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Jade Empire (SE) - the best game BioWARE made to date


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Just finished it for the first time. A sidenote, though, is that my husband was playing it, and I was watching (important, because the controls are not for everyone!).


What makes Jade Empire an outstanding piece of work?


First of all, the writing; for the biggest portion of the game, it's elegantly whimsical, effortless, captivating, with the right blend of humor and seriousness. Again, for the most part, the game does good job in utilizing PC's conversational skills, giving you at least 5 options at every nod of the conversation. Fascinating! Yes, they do drop the ball in the very end of the game, which is a pity, but the biggest part of the game is awesome.


Second reason is called Tien's Landing. After a relatively banal start, the game suddenly kicks into the high gear there. It gotta be the best location ever build and populated in a CRPG. The NPCs that are as funny and as realistic as real people; interesting quests and sidequests. Emotional connections. Minster Sheng. If they had an Olympic sport for creating an alive character, the author of Minister Sheng's dialogues would have gotten my vote. He is a hilarious absolutely fantastic job on a whiny bureaucrat and a snob. It can't get better... Wait, what about the drunkard, what about-- What about every other character in Tien's Landing? Ah, so tough to chose a favorite, and that's among non-joinable NPCs!


Third reason is the ruleset. Okay, if you are a D&D fanatic, you might be not into that, but I loved how they took what I thought was the most interesting abilities that are so painstakingly built up in the intricate and laborious 3.5 edition, and made it work effortlessly....


Effortlessly... Yes, I keep repeating this word, but that's what impressed me the most in Jade Empire, just how much the game itself lives, without ever showing you the ugly underbelly of its inner workings and mechanisms!


But to get back to the ruleset, your character can do battle magic, slash with cool swords, transform into powerful creatures, detect and evade traps, heal and use his conversational skill to get out of tight spots... and all of it in a simple to understand and implement way!!! It's not NWN1, where a player was left to stare at the screen full of endless choices, and unable to decide just how in the Hells s/he is going to put all of it into his or her sole PC! The special mention is gotta go to how well the interweaving the information about the world into the game was done. Very, very good! You got XP for reading numerous stands with the pertinent historic/cultural data, and then, there was that East vs West debate that was simply wonderful. They could have went easier on the info-dumps and the multiple characters repeating the same information to make sure PC got it, but one cannot forget that not all players are as attentive as I were.


Now, to the joinable NPCs. I have to admit, that this was a love-hate portion of the game for me. Like in KOTOR, the NPCs where all dragged with the PC everywhere, but only one accompanied him/her, which is, of course, not to my taste (I am a party girl ) But...! JE managed to develop the NPCs and develop them to an astoundingly complete degree. They talked; they had opinions on what's going on in the proper places; they participated in the plot and did it without much forcing the issue. They made sense. They were FUN! They all got their moment under the sun as well, for subplots and stories of their own. The only thing -which we unfortunately came to expect nowadays- is that male romantic side imo is by far better developed than the female one, and the options for the male make far more sense for the male PC. To slightly even the things out, Zu had to have been made romanceable; it's just too bad they didn't do it, it would have made for a great story. The male romances though, the ones I saw with my husband were fun, had interplay and had a cool twist to them (though I liked neither of the two rivals; too busy being upset that I can't romance Zu with my female PC).


Locations other than Tien's landings and subplots/sidequests where for the most part good, some of them truly interesting (hey, dropping a golem on top of someone! Cool! Or the sentimental drunk robbing sailors...). They were also good, if you catch my drift. Jade Empire is yet another game, where playing evil (oh, sorry, the Closed Fist) does not sound cool; it's the usual blunt thuggery theme. As always, they tried to divorce the philosophies from good/evil, and as usual they failed miserably. Every paladin out there would know what's what. So, no, it doesn't live up to that lately beloved claim that every game makes, that it's morally ambiguous, and there is no clear good an evil, blah-blah-blah. On the other hand, they managed to create the impression of a bustling city, and I mean bustling. Lots of people, lots of activity etc. There are two relatively long sets of interesting optional sidequests as well.


