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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful Masterpiece

Author: pepperfluffball from United States
4 May 2005

Every gamer and I mean everybody should play this game, especially RPG and action/adventure fans.

It has a brilliant, wonderfully crafted story, great voice acting, fantastic characters (and development), great dialogue, shocking plot twists and surprises, cool and easy to learn battle system, gameplay that is so well done, great graphics, locations, visuals, enemies/monsters, I could go on forever. Just buy it, you will not be disappointed in the least bit.

There is at least 40 or more hours of gameplay and three different endings, for the different alignments you are. The overall story without the sidequests isn't too long (around 20 hours or so) but with the sidequests, you can easily play for much much longer, and the sidequests are just as fun and worthwhile. They add to the story as well.

Once you begin the game, you won't want to stop playing. I know I didn't. It has great replay value just like the KOTOR series. Female and male, good or bad. I played it four times and I still played it two more times just because it's so much fun and engrossing. It's also compelling, dramatic and emotional, entertaining, exciting, funny at times, original, and smart.

Bioware has made their next masterpiece.

I would give it a 9.6 out of 10. Just fantastic.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

"KOTOR"-Free Review

Author: sadie_thompson from United States
31 May 2005

I have never played "Knights of the Old Republic" so you won't find any comparisons to that game here. However, you will read the opinion of a pretty satisfied gamer.

First off--I love anything Chinese, be it food, films, or pseudo-Chinese video games. This is pseudo-Chinese in that it takes famous Hong Kong cinematic elements such as kung-fu and interesting character names yet for some reason shies away from actual Chinese culture. I have heard people complain about that, but it doesn't really bother me. I get a kick out of people calling themselves things like "Sun Li the Glorious Strategist" and being serious about it.

Pros (and there are several, in my opinion): The game is beautifully designed--the environments are often stunning and the character models look great. (Side track--doesn't Wu the Lotus Blossom look kinda Michelle Yeoh-like? Or is it just me?) Even the bad guys look marvelous. The demon-type villains are frightening yet wonderful to look at. Another pro is the nifty ability to stick your nose into everybody's business. In fact, you're practically required to. If you see someone crying, you just might earn some money by asking him or her why, and then settling their problems for them. You can take one of two routes in most of the situations. You can follow "The Way of the Open Palm" (which is what I'm doing, former Girl-Scout that I am) or you can be wicked and follow "The Way of the Closed Fist." Both are pretty self-explanatory and in the game it's almost painfully easy to distinguish which response goes with which path. I haven't yet ventured into evil, but it seems that choosing the other path could actually make for some pretty big gameplay differences. Another customizable feature is the conversation skill. You can choose to intimidate, charm, or just be intuitive. It's always fun to see how the person you're talking to reacts. And it gets better--bad guys react to different voice tones than good guys, which is expected.

The combat is touted as the central aspect of the game, since kung-fu has revealed itself to Americans has an art form. (Many people refer to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" when talking about this game--it isn't that dull.) There are oodles of different styles to choose and they each fall under different headings--magic, martial arts, support, or weapons-based. It is essential to swap styles mid-fight, so consequently you can orchestrate some pretty showy fights with multiple stances. If you swap styles at the right time, you can dish out some serious damage. However, if your opponent is invulnerable to that style, you will accomplish nothing. Therefore, it's always good to try all styles on everything to see what hurts it most. You can swipe at ghosts with your sword 'til the cows come home but you won't make a dent in their health bars. You have to change styles and see what sends 'em reeling.

There is some great voice acting in this game as well. (Kim Mai Guest makes her appearance in it--she's in TONS of video games.) I think all of it is pretty good, as it usually fits the character, I didn't notice any repetition, and the dialogue is well-written. (And the characters words come very close to matching their lips.) I have noticed several laugh-out loud moments, usually when my character chose the wrong conversation style (I tried intuition and it didn't work).

The last pro--the Dragonfly minigame. It's a beautiful yet simple top-down shooter. You just shoot enemy flyers as they make elegant patterns around the screen.

