Video Game Review: Jade Empire: Special Edition (2005)

Details: Played on the PC for about twenty four hours.

Jade Empire is an action role playing game (RPG) created by Bioware and released for XBOX, XBOX 360, and PC back in 2007. It hasn’t aged well, but it is still fun.

First and foremost, it needs to be said how annoying it was to install this thing. This game has not been updated or patched for years. I run Windows 8.1. In order to get the old game up and running, you need to install it in compatability mode to a version of Windows that can support it. I think I used Vista. Even then, it may not work for you. I’ve read many forum posts on the internet on how people cannot get the game running. So, purchase at your discretion.

As for the game…

Graphically, it is pretty old. The textures have aged, but with anti-aliasing it is more than playable. Despite the aged textures, the art direction used in the game is great. It’s obviously Chinese, with a little steam-punk. Further, I was surprised that there is support for 1920 by 1080 resolution, which is the resolution of my monitor.

Voice acting was great. Thoroughly surprised and elated when I heard Nathan Fillion in the game. Love that guy.

Music was good.

The story is classic Bioware. Not as complex as other Bioware titles, but there are the standard story changing decisions, good vs. evil decisions, romance options, and side quests. Took me about twenty hours to beat.

As for gameplay, the combat system is a little simplistic. The AI is not programmed particularly well and you can tell this is the best job a company known for making RPG’s can do in pursuit of an action-y game.

Throughout the game, you learn styles (e.g. sword style, drunken fist) which are equip-able fighting style. Some have weapons, some let you transform into a demon. Some styles can only hurt certain enemies, like rock-paper-scissor. The goal — as seemingly intended by the developers — is to mix different styles during combat and mid-combo, thus yielding a harmonic combo that increases the damage and effects of your attacks. With that said, I never used harmonic combos. They were unnecessary. I just dodged around and hit people with my sword. Further, there really isn’t a lot in terms of level progression. You don’t really get to equip items, you get gems. The weapons are tied to their respective styles. It’s a very simple system.

Score: 6.8/10 Like the game. I’m sure it was great for its time, but that was years ago. Still playable though if you’re in the mood for a Bioware RPG. I’m more excited about the possibility that Bioware is going make a modern sequel with all the new game mechanics and visuals that they’ve developed since 2007.

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