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Learning Curve: Around 10 minutes.
During the time when Microsoft was porting many console games to PC, Jade Empire was no exception. Jade Empire is an RPG from the creators of such epics as Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights; Bioware. Set in the prosperous East, you begin an epic journey of martial arts mastery that will take you through several beautiful environments to peaceful villages hidden away to bustling cities of the Jade Empire.
From the get go, you have a variety of characters you can choose from, be it male or female, and with the inclusion of the PC version, you also have access to a new character, which was only priorly availible for Jade Empire Special Edition on the XBOX. Once you have chosen your character, you will then be able to give him/her a name, as well as that, you will be able to distribute a set amount of stats between three distinct character developments. You have Health, then Chi (magic) and Focus (skill), each prooving to be a valuable asset towards what you wish your character to be a master of. Health naturally increases the amount of damage you can take before dieing, while Chi enables you to heal yourself more, or have the ability to conjour up magic with your bare hands, while Focus is more for skill, allowing you to enter a slow motion "god mode" for so long allowing you to damage all enemies around you in super quick speed, and also allows you to wield weapons in combat for a longer length of time.
Now that you have your character all kitted out, you are thrown into the emersive storyline, where you are a student under the aptly named Master Li. You have excelled at every department of your training, and have become his star pupil, and have been fortold that your destiny lies more then just a simple student. You are able to master several different martial arts, being it Legendary Strike, A Thousand Cuts, or even mastery of a weapon/magic, which you'll be able to unleash all this on several different types of enemies throughout your long journey.
While playing, you will come accross a variety of characters that will join you on your journey, all haveing their own unique bonus to helping you. However you are only allowed to have one companion with you at any time, you are able to switch between them whenever you like. You also have the option to bringing them in as a combatant where they'll activly attack enemies, or bring them on as a support character, which will then aid you on the side-lines, be it healing you, giving you attack bonuses, or charging up you Chi bar. Some characters can only be brought on as support characters, however these are normally those that give you more of a special boost in that department then those that can perform in combat also.
During the game, you are able to interact with pretty much everyone, and majority have a voice to boot. As a pretty big part of how the game plays, you are given options on how to respond to people, and how you respond is more of how your character changes. There are two main keys to the game, you being good, or evil, and the actions you perform dictate which side you induldge in more, opening up new forms of combat and how your companions like you.
Sometimes, when talking with others, you will have special talking options, allowing you to possibly get more out of it then you originally would. These areas are either under Intimidation, Intuition or Charm. These are your linguistic skills that you can increase via items and stat upgrades. The higher you are in one area, the more likely you will succeed, however sometimes it will come at the cost of being more evil or more good.
As you play through, you'll notice the more enemies you kill, the more experience you'll get, and that talking with people can reap you benefits in experience and/or silver (the games currency). With experience, allows you to level up, and once you have levelled up, you will be given a set amount of stat points to add to your characters health, chi or focus, as well as action points which can be spent on improving your characters fighting styles. It isn't very in-depth, but it does give you the feeling that you have the choice of how your character is developed and played out. Also as you travel through the land of Jade Empire, you will come accross scroll stands which when read, will gain you even more experience.
On the other part, when you receive silver, you can spend them on a variety of items such as magical stones that can increase stats, powers and your linguistic skills. You can even buy new weapons later on in the game, opening up a new variety of combat options for you.
Gameplay - 8/10
The combat of the game is very simplistic, which for those looking for something more in-depth and complicated, will most likely find rather boring and repetitive, however for those diehard rpg fans or those casual gamers, this will be more for you. You have on key to attack, then another key to perform a heavy attack (allowing you to breakthough blocks), one key to block yourself and another to enter focus mode. You will then have keys to allow you to choose from up to 10 different fighting styles that you have equipped (6 more then the XBOX version) for quick changes in strategy allowing you to get a jump on your enemies. Unfortunatly you arn't able to combine fighting styles together in combo's, however the combat is meant to be very simplistic.
Design - 8/10
This being a newer version for the PC, the graphics have been enhanced graphically, and higher resolutions. This has been a big bonus for the game, as the beautiful, lush environments and detailed characters make your mouth drop in awe. However, the downfall to this is, it makes the FMV's (Full Motion Video) scenes that were not updated look very poor, which has changed the balance the other way around to what the XBOX version of the game offered.
Sound - 7/10
Jade Empire offers a very good soundtrack, that allows you to emerse yourself even more into the game, however the PC version has a let down where certain sound effects are missing in places with a few other technical sounds problems. The voice acting is pretty decent on the other hand.
Value - 9/10
With the game coming to around 20 hours in length, and the variety of ways you can play through, this game will give you plenty of replay value, especially with the "New game+" option after you complete, allowing you to start the game again with your prior character with stats and items all intact. With the gameplay getting shockingly addictive to those who keep at it and the story never getting tireing, you'll be able to play through this game several times, offering a wide variety of ways of how your character turns out.
The PC version also comes with a steel case, an artbook and a 18"x24" poster, which just adds to the reason to go for it.
Overall - 8.5/10
The great storyline, the addictive simplistic combat, and the lush visuals really make this a worthy purchase for all gamers, however with the non-exsistant FMV update, and the sound issues, this game couldn't become as good as it could of been.
You begin as a student of Master Li at the Two Rivers martial arts school until an attack on Two Rivers occurs. Then begins your journey to save the Water Dragon from the Emperor.
In Jade Empire you may select a character from a range each with their own fighting styles. Fairly early on you'll need to decide how you're going to spend your skill points to make your character strong at one fighting style.
The stats are Body, Mind and Spirit. The points in these will determine your Health, Focus and Chi in that order as well as your Charm, Intuition and Intimidation. There is a good/evil element in that you can choose between Open Palm and Closed Fist. If you make decisions in a Closed Fist manner you follow the evil path, this generally means leaving NPCs to defend themselves. Depending on which path you're on you'll either be able to choose Viper or Iron Palm fighting style later in the game. You don't have to select the path immediately, your path will become apparent depending on how you react to the different scenarios but you do not always have to react in an Open Palm manner to be considered good.
You can speak to all of the NPCs and quite a few of them will offer side quests which are worth doing for the experience points and are interesting side quests, not just time wasters.
I loved this game. The story is interesting, the graphics are great as is the sound and the gameplay is fantastic. The controls on PC cannot be faulted. All of the missions are interesting, even the side missions. The characters that join you all have their own story and how often you interact with them and your interaction style will change your relationship with them which in turn will affect the ending as there are a few different endings available. The style is somewhat reminiscent of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.
Overall I can't fault it apart from to say that I would have liked it to be longer. Having said that the game is around 20hrs at least, I just didn't want it to end so even if it had been 30 or 40hrs long I'd probably be saying the same thing.
I am also a member of Ciao and have posted this review there.
The beautiful and mysterious world of Jade Empire, optimized and enhanced for PC. Experience the award winning martial arts action-RPG. Jade Empire is a fast-paced martial-arts role-playing game (RPG), from Knights of the Old Republic RPG-developer BioWare. It's set in a new, fantastical world based on mythical China, where sinister events have upset the peaceful harmony of an isolated martial-arts school. Featuring furious action previously found only in Hong Kong cinema, the game lets players master more than 30 fighting styles and a wide range of mystical powers as they embark on a perilous journey, stretching from the Land of Howling Spirits to the lush gardens of the Imperial City.