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SummaryKnights of the Old Republic meets the Far East
The GoodSound and music in this game is very well done. Voice-acting is of top quality with even John Cleese making a cameo as an annoying foreigner to the Jade Empire and the Chinese-influenced soundtrack by veteran game composer Jack Wall, is perfectly suited to the game (and the soundtrack is even available for separate purchase). The storyline is another strength of the game. As RPGs go, the story for Jade Empire is refreshing as it brings a setting not frequently explored by Western RPGs, that being the world of the Orient. It also has a few twists in it which make it different to your standard D&D fare. The game is also very re-playable, as expected of a game being molded off Knights of the Old Republic. There are three possible endings as far as I know and depending on how you interact with followers in the game, their future adventures after the game's completion will vary, some even developing feelings for you. Throughout the game making Closed Fist (basically evil although intended to be the selfish path) or Open Palm (basically good although intended to be the compassionate path) choices changes the outcomes of quests and rewards you receive, further adding to the replay value. The only gripe with it is that you can't customise the look of your character much at all (in fact you have 7 choices if I recall correctly) and there are only really 3 attributes you can modify. Since the game has been out for almost two years, this has given developers plenty of time to fix bugs and combined with the fact it was a console port, there are very little bugs in the game at all. Combine this with fast area load times on the PC and relatively modest system requirements and playing Jade Empire is a generally smooth and hassle-free experience.
The BadGameplay is functional but isn't one of the game's fortes. The best aspects of the gameplay is the various ethical choices you make throughout the game that changes the world around you including the linear alignment system (ala Knights of the Old Republic with the Light and Dark side). Contrary to some reviewers (who've no doubt played the Xbox version before hand) I found some combat quite difficult, especially boss fights, but other fights were easy and involves a lot of button mashing (which is one of my gripes since I'll probably need a new mouse in the near future no thanks to this game). Areas tend to be small (which is probably the legacy of being ported from a console).
In terms of graphics, the engine is starting to age but the addition of high-res textures, bumped up resolution and post-processing effects help somewhat in keeping the game's graphics on par, if not cutting-edge, with current innovations. Fortunately though, the graphics are good enough to get you immersed into the game and the story more than makes up for it. Although there were generally no serious bugs encountered there was a minor one I experienced that occasionally occurred when you saved a game. Returning to the game would result in the camera locked at an angle where you're staring at the floor making it difficult to see where you're going! This however is acknowledged in the readme and just involves restarting the game to correct and it only happened maybe 10 times during my play through the game.