Jade Empire™: Special Edition
Like Fable before it, Jade Empire is another X-Box exclusive that finally made it’s way onto computer, and made up for the long wait with some extra content. Made by Bioware, who brought us such classics as the Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights series, you can be sure that Jade Empire has an interesting story to tell. You start the game as a young fighter training under Master Li in the small town of Two Rivers. It seems that fate as always has a lot more in store for you and it’s not long before you’re on a mission to find your kidnapped master while recruited all kinds of allies along the way. Things don’t stay this simple for long either and by the end of the game you’ll have experienced all the plot twists and turns that Bioware games are famous for. Without wanting to give anything away, I can safely assure you that there are more than enough surprises in store for you to keep you hooked right to the end.
Instead of the usual fantasy or science fiction setting, Jade Empire instead goes for a very oriental look that sets it apart from the rest. This means you’ll be facing off against ninjas, bandits, assassins, golems and all manner of mythological Japanese monsters. The game also has some very lush surroundings and although it’s a console conversion I couldn’t help but be impressed at some of the locations. Each area is packed with color and detail and even with everything cranked up the game still ran very smoothly on even a mid range computer.
Gameplay is a bit more action oriented than the usual computer fare, so puzzle fans might be a little disappointed that their cerebral matter isn’t tested more. Combat is a joy to behold though, as you are capable of a variety of different fighting styles and all kinds of combos and special moves. You can only have one companion at your side at a time, so pick carefully which one will complement you best in a given situation as they each have their own specialties. In typical Bioware fashion each character also has their own back story and you can become quite attached to your companions. Apart from all the combat you can also take to the skies in certain sections for some top down shooting action, but since computer players taste differ from their console brethren you can opt to give these sections a miss if your reflexes aren’t up to scratch.
The audio is also very nice with the usual top notch voice overs found in most Bioware games. One of the reasons that the game is so huge is that virtually every character has full speech, so you don’t have to worry about reading too much. The audio is also suitably oriental sounding and sound effects are very good. You can play the game quite easily with a keyboard even though it’s a console conversion and I had no problem pulling off all the moves and combos with ease. Overall the game was very polished and I encountered no bugs apart from a little glitch sometimes where the camera went a bit screwy but this was rectified easily by just saving and reloading.
If you prefer your role playing games fast paced and action packed then Jade Empire is just what you’re looking for. With a variety of different character types, each of which can be customized further with different styles and weapons, this is a game that can keep you hooked for a long time. It might have taken its sweet time to be released on computer, but it was definitely worth the wait.
*Review originally published December 2007.
- Windows XP
- Pentium 4 1.8 GHz or AMD Athlon 1800XP
- 512MB RAM
- 8 GB Free HD Space
- DirectX 9.0
- NVIDIA GeForce 6200 or ATI 9500 or better (Shader Model 2.0 required)
- 100% DirectX 9.0 compatible sound card and drivers.
- 3 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or equivalent processor
- 1GB RAM
- DirectX 9.0 February 2006
- ATI X600 series, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series, or higher recommended.