Source: Lincoln Journal Star
Written by: Aimee Hatfield
Submitted by: S.K. Sloan
When “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” was released a few years back, many people hailed it for its deep, branching storyline and different combat system.
When it came time for a sequel, however, developer BioWare passed on it, choosing instead to concentrate on a completely different role-playing game.
That new game was “Jade Empire,” and it’s now apparent that BioWare made a brilliant decision.
“Jade Empire” takes the typical role-playing game and injects it with a life and style lacking in many RPGs today.
The game takes place in ancient China, in a time when mythical creatures and spirits share the world with martial arts masters.
The story starts in a small village, which, in typical RPG style, is destroyed within the first two hours of gameplay. The main character must try to rescue his or her kidnapped mentor and find out why spirits are overcoming the mortal world.
Players can choose from one of a number of characters, specializing either in speed, strength or magic.
Anyone who has played “KOTOR” will instantly recognize “Jade Empire’s” menus and character screen. “Jade Empire” also has a similar system of recruiting followers, who can be switched in and out at will, depending on the kind of help needed.
Emphasis is on dialogue, with each conversation offering multiple response options. Many characters have plenty of back story, which they’re more than happy to gab about for five minutes if you’re willing to listen.
And that brings me to a potential negative: This game loves to talk. Gamers hoping to dive in with just what they need to know may find themselves frustrated at the amount of text they have to wade through.
In spite of this, the dialogue is well done, and a sense of humor pervades many of the characters’ monologues.
In between all that talking is lots of action.
“Jade Empire” takes a more innovative approach to combat, opting for an action-based system. Players have total control over their characters when fighting, from jumping around and over enemies to choosing when and how to hit. Fighting styles — more than 20 of them that can be unlocked — can be switched on the fly.
However, some of the momentum gained from the real-time action is halted by far-too-long loading times when passing from one area to another.
“Jade Empire” would be a good choice for casual gamers. Players can save anywhere, anytime, making it easy to jump in and out of the game. It’s also pretty short by RPG standards — around 20 hours.
The game easily could — and should — be played through more than once. Players can opt to be good in one game and evil in the next (open fist and closed fist is how the game refers to it). There also are a bunch of side quests to conquer, some of which are available only to disciples of either the open fist or closed fist.
Whether you like games for storyline or action, “Jade Empire” offers something for everybody, and it does it well. Any RPG fan would be missing out by passing on this one.
BioWare Corp., for Xbox