Jade Empire: Another Success From Bioware

By: sayed islam

Jade Empire made its debut back in the year 2005, and it was an action role playing game. It was created by the same team that worked on Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. This company if of course the notorious BioWare. Jade Empire was a video game that pays homage to amazing martial arts and Chinese folklore. The storyline in Jade Empire is about a protagonist who is a wannabe martial artist. Gamers are in control of an apprentice who happens to be a student of a martial arts master named Master Li. Master Li is an experienced teacher of martial arts, and he is in charge of a martial arts school known as the Two Rivers. Unfortunately, the Two Rivers is assailed by the nefarious Lotus Assassins (who are ordered by the Emperor to attack the school). After the attack, Master Li was apparently kidnapped. This is where the journey begins for the player. BioWare is a game company that develops games with a brilliant storyline, and Jade Empire was no exception to that rule. The plot is the best I have seen in any martial arts video game. Jade Empire starts with a character selection screen, (ala Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic) and this is where players can customize their character in anyway they want. There are attributes and genders that will accommodate everyone's style of play. In terms of gameplay, Jade Empire gives players control of choosing two paths. One path is the way of the closed fist, and the other path is the way of the open palm. Both paths have their pros and cons, but it is essentially about morality and immorality. The open palm was the moral pathway, and the closed fist was the immoral pathway. Your decisions will influence the game's ending, so choose wisely.

Jade Empire was unlike a conventional turned based role playing game; furthermore, you have more control than in a traditional role playing game. The combat in the game is truly where Jade Empire shines the most. There was a rudimentary fighting style, a swift style, a power attack, a surrounding attack, and a blocking mechanic. All of the attacks compliment each other well and adds a tactile feel to it. For instance, the swift attack was about lighting quick strikes in spurts that do minimal damage. The power attack is a more damaging attack that was time consuming; moreover, it can leave you vulnerable for an attack. Performing a surrounding attack does exactly what it sounds like. It is used to give you some more breathing room and momentarily clears out foes for more maneuverability. In addition, there was also something called focus and magic. The focus mode allows you to go into slow motion and anticipate your adversaries' actions ahead of time; it also allows you to use weapons. Using the magic enables you to use chi. Chi is essentially euphemism for magic. You do have three bars that show your health, chi, and focus left. So you have to apply magic and focus sparingly.
Even though there was a block button in the game, I seldom utilized it because I prefer jumping. A majority of the gameplay will entail players to execute a jump that will make your character vault over an opponents head and landing behind them. As a matter of fact, the entire game is played by using this technique: landing behind an enemy and attacking them. The lack of challenge was a major gripe I had with the game. Some other flaws with the game were the artificial intelligence and conspicuously long load times. Players can bring a follower to tag along for the ride, but it is not helpful. The ally artificial intelligence in the game was bizarrely abysmal. They can be set to support or attack; however, all of the partners act like asinine robots. The load times did take the players out of the action for too long. It was fairly easily to fight, but it was still engrossing. One of the most satisfying gameplay moments was accomplishing a harmonic combination maneuver. This is intrinsically a finishing move that leaves enemies in a pool of their own blood. There is a watered down leveling up system in the game that will disappoint many role playing game fans, but I thought is was fine. The graphics in the game were stunning for its time. All of the environments had rich textures, and I found myself stopping frequently to enjoy the scenery. It is not only the environments; it is also the effects. For example, characters will pulsate when trying a special magic attack. Enemies would start gushing blood when they were crushed, and monsters looked menacing. Even the little things like how entering focus mode made the entire screen turn gray to signify a boost in dexterity. The sound is remarkable as well. Every character that you interact with has dialogue that is spoken. The music does a fantastic job of enhancing the gaming ambiance. Jade Empire had a long single player campaign that will take the average player twenty hours to complete. Jade Empire does have its shortcomings, but the pros override the cons. Overall, Jade Empire is a exemplary game that will provide gamers with a better appreciation for martial arts.

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