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Jade Empire


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#1 node

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 09:06 PM

Imagine that Tolkien were Chinese, that instead of studying the myths of European cultures he collected and took influence from myths of ghosts, demons, and gods of the Far East. Instead of Middle Earth we would almost certainly have something rather akin to the settings and legends of Jade Empire. It is fantasy as if conceived by the Chinese. Er, except it was created by the Canadians at Bioware.

So what of this setting, the characters, tale and imagery collected in this game? All fantastic. Call this fanboy gushing if you must, but the story of Jade Empire is every bit as good as their last effort, Knights of the Old Republic, arguably even more sophisticated, clever and satisfying. The characters are wonderfully realised and voiced, all very different from one another. The fighting system, while not the most sophisticated, in time becomes a joy to use as you can swap out ranged magic, close quarters fighting and "support" styles which hinder enemies.

They've also not only invented this fantastic land that's a welcome change from Orcs and Dwarves but they've also brought it to life with some of the most beautiful sights to come from an Xbox game yet. There's none of the shine or scale of Halo 2, instead the texture work is simply sumptuous, immersing you in this far away mythical land of great beauty.

To dwell on the story a little more, there is much to love about it. There are a couple of characters who join your party that provide genuine comic relief, others who you feel genuine sympathy or liking for, all helped by the aforementioned superb voice acting. The tale is a riveting one that's not short of surprises and genuinely moving moments too.

And then there are the quality details. One impressed me in particular - often what the characters say will match where you are in the story. Instead of having a stock reply throughout, if you ask a party member the same question you did an hour ago you might now get a different answer, for example "Certainly, however we must first press on towards the Imperial City". It feels so natural that you barely notice it on a conscious level, however it's great that they've gone to the effort to more firmly root the characters in the events surrounding them. It's a subtle touch that makes the game world feel that much more alive. The devil is in the details, and Bioware know and practice this.

To counterbalance all this gushing I should mention the few downfalls - there is occasional slowdown when there are many enemies on screen and for the first few hours the combat takes some getting used to. It's also not as deep as a full fighting title, however combining the many styles goes some way to counterbalance this.

Enough. To convince you any further of the games significant worth I'd have to reveal further story details, and that is neither fair nor the point of a review. A review should give you an opinion, and mine is this - Jade Empire is superb, a truly original game that I was sad to finish. It is a genuine delight to see Bioware's first original property RPG flourish as Jade Empire has. May we see many more adventures in this wonderous, mythical land which this lengthy game has nonetheless only begun to reveal.
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#2 Jonnysaxc

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 09:08 AM

Hello Node
I see you finished the game- any chance at all of getting a grab of the ending?
I'm trying to get the different endings for
www.game-endings.co.uk

any help appreciated!

Cheers
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#3 odiedodie

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 10:43 PM

I really wanted to enjoy this game (got the preorder special edition) but i couldnt...
I found the combat shallow and simplistic (the best button combo you can do is A+A+A)

The fighting styles themselves were beautiful and animations lovely, but i found most battles consisting of
punch punch punch, then jump behind the enemy
repeat until enemy is dead

Levelling up is (like i said) simplistic.
I can understand why this may be - so that non rpg'ers could easily get into the swing of things, but i like a little more customisation

being a fan of bioware and readsing all the beforehand hype, i was uber dissapointed
But maybe i put a little too much hope in the game before i played it

Anyhoo i traded it in for KOTOR2
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#4 node

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 12:09 AM

The combat IS simplistic at first, but in time you'll be switching styles to deal with a mix of enemy types. The combat could be better, no doubt, but I enjoyed it even so.

I also really liked how they toned down the inventory and leveling too - much as I loved the game overall, inventory management and leveling your party in KOTOR took forever.
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#5 odiedodie

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 12:36 AM

I was however pissed off that you could not upgrade the drunken master style like the others

that was a a kick ass style
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#6 Zero

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 02:18 PM

I enjoyed it, altho not as much as KOTOR, but I thought the ending was absolute bollocks. I'm gonna play through it again going the way of the closed fist and see if the ending I get is more satisfying.

