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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

BioWare

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2005

 

 

- Streamlined character creation
- Great pacing
- Gorgeous – looking and sounding – game
- Good replay factor
- Just a fun way to kill a few hours

 

 

- Hearing fight fans complain, “The fighting is too simple!”

 

 

Review: Knights of the Old Republic II (Xbox)
Review: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)

Review: Mass Effect 2 (360)

 

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Jade Empire

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

jade empire xbox preview          jade empire xbox preview

 

It’s not easy to write a review of Jade Empire. For all its scope and depth it’s hard to be succinct and maintain a reign on the amount of detail and number of words so I don’t A) put you to sleep and B) give away all the details. (With apologies to IGN and GameSpot, I usually start nodding off halfway through their reviews.)

Jade Empire is a rollicking good role-playing game, set in a very fleshed-out game world, replete with fantastic gadgets, villains, hidden destinies, ghosts, comedy, giant toads and drama. Plus, it’s developed by BioWare one of the most respected developers in the industry and, like Pixar Studios, have yet to produce a real stinker. Go now. Buy. Enjoy.

If I’ve kept your attention this long I consider the review a success! Are you up for

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the challenge of learning more?

BioWare simplifies character creation down to picking one of six characters and allocating a few experience points. Over the course of the game your chosen character starts to reflect your choices but at the outset there’s no hemming and hawing as you try to choose the correct accessories.

After choosing a character you find yourself in a training

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school headed up by Master Li, a man with a past that’s about to catch up to him in a very spectacular manner. It’s in a very compressed time that the plot points – restless spirits, ancient secrets, etc. – are revealed and the journey commences, complete with a host of side quests and many twists and turns. However, you’ll really have to play through Jade Empire a couple of times to experience all there is to see and do.

The journey itself can be played (roughly) one of three ways: neutral, closed fist or open palm. (Basically indifferent, good, and evil.) Most of the choices that establish your path occur during conversations. Many times your character’s facial expressions are an indication of what path a particular response will push you toward, but the actual explanation of the paths is explained in-game with a bit of philosophy which I had to listen to a half-dozen times before I understood it. It is comparable to the Light/Dark balance seen with the Knights of the Old Republic games, but Jade Empire’s sliding scale isn’t so cut and dry – tough choices have to be made.

Easier to understand but maybe just as nuanced is the combat, which is definitely more about strategy and execution than straight-up button-mashing. I could repeat the manual’s description of how combat works – assigning combat styles and transformations to the D-pad, maintaining your chi, evading opponents while being locked onto them to perform some stylish and deadly martial arts moves – but I didn’t understand it until actually booting up the game and playing it. I won’t confuse the issue here, but I will say it does take some practice and as long as you think strategy and evasion (particularly when facing off against multiple foes) you’ll have much better chances at survival. Of course, leveling up your skills and character abilities doesn’t hurt either.

 

jade empire xbox review           jade empire xbox preview


Discovering how everything works in Jade Empire is a joy. Not just because the progressions is so much fun but also because the backdrops and characters are so lavishly detailed and lush. Although my TV at home is relatively small by today’s standards and at least six years old, I found myself just walking through some environments so I could check out the view. It’s gorgeous! (Graphics are not everything but Jade Empire backs those visuals with an engaging experience so I’ll allow myself to gush a little bit.) BioWare also comes through with an awesome audio package. Heck they even invented a language! Almost without exception each line of dialogue is delivered with perfect execution. The soundtrack also deserves some praise.

Jade Empire isn’t looking to convert role-playing fans to fighter fans or vice versa; they’ve created a game that should attract gamers, period. There will be those that claim the various genres are diluted somewhat so that they can be forced together – the fights aren’t up to “pure” fighting games – but even the (optional) overhead scrolling arcade sections (think of the old arcade classic, 1942) just seem to fit and compliment each other. Great fun, high replayability, good control, attention to detail, interesting story, high production values, and a great gameplay experience – Jade Empire comes recommended.

- Omni
(May 22, 2005)

 

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