Earlier this week, I finished the game ‘Jade Empire’ in a total time of 12 hours. The game is a (fantasy) RPG, set in ancient China and is powered by the oh-so familiar Bioware engine. If you’ve played Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), you know exactly what I mean by that: it’s literally the same interface, with the exception that instead of ‘The Force’, Jade is all about martial arts. But yes, when you venture about, your actions determine if you’re going to be a follower of the ‘Open Hand’ or ‘Close Fist’ (in KOTOR, this is either White vs. Black Force). The difference between the two isn’t about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (as the game’s characters will repeat ad nauseam): it’s basically using a different approach in solving the puzzles around in the game. If you chose to solve events peacefully, you’re likely ending up to be a follower of the ‘Open Hand’.
Fair enough: I won’t go into the boring aspects of a walkthrough1: after all, my opinion comes first. While the game is graphically ‘pretty neat’, fighting enemies itself will frequently end up in repetitive. There’s also too much conversation. Too much and too long, and quite often, there’s no way of skimming through them. The game doesn’t feel ‘balanced’ either: between big and long fights ‘against bossmonsters’ and ‘venturing about’ there are hardly any power-ups, which frequently feels like you are at the whim of some kind of evil programmer from outer-space. Being killed by a ‘low-level’ monster, after a long fight against a boss monster, can be quite frustrating. The biggest disappointment is the fact that switching characters is not possible (Note that the game allows some character switching in the mini-games at the end stage).
That said, the game does have a good and original storyline (but is not without the traditional ‘computer games cliches’) and, surprisingly, does have some replayability value: even after my game ended, I noticed that I had not explored everything. There are also ‘mini-games’, which are opened after completing certain levels: some of them remind of Space invaders (which I thought was hilariously ridiculous). At the end, it’s not a brilliant game and it’s not a typical game everybody can play since it raises that ‘frustration level’. If you are not one of those patient people, you’re better off checking into ‘Fable’.
1 A walkthrough at UGO, in case you got stuck.