Jade Empire
Reviewed: 05/04/2005


Many highly-anticipated games have come out this year. But when it comes to RPGs, Jade Empire has best lived up to its hype. This game is one rich in Chinese culture. The concepts of demons and spirits down to “The Wall” are all ones coming from the history of China.

The game starts out in a fighting school in a small town. This is where players learn the concepts of fighting in the game under the tutelage of Master Li. At the same time you are taught the concepts of Health, Focus, and Chi. These three concepts go hand-in-hand with the different fighting abilities in the game, focus being used for weapons and Chi for magic and healing. This is where you also get your first follower, Dawn Star. She came into the school about the same time as you, but can sense spirits, a power she doesn’t see to be of any use. The two of you team up to fight against pirates who have attacked the town that the school is in. After much fighting, you make your way to the ship where in the end, Master Li just punches the ship and it explodes. The fun only increases from here.

Screen Shot
The fighting, and various styles thereof, makes for great gameplay.

The fighting in this game is controlled by enemies being targets that can be switched with the L and R buttons. This helps the fighting system stay fast pace, especially toward the end of the game as you level up. The use of weapons is the most effective way of disposing of one’s enemies. This is very draining on your focus and once empty you can’t weld weapons until you get more form a focus shrine or a dropped orb. Using magic can be powerful once mastered, but can be very awkward if you’re not used to it. Becoming a demon is usually a better use for your Chi, unless healing. The choice of which fighting style to use is pretty much up to the player. The fighting styles are easily changed with the use of the D-pad, this can help you out greatly if using Drunken Master just isn’t cutting it in battle anymore.

The graphics laid out in this game are superb. Bioware put a lot of work into this, to the point where your character’s facial expressions change at different decisions you make through the game. The cities and areas they created for your character to wander through were thought up to the very fine detail. Surprisingly, with all this detail there was only one spot in the game that I found where it stopped to load. This was in the Imperial City, the largest and most complex area in the game. Even then this load only took a second. Upon seeing the water dragon for the first time one can fully appreciate the time Bioware put into the graphics of the game.

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Confucious say, “Jade Empire good.”

Jade Empire turned out to be a wonderful game that was definitely worth waiting for. The fighting system of the game is quite noteworthy and it is hoped to see similar in future games. That, tied in with the graphics and easy-to-follow storyline make Jade Empire a worthwhile purchase for almost any type of gamer.

-Hank Farley

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Excellent
Story Great
Graphics Excellent
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Great
The Verdict: 9