a doubt, one of the best games to ever grace a console
is Jade Empire. I just can't tear it apart. The developers
have really done their homework and have obviously
subjected this game to serious scrutiny during all
phases of its development. Don't let the RPG tag scare
you. This is an action RPG with real-time combat.
Complete with a great story, plenty of characters,
great animation and a combat system that incorporates
weapons, magic and supernatural moves there is not
a boring moment in the entire game - and it's a long
one at that.
Empire plays like an epic Chinese movie. Kung Fu is
blended with ancient Chinese legends for a game that
is unpredictable and captivating. It's just as amazing
to watch as it is to play. The moves all seem perfectly
choreographed and are reminiscent of the ballet in
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The game is also full
of references to old movies including those of Jackie
Chan and the Wu Tang series. Having said that you
know that you can expect the unexpected. It balances
situations of dire seriousness with comic relief.
One character in particular is voiced by one of my
favorite comedians, John Cleese, of Monty Python and
Faulty Towers fame.
the start of the game you can choose from six characters,
evenly split into sexes. Each have slightly different
abilities but you can customize them to your specifications
as you progress. Steeped in ancient Chinese philosophies
you will choose your path of good, evil or neutral
while nourishing your mind, body and soul with essence
that is rewarded for good fighting technique.
amazing how this whole ancient Chinese concepts fits
into the classic RPG format that was originally designed
for the fantasy-based dungeon and dragons. We have
hack and slash weapons, warring factions, an intricate
story with lots of back history, interactive characters,
team play, a huge map and the ability to increase
one's skills through experience. You could say that
the RPG was invented for Jade Empire.
and veterans alike will worship the combat system
which is both simple and deep. It starts out with
a few basic moves allowing you to get used to it as
new moves are added as you go. There are plenty of
opportunities to test out your new moves. Basic attacks
are facilitated by the A button. The X button yields
more powerful attacks but unlike the basic attacks
they take time to charge and can leave you vulnerable.
Two of the most fundamental and important moves are
the block and the dodge. Blocking and dodging will
help buy you some time until you can get in a position
to pull off a special attack. Dodging consists of
rolling dives, backflips and other hyper-gymnastic
feats that are great fun to use.
targeting system allows you to take on one enemy at
a time. The unwritten rule of the old Kung Fu movies
states that the hero will take on one enemy at a time
from a swarming horde and move on up the chain of
command to finally confront the boss. By moving the
cursor around you will highlight the enemy that you
will fight while the others patiently wait their turn.
the different characters may have different abilities,
they all have three main components that fuel their
moves: Health; Chi and Focus. Chi is magic. It can
be used in combination with fighting moves to unleash
some really devastating attacks such as fireballs.
It can also be used to recharge your health which
is something you don't want drained. Focus lets you
slow down time to use your weapons more effectively.
By combining these moves and fighting styles you will
have a vast array of combat commands available with
a minimal of fuss. Button mashing is not encouraged
but at least you don't have to memorize a lot of combinations.
up is fast and easy. The interface is a joy to work
with. You won't be agonizing over each and every detail.
By virtue of the path that you've chosen and the styles
of combat that you prefer, these decisions are basically
spelled out for you, although at no time do you feel
forced into a choice. The interface is just arranged
to be more user-friendly, not restrictive.
are characters that comprise your party. You don't
directly control them and you can only take one into
battle with you. Your follower will help distract
enemies during a melee. They will also help charge
your Chi and Focus by meditating for your. These followers
are complex characters and each one has a different
motive for following you, all of which is revealed
through conversations. The depth of information you
can glean through conversation is directly related
to your charm which is upgradeable.
are so many facets to this game which can be affected
by the choices that you make that you will definitely
have to replay it several times. There are three different
endings. I've only seen one and I'm just dying to
see the other two.
incredible smooth animation and rich, detailed graphics
the story of Jade Empire is literally brought to life.
On rare occasions the camera will get stuck behind
some of the scenery which is only a real problem when
you're in the middle of a fight. The music elicits
a range of emotion from serene calm to severe calamity.
Voiceovers are equally amazing which is virtually
unheard of for a game that relies on ancient China
as a backdrop.
Empire is more or less an interactive movie. It's
fast paced with streamlined RPG features that takes
the tedium out of micro-management yet still allow
for a stunning degree of choices and overall freedom
for your character. The production values are second
to none and the all-important story is one of the
best in recent memory. It's got great replay value
with six different characters, multiple moral paths
and different endings. I don't think you have to read
between the lines to figure out that I really love
this game. Definitely check it out.