The Plot Twists. JE did manage to surprise the hell out of me thrice. Whoa! Great job! Though one of the twists did make me angry, because it kind of limited my character's choices in the end; it did try to utilize the 'enemy that you shall pity' formula, and I did not go for it at all, since there was nothing that would have made me pity that particular foe, as the offence he committed against my character was very personal in nature, and the one that cried: Revenge, revenge and revenge!!! (to me, of course).


If there is a weakness in the game, it's its very ending. There is no helping it; it's anticlimactic and cheesy, and PC does not get the very obvious options, that I would have taken on my hypothetic play-through with a female character even if it damned me to turn Evil.


The game is not moddable. It's fully voiced, all the tools out there override the dialogue.tlk. So, there is no correcting that one thing that I would have liked corrected (Zu and female PC extra content). But even without that correction, that is by a matter of habit I can probably apply in my head (or pour out in a bad fanfiction, lol), I am almost tempted to start another run with the female. If that Zu thing was in, I would have been playing as a female now, instead of writing this review, despite my complete lack of finger dexterity.


So, guys and gals, if you don't mind pushing the mouse button to attack your enemies in a computer game, Jade Empire is sooooo worth it!!!!!

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Everything I read about the game tells me that it is a (as you now point out masterly) veiled fighting game. I find the offering of magic choices I read about at gamebanshee not very appealing. I don't need ease of use, I got the radial interface right away and still find it brilliant, I want choices.


But: I don't like fast. I don't give a damn about nice scenery if I have to replay a scene five times because I did not get the combo right (Bad Tekken memories).


So basically I read good storyline to watch, if a consolero is playing it, correct?

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I would not actually call it a fighting game. It does require a thought given to the combat on the regular setting, but to be honest, things like transformation styles make me think that the game could be played a bit differently than going through it with the martial style the way my husband did. I intend to create a character who will be primarily about transformation, she will get a disproportional amount of chi energy to start with, and maybe use magic as well, though the commonly held view is that magic is a bit underdeveloped in the game, though I saw mages as very effective against our charcater when he was not transformed into a demonic form.


I think that all the things that require more than quick pressing of the attack button are optional, ie the flight missions that will appeal to the consoler, or most of the Arena fights. We never used combos. Just the same style that we developped. It takes a click though to chi-power yourself, transform and to go into a focus mode. They turn off authomatically once you ran out of energies.


I'll let you know how I fared on Easy setting with the emphasis on the Transformation once I get time to play it :)

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My boyfriend started playing it, I saw it...and decided not to play. Hate all this "eastern" flavour, really. It also struck me as fighting-oriented, and I don't like such games.

Maybe the first impression was wrong, I intend to actually play it someday and give it a chance it deserves. It's just that I've heard so many praises about JE, and the game itself at first looked a little bit "meh" after all those words about it :)


PS BTW, is it the truth JE doesn't have any heretosexual romance for female characters?

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As I said, the beginning is banal, but to be honest, after playing the game, I know why it is banal. Actually, I don't like Eastern settings either (confu movies, yakes!) but they do manage to make it fun and different imo. Well, appart from the very ending (that is out of confu movies)! In fact, I didn't even want to buy the game. I bought it because I saw a used copy on sale! The best 30$ I spent!

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Did you play the PC version of the XBox(?) one? I've always been interested in the game, but haven't purchased it yet because I don't know if it's ported well to the PC. I only have access to a PS3, and I won't be buying an XBox anytime soon...

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The PC version worked fine for me, though like I've mentioned before make sure you have a gamepad (an Xbox 360 USB controller works just fine for a PC as well as the Xbox). If you try to do without a good gamepad, I hear that the controls can be frustrating.

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I've recently finished JE as well, and I loved every minute of it, it was fast paced, fun and didn't take itself too seriously.

Oh, and i loved every one of the party characters, which is unusal for me, I normally loathe half ot them.


I can't really add anything to what Domi's said, other than Buy this Game now, if not sooner. Or I shall smite thee. With a spoon. :)

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Heh, I toyed with the controls a bit, created my high chi-high focus character, it's not that bad even on the PC. I'll try to get a bit of time to see the story through. I am thinking of switching Zu's support stile to the one that spirit monk had via a small tweak to the 2DA and taking him along for as long as he'll follow, and imagine a lovely romance for my PC :) It should be a blast!

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