Review by websterboy604

"Deep and shallow at the same time"

Jade Empire is an interesting little game. Following in the footsteps of KOTOR, it had quite a bit to live up to. So did it? Yes and no.

Story- Without spoiling anything, Jade Empire has a very good story. I was hooked the whole way through. The characters are very well developed, you can take your good or evil route (with results that greatly vary) and the game has a fair amount of replay value. The story will not leave you wanting more; it's great. There are many twists and turns that I never saw coming. When you think you've got it figured out, chances are you have not. One thing that I was disapointed about is that the story mentions certain areas of the empire that you never visit. Perhaps this is just to strenghen the mythology of the game, but perhaps these areas are mentioned because a sequel will be in store one of these days.

Graphics- This game looks great. It is much more artistic than Bioware's other games, and the framerate is smooth. The animation in battle is also fairly fluid. The scale of some of the towns is massive. The CGI cutscenes are of decent quality, but the things they portray are not the most interesting. There are a few cases of pop-up, etc, but the graphics on the whole are quite stunning for the Xbox. It's worth mentioning that the game loads fairly often, and for quite a long while. For those of you with ADD, I feel for you, but for the rest of us, get a glass of water, use the bathroom...patience is a virtue.

Sound/music- Both the music and the sound are great. I wasn't a fan of the dialogue that wasn't spoken in english (Jade Empire's "Old language"), but your party members as well as NPCs have great spoken dialogue. The actors definitely gave it their all. The music isn't very memorable, but it isn't bad by any respects.

Gameplay- Well here we go. Jade Empire has both deep and shallow aspects to its gameplay. Let's start with the good- The spoken dialogue as well as your dialogue options is great. Very well developed, and your ability to craft your own character to good or evil is quite entertaining. There are a few minigames, good ones at that, and quite a few optional missions. Some people complain that this game is too short. I completed this game for the first time within 30 hours, however I listened to all of the dialogue and did all of the optional quests. This goes to show that if you seek a quest longer than the supposed 10 or so hours, it is possible to stretch the game out longer. At no point does the game drag. The negatives to the gameplay are many. The way in which you level up is much too simple. You get some points to put into your three stats as well as points to customize your fighting styles. Not complex enough. The fighting itself might look fun from a spectator's point of view (my friend watched my play it and remarked how it looks so much more fluid than KOTOR), but the fighting is much too shallow. For one, the game is far too easy. Level up one good style and you've leveled up all of them. It's also annoying that the game places restrictions in certain areas like enemies that are immune to certain styles. If the game had been tough, then this aspect would only make it tougher. Since the game is so easy, this aspect makes it annoying. The fighting is hardly broken but it lacks challenge and depth. For a game so refined in the dialogue/story territory, it is a shame Bioware didn't put more time into the development of a good combat system. Also, the game is linear, so if you plan to explore, forget it.

Replay- Once you've completed one path, you can play the game a different way. You can be good or evil, just like in KOTOR, and each path leads to new experiences. Because of this, should you choose to replay the game, it has a bit of replay value. However, replaying the game doesn't change very many quests. You still have your basic quest that you're given, but should you so choose, you can complete it the "evil" way. So while the plot develops diferently and your party members may think of you in different ways, the basic structure of the game remains the same. Worth mentioning is the fact that both paths offer different styles unique to that path as well as a few other extras I won't spoil. I do believe the closed fist (evil path) is more entertaining, but for you goody goodies out there, you can be as angelic and peaceable as you choose. Replaying the game will go by a lot faster as well, as you'll know where to go, who to talk to, etc.

Here's a summary-----
Replay value-8/10

All in all, Jade Empire is a good game. Those looking for an epic adventure, look elsewhere. Those looking for amazing combat, try again. But for those looking for a great story, great characters and some memorable moments, you've found what you're looking for.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/17/06

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