Jade Empire

A fast moving, action-packed RPG with a solid story and very few content issues.
Colonel Link - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Violence: You kill a lot of people and animals, but there is usually no blood.

Language: D**n is said occasionally.

Sexual Content:

Most of the female characters don't dress very modestly.

Jade Empire is based in a mythical setting inspired by ancient China, and allows you to progress through an adventure based on traditional martial arts. After you make your character (who can be either male or female), you progresses through the game, discovering and developing new fighting styles (either martial arts, weapon styles, magic styles, support styles or transformation styles).

Plot: “The game casts you as a martial arts student under the tutelage of Master Li, head of the Two Rivers martial arts school. The player’s training is interrupted as the town of Two Rivers comes under attack from an aggressor in a strange ship who summons ghosts to attack the student. The attacker is defeated by Master Li who comes to the student’s rescue and reveals that the attacker was a member of the Lotus Assassins, a mysterious force serving the Emperor of the Jade Empire. Master Li explains that the student (you) is the last of the order of Spirit Monks. He, a brother of the Emperor and leader of the army, had ordered an attack on Dirge, where the Spirt Monks’ temple existed, in order to end the Long Drought.”

Jade Empire.  Illustration copyrighted.

The plot is quite well done, and evolves well as you go along. The side quests often add a bit of background to the main storyline, which makes for a very interesting story.

Gameplay: The controls work very well, making the gameplay fast and exciting. You have “focus”, which when pressed, puts you into a type of slow motion mode. Also, weapons consume focus; but their usage of it is lessened the more you upgrade them. The RPG style suits the game very well, with dialog having a lot of options, and you’re able to upgrade weapons and health (or focus and magic). However, unlike other RPG’s, the combat is not turn based. It is a very simple combo system, where you choose your style (martial, magic, or weapon) and then press the attack and block buttons in turn. It works quite well, although it is very, very simple.

Sound: As in Knights of the Old Republic, all of the dialog is voice acted. The voices themselves are good, but the fact that they don’t speak Chinese, or even have an Asian accent makes the game a lot less realistic. The outdoor areas sound very good, with bugs buzzing in the swamps, etc.

Violence: Much of the game is spent fighting, but there is no blood unless you use a martial style. If blood is turned on, and you use a weapon, you may end up beheading an enemy, in which case blood will spray in huge amounts from the wound. However, blood can be turned off in the main menu.

Language: D**n is said a few times.

Sexual Content: Some of the female characters don’t dress very decently, with some very revealing tops that show a lot of cleavage and tummy. I’ve heard that there is a sidequest that allows you to change your gender, but I never even found a reference to it.

Spiritual Content: Instead of light side and dark side, the game features “Way of the Open Palm”, and “Way of the Closed Fist”. Open Palm believes that you should help everyone, and Closed Fist believes that if people can’t solve their own problems, they don’t deserve to be helped. On of the first levels in the game presents you with a choice: Either open the dam and cause the water level rise again, allowing ships to come and go, and destroying the poverty; or leaving it closed, which will make all the ships stay stranded in the harbor, and causing drunks to be rampant around the town (and get you a lot of money in the process.
Magic is also available for use. Some of the styles allow you to transform into a Toad, Horse, or big monster. There are numerous references to Chinese gods and demons, and you fight both on occasion.

Jade Empire.  Illustration copyrighted.

Graphics: The visual effects are very well done, branches and leaves sway in the wind, and these look realistic. Characters move their mouths in accordance with their voices, and the character models themselves serve their purpose.

Positive Material: If you choose the Way of the Open Palm, everyone will like you, and you will feel satisfaction after helping many, many people.

Conclusion: Although not as good as, say, KOTOR, Jade Empire holds its own in the RPG genre, and is a fun game that will last you around 35 hours.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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