Cons--Why does everyone insist on scratching his or her head when speaking with you? Is something going around? Every time you gain a follower they start the head-scratching. I guess it's a gesture to add realism, but nobody itches that much. Second (and this is a matter of opinion, it doesn't bother me), there is a gargantuan amount of dialogue, and lots of it is unskippable. The plot is very important to the game, and how are you going to move it along without saying anything? Taking on all the side quests adds a huge amount of dialogue, especially if you keep saying the wrong things. One con that seriously irritated me, but I can see why it's there. Everyone else talks on endlessly, but your character doesn't speak. I guess it's because four hundred times more recording would have been required to come up with all the answers your character can make. I just felt kind of distant from everyone else. (Actually, your character will yet out style changes during fights, but that's the only time you'll hear them.) The second-to-last con, and it's enough to annoy anybody, are the frequent load times. Quest fulfillments take ages. Your character can sprint through the whole game until you run into one of those load times. I don't guess it's too annoying, but I was afraid I'd forget who I was headed to see and what we were supposed to discuss. Last con, and it's inconsequential--The fake language created for the game. Only certain people speak it, and it seems to be pretty random. For instance, two people are having a conversation when you walk up. Speaking to one, you find that she speaks English. Chatting to the other reveals that they don't. What were they speaking in before you showed up? (Personally, I think the fake language could have been eschewed in favor of Mandarin Chinese. It has a fantasy sound to it and the developers could have saved some time--it was created ages ago.) All in all, a game easily recommended to almost anybody.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Bioware does it again.

Author: MitchellTF from United States
29 April 2005

How can I say this? Bioware does it again. It's a fun game, with a great fighting system, fun characters, and an interesting plot.

Who DOESN'T like the "comic relief sadist", and Sky, the smart aleck thief. Heck, even Zu gets some nice lines. Plus, characters often have interesting "twists" which adds to the fun.

All in all, I'm hard-pressed to find flaws...You can switch styles, which prevents boredom, and even get a GUN! I cannot find a reason NOT to play it, other than the fact that it REALLY needs a "script" downloadable...because of the cool quotes! Are you playing this yet? THEN GO BUY IT!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Very original and great!

Author: mpanagiotis from United States
8 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is probably the best game I own for my XBOX. The only game I like more than this is Halo. I bought this game used last summer for twenty dollars, and it was worth every penny.

The graphics are nothing less than breathtaking. The voice acting is beautifully done and all the voices match what the character should sound like.

The only downside to this game is that it is a bit easy and the martial styles are very simple. The loading screens can be a bit long, especially when fighting in the arena. These are the only real problems with the game.

The story is very well written and original. Of course, a teacher, Master Lee, being more than what he appears is used a lot. The story was so good I have played through this game three times, and I am just starting to get all the additional storyline, i.e. romancing characters like Dawn Star and Silk Fox.

I can keep talking about this game forever, but you need to play this game to find everything out. Buy this game if you like RPG's or action games.

Basically a few things in this game keep it from being perfect. Buy it and love it. 10/10

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant design, brilliant structure... brilliant game!

Author: Danny Keaton from Australia
29 April 2006

This game is great! Other people will talk about other things, so there is no point covering exposed ground, so I will talk about my favourite part of Jade Empire, the voice acting. Superb all the way through and expertly acted. I recognized so many voices from movies through it, from Brian Doyle-Murray's minor squeaky voiced part in Groundhog Day to Nathan Fillion's lead role in the celebrated Firefly series and Serenity movies.

You will be sucked in all the way through and months later you will be watching a movie and know you can recognize a voice from somewhere... then kick yourself for not knowing that same actors voice was Simon Templeman when you first played Jade Empire! Besides the expertly delivered voice acting, the rest of the game is top notch. You will be sucked into a deep Asian delight, from the real life martial arts styles to the stunning style of graphics. Trust me this is an amazing game and if you don't like RPG's then Jade Empire is the perfect one to convert you.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting

Author: petra_ste
26 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One might make a case that any game in which you can verbally spar with a John Cleese- voiced obnoxious twit is automatically worth playing. Still, the quest ends with an absurdly overpowered weapon as a reward - and that's Jade Empire in a nutshell: flashes of brilliance mixed with unbalanced combat.

