (as someone notes in the excellent script), but very effective.

Stances can also be improved through the skill tree, which works as before. You can adjust your character sheet through experience gained when you hit meditation points, while Jedi powers and general wellbeing can also be enhanced this way, too.

As before, a fight is fast, frenetic and largely relies on combos. It again owes much to the Souls games, but feels less isolating this time around and more fluid – a bit like a Batman: Arkham game. There are incredibly tough bosses to get to grips with, especially as you reach the game’s conclusion, but even those sit comfortably on the side of fun than frustration.

The rest of the gameplay offers a cunning blend of exploration and puzzle solving, which never gets tiring. And, Respawn is a master of dropping the right skill unlocks at the right time, just to give you extra challenges just when you want them.

Great kid, now don’t get cocky

Perhaps most impressively improved between outings are the visuals – Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is simply stunning. From the neon-lit streets and high-rise towers of Corsucant to the swamp lands on Koboh, the game brims with detail and eye candy. This is partly thanks to there being no last-gen versions to hold back the vision this time around. And, that means we also get some ray-tracing properties switched on by default – regardless of whether you are playing in performance or fidelity mode.

The main difference between the two options is frame rate, with the performance mode aiming for 60 frames-per-second, albeit at the sacrifice of resolution. The other mode focuses on a sharper, more detailed image, but at 30fps.

Sadly, frame rates aren’t always stable no matter which you choose, with the performance mode suffering from screen tearing and frame drops during the most intensive scenes (at the time of writing, at least). That’s on the PlayStation 5 edition we played, but we also heard that the Xbox Series X game has similar pitfalls. The PC edition is worse still, it is said, but as we’ve not seen it, we’ll not comment.

Still, the rest of the game more than makes up for some technical hitches. The voice acting is superb (as is the motion capture) and the soundtrack is as cinematic as it comes – not least if you have a decent surround sound system. It’s an impressive package all round.

Verdict

There’s no doubt the triple-A credentials of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor – it sits right up there with some of our other favourite action-adventures, like Uncharted 4, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. There’s plenty to see and do, and it wholly justifies its admittedly lofty cover price.

There are some glitches and graphical wobbles that prevent the game from being at the very top of the tree, but enough boxes are ticked that it very much left us wanting more. Indeed, we’re keen to see what Disney does with Cal Kestis going forward as we would happily lap up a Disney+ series. Here’s keeping both our lightsabers crossed.

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Rik Henderson
Rik Hendersonhttp://gameslifer.com
Rik is a professional journalist with more than 35 years experience across online, magazines and television broadcasting. As well as the creator of GamesLifer, he is the News Editor of T3.com, while his previous work includes stints as editor and group editor on several monthlies and weeklies covering video games and technology. He has also been a series producer on daily and weekly TV shows, and has presented and guested on multiple TV series too, including GamesMaster, Games World, Game Over, Virtual World of Sport, Live TV, Greatest Christmas TV Ads, and The Apprentice.
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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor is an excellent sequel that does have some rough edges - not least with its frame rate performance - but still manages to keep you hooked to the very end.Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review