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Platform: XB

Genre: RPG

Publisher: Microsoft

Developer: BioWare Corp.

ETA: Fall 2004


Related Links:

Review: Neverwinter Nights (PC)

Review: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (PC)

Review Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic (XB)





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Jade Empire


jade empire xbox preview           jade empire xbox preview


Hey!  BioWare’s making a new RPG!


That should be enough to get every RPG fan chomping at the bit – except if don't own an Xbox, in which case you’ll probably just gnash your teeth.  Jade Empire, predicted to ship Fall 2004, will be Xbox exclusive.  But let’s take a look at the facts as they stand now, direct from BioWare:


[Horn tooting ahead!] Jade Empire is a single player action-RPG created by BioWare Corp., the commercially successful and critically acclaimed RPG developer of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, and the Baldur’s Gate series.  Developed with a second-generation Xbox engine, players can expect a stunning visual and gameplay experience.  Jade Empire will be published by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively for the Xbox video game system with a planned Fall 2004 release.



Innovative fighting system – As players journey through the Jade Empire, they can upgrade their starting combat style or learn entirely new styles, depending on their gameplay preferences.  Gamers can learn more than 30 different fighting styles, each with unique strengths and weaknesses, including martial arts styles (Centipede, Mantis), magic styles (Paralyzing Palm, Fire), and weapon styles (Twin Axes, Halberd, and improvised weapons like chairs).  Each fighting style is a package of up to seven moves, each with their own speed, power, and form that 



ranges from punches and kicks to weapon strikes, mystical powers, and even transformations into supernatural monsters.  Combat is fast-paced martial arts action characterized by rapid style changes as players and enemies alike seek out their opponent’s weaknesses.


Roleplay as a martial arts master – Jump into the story right away with a pregenerated martial artist, or create a custom character tailored to specific play preferences.  Each character has a unique appearance, custom voice set, and a powerful combination of fighting styles and ability scores.  Focus on strength, speed, or magic, or build a character with a balance of all three.  As their characters progress, players can focus on a narrow channel of fighting styles and become dominant in these forms, or study a wide variety of styles adaptable to many combat situations.  Players must choose whether to act for good or evil, and their decisions have consequences that precede them throughout the land, and impact their game experience.


Epic story set in mythical China – Set in the ancient, mysterious world of mythical China, players train under their master’s watchful eye and learn powerful martial arts and mystical powers.  When danger threatens, players travel across the world, from the harsh mountains of the Land of Howling Spirits to the lush gardens of the Imperial City.  In their adventures, players face powerful human and supernatural foes, learn exotic and magical martial arts, and discover the darkest secrets of the world.  Only by mastering the greatest fighting styles and defeating the most powerful enemies will players earn their place as a master of martial arts in the world of Jade Empire.


Rally followers to your cause – The Jade Empire is filled with complex and fascinating characters.  Some are simple citizens of the Empire, but not all sit passively by.  Many powerful figures have interests in the players’ activities and quests.  Some are enemies, but other may join the players’ cause and act as loyal agents.  Players can send these agents on special missions across the game world.  Each agent has a different personality and skills, requiring players to think carefully about which one to send on each mission.  Some problems call for strength and courage, others diplomacy, and still others for stealth and subterfuge.  Players must decide carefully who to send, since the price for failure is high.


Info from the Official Site:

Jade Empire uses an entirely new graphics engine and a new sound engine, both designed to take advantage of the unique power and capabilities of the Xbox console. The graphics engine has more than twice the number of render paths as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and the player character models have three times more polys than those in KotOR. Other enhancements include physics-based cloth, rim lighting, and an entirely new skeleton built to accommodate motion captured animation. The sound engine is designed to produce the most cinematic experience possible, and puts incredible control in the hands of our audio engineers. (For more check the official site at: Jade Empire.)


jade empire xbox preview           jade empire xbox preview


On an accompanying sheet there’s reference to Jade Empire’s action as “reminiscent of the frenzied pace of Hong Kong martial arts cinema.”


Xbox Live capabilities? BioWare's "looking into the possibility."


Besides the framework and some outlines, we don’t have much to go on except BioWare’s past projects.  BioWare has a legacy – if I can use the term “legacy” for a company established in 1995 – that includes such titles as Neverwinter Knights, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and MDK 2.  So, the wait for more details begins…


- Omni

(October 1, 2003)


(*Jade Empire is in no way affiliated with Armchair Empire.)




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