Neither one of BioWare's finest RPGs (the Baldur's Gate saga, Mass Effect 1&2, Dragon Age: Origins, KOTOR) nor of their weakest efforts (Dragon Age II, NWN OC), Jade Empire is elevated by its fresh, original setting, inspired by a mythological version of ancient China of a "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" wuxia flavor. I like Tolkien as much as the next guy, but for once it's nice to have fox spirits and ninjas instead of elves and orcs.

There is much emphasis on combat (real-time, action-oriented), which unfortunately isn't that great. A few initial styles are pretty much deadly already, and some later powers - cue the infamous Jade Golem stance, the closest thing to a "I win" button I've ever seen in a RPG - so hideously overpowered that the game might as well have skipped to the end credits the moment you obtain them. It's like adding to the rock-paper-scissors hand game a fourth shape (let's call it the Death Star) which trumps all others: you have no reason to use anything else, if not as a self-imposed challenge.

Still, characters, dialogues and plot are compelling enough, and there are a few effective twists and choices, with a morality system focused, more than on a good/evil dichotomy, on a predecessor of the paragon/renegade system seen in Mass Effect.

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An underrated and overlooked gem

Author: Nikhil Hirani
9 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Note: This review is for the Special Edition of the game released for PC and Xbox 360.

Jade Empire is the type of game you can start playing on a Sunday morning and continue to play till it gets over, no matter the time it takes to complete. It took me 40 hours to complete the game (that's how big it is).

Anyways the games starts with a character selection (as do all the RPGs). You can choose the character gender, character class, but you cannot customize the character in detail.

To summarize the story: You are the last of the Spirit Monks, an order dedicated to the Water Dragon, a spirit who guides the dead to the heaven or hell. The Emperor killed the Water Dragon and used its spirit to become powerful and end the drought that affected the Empire 20 years ago. Your Master, who is revealed to be the Emperor's brother, saved you as an infant, fled away and trained you. He gets kidnapped and you have to rescue him. The dead don't go back to being dead and instead become ghosts going mad. Your objective is to rescue your Master, help the spirit of Water Dragon and end the destruction caused by the ghosts.

Since it is an RPG, you can choose to be the good or the bad guy. Similar to KOTOR, you have the Open Palm (similar to the Light Side of the Force) and the Closed Fist (the Dark Side) morality system, which is pretty black and white with very few gray shades. Be good and honorable and you get Open Palm points; be a jerk and you get Closed fist points.

The story is good and the cast of supporting characters are interesting as well as annoying, but not boring (Kang, Zu, Black Whirlwind are my favorite supporting characters). However the story after Act 5 becomes too cliché, melodramatic and the twist in the tale (your master is the bad guy and most of your supporting characters are related to each other in some way) felt unnecessary. Also the romance system feels unnecessary and I avoided that. However the side missions is where the game shines. There is much variety to them and greatly expand the universe of the game.

The fighting game play is pretty varied. You can choose from various martial arts styles, weapons and magic styles and even transform into an animal demon or ghost. Your three attributes are Health, Chi and Focus which can be leveled up. Health is self explanatory, while Chi is used for magic spells, healing yourself and dealing more damage with weapons and martial styles; Focus is for using weapons and entering slow motion where you can deal more damage and become faster. Your followers have various skills (you can only choose one follower at a time) and you can command them to fight alongside you or enter support mode, where they won't fight but your attributes will be recharged over time or you will deal more damage with various styles.

The game boasts of a real time fighting system, but that is simply not the case. It is simply an evolution of the turn based combat from KOTOR. During the fights, your character doesn't do what you want him/her to do or does it seconds later, after your previous moves have been completed. The fighting is pretty good though and you will love it. The abundance of various styles is overwhelming at first, but soon you will pick your favorites and master them. The enemies are varied, ranging from bandits, assassins, royal guards, animal demons, goblins, spirits, ghosts, cannibals and even stone men.

If I really had to nitpick, there are no cheat codes for the game and that this is not a complete open world game - There are only two areas to explore - a small town and a big city (which is actually pretty small). You cannot visit certain areas you have finished and the last part of the game blocks you from exploring. Compared to KOTOR, this is a disappointment...