I'd say an 8.5 for this and definitely not a, hugely overactive, 9.9 ala IGN.
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#7 odiedodie

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 08:17 PM

9.9 is unreasonable for ANY game
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#8 Zero

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 06:53 PM

Yeah but a IGN 9.9 is about an Edge 8.

Heh, just noticed you have the Rambaldi symbol in your sig.
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#9 odiedodie

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 07:17 PM

lol
but yournot the 1st person to notice

once i have all the devices i expect to unleash some sort of doomsday device upon the world... depending on how pissed off i am
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#10 X

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 10:29 AM

I think my two most used styles in the later parts of the game were Jade Golem and Mirabelle (which seemed particularly effective).
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#11 Zero

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 10:36 AM

I think my two most used styles in the later parts of the game were Jade Golem and Mirabelle (which seemed particularly effective).

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You cheating bastard, you cant use a shotgun on a martial games, I band you from using that style ever again. :P
Personally I thought it drained focus too fast, I prefer my double swords.

The Jade Golem style made the last fight very anti-climatic, morph into golem style, beat the living shite out of the boss.
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#12 SM47

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Posted 20 May 2005 - 06:07 PM

I didnt enjoy it nearly as much as the original KOTOR. Pretty good though.
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#13 sandman

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 07:39 PM

Great review of what is a great game, a good contender for game of the year.
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#14 Guest_henofdoom_*

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 06:39 PM

Great review of what is a great game, a good contender for game of the year.

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Words cannot describe how overrated this mess of a game is. Average at best.

Game of the year. You've got to be shitting me. Resdient Evil 4, Stranger's Wrath, WoW, just about every other reasonably competent game this year... jesus wept.
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#15 SM47

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 09:24 PM

Words cannot describe how overrated this mess of a game is.  Average at best.

Game of the year.  You've got to be shitting me.  Resdient Evil 4, Stranger's Wrath, WoW, just about every other reasonably competent game this year... jesus wept.

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Yeah, but you described San Andreas as being 'technically flawed'.

YOU LOSE.
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#16 Guest_henofdoom_*

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 12:59 PM

Yeah, but you described San Andreas as being 'technically flawed'.

YOU LOSE.

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I don't quite see how, personally. But in San Andreas' defence at least it doesn't take two hours to load a level....
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#17 X

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Posted 07 September 2005 - 01:43 PM

As with most games it is down to personal likes and dislikes. I personally liked the game. Maybe not Game of the Year but at least a game I finished this year (of which there have been 5 so far!).
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#18 Pockets

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 01:30 PM

I loved Jade Empire. My favourite game on the xbox. I recently sold my machine onto a friend and as I was going through and deleting some stuff for him I came acrooss my old saves. I was that excited!
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#19 matt0

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Posted 19 December 2005 - 11:05 PM

I can't be arsed to go back and check Knights Of The Old Republic to see if that was as bad and I just don't remember, but one thing that stuck out for me in Jade Empire was that the replys you got in conversation seemed tailored to suit every dialogue option you were given at best, and at worst it just seemed like the person you were talking to was ignoring you.

And the combat was pish.

And only being able to have one follower with you at any time really didn't cut it.

And the mini-games were shit.

And Tien's Landing was the best bit in the game and that was the second area.

And it talks about there being 4 provences connected by the impereal city while you're in Tien's landing but you only go to two of them, and one of them is Dirge which isn't really a free roaming area.

And... And...

I still enjoyed it though. It was a mess, but the story and the settings held up for me. It reminded me a little of Shen Mue in that the game itself wasn't up to much but the sense of place was so strong that it kept me playing. I remember a lot of the locations as if they were real places (sad I know :unsure: ).
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#20 Jammy

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Posted 20 December 2005 - 05:57 PM

I just finished this last week - it was quite enjoyable, but I found that the game pretty much rail-roaded you through to the end. I never struggled in combat, although I could have turned up the difficulty to hard if I wanted, and I was never stuck for what to do it was all so blatant. All in all, where KOTOR slightly annoyed me because there was too much travelling back and forth between waypoints to complete missions, which just felt like a way of stretching the game out, Jade Empire was just too easy to run through.
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