To be honest thus far 2005 has been the year of the Xbox because of how many great games that have been coming out for this platform. One of the most anticipated games of this year is one that actually is quite different from what most of us are used to, and that’s a martial arts-themed RPG. To be honest this in my opinion is one of the hardest genre to make a game, for because people just seem so much more critical of these types of games over others. So do developers BioWare still make an impressive game? Read our full review of Jade Empire for the Xbox to find out!
First and for most I think when you look at a game such as Jade Empire I think the first thing you need to be aware of is the storyline, which does play a very essential role in the overall outcome of the game. Jade Empire has you start off by picking your character, in which you actually have a big choice (typical for RPG’s) to make right off the bat. You have three male and three female characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. For example you are going to have one character who could be considered the speedy one and another one who would rather use brute force. What this does is allows you to really play this game more then once because you are definitely going to want to see how the other characters control.
The story of Jade Empire begins once you have chosen your character, which places you as the best student at a martial arts school about to complete your training. Although you are not fully done with your training yet, you are kind of forced into the action when your assistance is needed. Without giving too much away, I must say that the storyline although interesting just seems to have been done before and for that I do wish the game would have mixed up a bit more.
While Jade Empire is an RPG due to the leveling up of skills and abilities, it plays like an action game. Luckily for those of us (including myself) who aren’t huge fans of turn-based action, this game uses a fully real-time fighting system that to be honest really does keep the action in the game alive and fresh. What is really neat about this system is that you really have to pay attention to what attacks you’re throwing at your opponents, because all opponents react differently to different attacks. What’s more amazing is that you can upgrade your character with different fighting styles, which helps to really mix up the action in the gameplay.
With all this being said, does the action in the game work as great as it sounds? Well that is kind of a tricky question. The integration of the martial arts and magic in this game really are quite fantastic. Although later on in the game things become pretty predictable (in terms of your attacks) the game does offer up enough variety to really make for a pretty diverse game. But with that being said Jade Empire is not without its slight problems. The game does suffer from a less then perfect camera, which takes a slightly uncomfortable angle when in tighter corridors or when surrounded with a lot of enemies.
But what it comes down to is the overall outlook of the gameplay, and let me tell you this game really does do a lot of great things. I must say that although you will find yourself using your favorite attack styles more then the others, the combat system in Jade Empire is just very cohesive. The combat system enables this game to shy away from being a pure button masher, and provides a strategy action experience with the RPG elements. Also the game does include some replay value with the other characters although I kind of doubt you will play this game more then twice because after the second time I think your going to see about everything this game has to offer. So to sum this whole thing up, Jade Empire is an extremely well designed game that plays like most of us would hope and that is a very fluid martial arts RPG.
As you can probably see I really did enjoy the gameplay in the game, but what about the visuals? I don’t know about you, but during the development of this game all I heard about was how gorgeous this game was going to look. So did the game end up living up to expectations?
To answer that question as plainly as I can, this game actually goes above and beyond what I honestly expected the game to accomplish. First off you can see that BioWare put in the time and effort to really make this game just stand out and really take advantage of Japanese art. Not only does the game take advantage of the art form but it also just makes some extremely gorgeous environments that are lush with color and detail. The character models are by far my favorite part of the game with there extremely unique outfits and very nicely detailed character models.
Overall the graphics of Jade Empire and just absolutely incredible. The game just does so much in terms of color and detail that I can guarantee you’re going to marvel at the visuals from start to finish.
Jade Empire is one of those games that if you like martial arts then you’re probably going to have a lot of fun with this game. The reason I say this is because you’re going to be kicking and punching and hacking and slashing your way through levels upon levels doing just that. The combat system in the game works very nicely and although it’s maybe not the deepest in the world it does a great job of making an extremely fun experience. Had the camera been a bit more refined and there been a bit more replay value, this game would have easily been one of the most entertaining games on the Xbox.
Jade Empire is quite simply a great game. Is this game going to change what you think about RPG’s? No. But if you’re a fan of these sort of action RPG’s then I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Jade Empire because the game really does have quite a lot to offer.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.