I highly recommend installing the Jade Empire in Style mod when playing a new game. In addition to adding various new styles and armor sets, it also fixes the fighting and the style points system and makes game play more fun. I wouldn't go back to the "vanilla" version of the game after playing this mod.

So to summarize the game:

The Good-

Soundtrack, graphics, fighting game play (especially after the Jade Empire in Style mod), characters and side missions.

The Bad-

The cut-scenes (badly rendered and you cannot skip them). The Boss fights (the Emperor, your Master and Death's Hand are easily defeated, whereas the Lotus assassins and animal demons and spirits are much tougher. The only boss fight I enjoyed was Raging Ox and Kai the Serpent). Black and white morality system. Story goes for a toss in the last few hours.

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Probably BioWare's weakest game

Author: WakenPayne from Valhalla
30 August 2015

I love games by BioWare. I remembered completing KOTOR when I was 8 years old and I recently discovered my love for science fiction with the Mass Effect games. I haven't played any of the Dragon Age games though... yet but aside from those I have played every single one of their games since 2003. However in terms of their games on their own this is actually one of the weaker BioWare entries but trust me when I say compared to their usual standards this means nothing in terms of quality.

You are the last of the Spirit monks. a race of people that have the ability to keep the balance between life and death and even go so far as to have miraculous powers. You are trained at a class of martial artists by someone who claims to have rescued you from the empire massacring the Spirit monks when you were an infant which means that now people who have died won't go to the Spirit world and the Emperor is responsible. While fighting off an annoying student that tells his father who's in close ties with The Emperor about this and also that your master is really his brother, So after recruiting 2 people to your party and killing the annoying student you find out that your town has been fire bombed and your master kidnapped. So you fly around the empire, recruit people and help restore everything from chaos.

Okay, the characters are the worst in a BioWare game (which again translates to not bad but it could have been great). If you pick this game up looking for something on par with Juhani redeeming herself from going to the Dark side in KOTOR, Wrex trying to bring his species reputation up a bit from violent savages, Mission's home-world being destroyed right before our eyes or Thane doing a good last act before dying then there is almost nothing here that is even close. The most interesting character by far is Wild Flower - she has no identity as a creature native to the spirit world ties itself to her throughout life and even helps her to stop from dying. That's an interesting character. All the rest are next to being bland caricatures. It's all "We must stop the Emperor for some reason or another". Each is interesting if I told you it on it's own but almost every single character has some kind of past with these guys that just gets old - when you get down to it, it's revenge, redemption all that stuff and while there is some character development outside of that - I barely remember these characters and being that I can name every character from all their other games without thinking - that is saying something.

The combat though is excellent. It is the best until either Dragon Age or Mass Effect 2. Basically controlling the D-Pad to select what fighting style you want and different buttons in combat do a Max Payne-ish bullet-time and a button to heal you. There really is strategy involved in doing the combat in terms of mixing and matching styles and weapons to ensure you win fights. I also like your character's fixed story arc as he goes on through the story. The graphics are outright beautiful and by far the most memorable fight is where you fight John Cleese... If being in an RPG where you can talk to a Python isn't a selling point - I don't know what is.

I also enjoyed the mini-game touch. If you decide to attack as opposed to avoid the Empire you are treated with an Atari or NES style mini game where ships fly in from the left right and top of the screen while you shoot them down. If you are a nostalgic gamer for this type of game then these mini games while not perfect would be a very nice homage or nod to them.

I also have to point out nitpick(s). The credits are un-skippable, Henpeckled Hou's wife and voice overs aren't funny at this point, the jokes got really old and tiresome anyway with almost every line of dialogue insulting her in some way. I find this funny because of all the jokes in the game this was the one that wasn't funny to me. Oh and the betrayal about a third away from the end, it was nowhere near a surprise considering the character's nickname.

Basically while it has the formula for being a great BioWare game it is no wonder why this never really made it anywhere. The combat really is more of the selling point to this game and while some of the characters may get interesting what usually happens to them is you exhaust their dialogue options too quickly and barely have to talk to them for the rest of the game.

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Good short game with great ambiance but weak points

Author: owen_twistfield from Alkmaar
4 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Summary Jade Empire is a beautiful looking game with a proper plot with twists supported by good sounds and visuals. The mood is great, the supporting cast is diverse and interesting. The combat is basic, maybe to simple for experienced gamers. Replayability is low, despite the option to choose from several starting characters and the option to play a new level of difficulty. No new content is opened up and you are forced to the same combat options regardless of the character chosen.

I bought this game in the first half of 2007. After I installed the game and started it I was struck by the atmosphere. It breathed the ambiance of an ancient Asiatic empire. I was especially impressed by the way the music changes with the setting while keeping the music in Asiatic style. (Spooky in graveyards, impressive in the imperial city, dreamy when walking through the grasslands.)The visuals are also beautiful with for instance grass and flowers moving with the wind and water running down the side of a mountain into a small lake.

The way the story evolves is interesting, it's has some nasty twists. While the main story follows a single path with no options to choose from, you are allowed to choose between two or even three options in side quests. These side quests are varied in content.

The supporting cast of characters is varied and interesting. Many of them have interesting tales to tell and you can even have a romantic affair.

The good thing is that Jade Empire sets down a very good stage for the player to act upon. But balanced by this are some lesser aspects to the game.

For one thing: it has a feeling of being unbalanced. Most of the talking happens in the first chapters of the game. In fact I guess that two thirds is concentrated in the Imperial City and Tien's Landing, with the imperial city easily taking half of all non-violent interaction. After leaving the imperial city the story is just a single path of combat to the end, before Tien's Landing it has the feel of an introduction.

That the game is actually longer than it has content is partly because there is much repeated. Especially this is true for Tien's Landing. Everybody tells you about disaster the town experiences: the same line's are used over and over. Another annoying feature is that while movies are made to skip, cut-scene's are not. This is aggravating when the cut-scene directly results in a difficult combat scene. When you die you have to view the cut-scene again. This is especially true for battles against the powerful monsters like Death's Hand or the final battle in the arena in the imperial city. Indeed it looks like the more difficult a battle is the longer the cut scene is.

A second thing is the combat. On the face of it the combat offers enough different options, amongst it something called styles. But many styles are superfluous.

The first reason being that most styles are only obtainable when you progress through the game and some come late in the game. Since you need to spent skill points to develop styles to more effectiveness you find out you only have enough to develop the styles you got early in the game. Besides it is a guess each and every time how effective a new style is and you can't reuse skill points already spent.

The options are even reduced because monsters are immune to some styles. In fact the basic style you start out with affect the most monsters. In addition the effectiveness of styles are reduced because the more advanced ones cost magic points(called chi) while the basic one's are free to use. Especially powerful styles are an enormous drain on your chi and can only be used for short while. The options are strange: advanced styles cost chi to work and affect less targets and sometimes don't do much more damage.

The most disappointment I felt with the weapons styles. I created a character which mainly used weapon styles. But I found out I got stuck after a while. The reason was that you need to buff both chi and focus when using such a character. This is because chi is used for healing next to powering style's, so you need to have chi regardless of the style chosen. So when using weapons you need to buff two stats while if you use basic and magic styles you can concentrate on one stat. In addition you can actually choose a style that regenerates chi, but there is no style that does the same for focus. And finally weapons styles don't affect ghosts and, because of the plot, there are a lot of ghosts in this game.

In other words, while there is potentially a lot to choose from in reality your options are limited to a small set of well developed styles and some you choose for fun or spent points by accident.

There is one other weak feature, that is the unlock-able Jade Master difficulty. When you have gone through the game you can replay it in Jade Master difficulty with the stats and styles you ended the first game with. There is however no new content or new things to find or develop. What changes is that the monsters have way more hit points and hit harder. What not happens: you don't hit harder and all the magic and support style's you and your enemies do the same damage as in the basic game. Since there isn't a way to improve the skills beyond the basic set you find that the battle's just take longer to complete. These battle don't get interesting alas, they tend to bore.

Nevertheless besides these weak point it is an entertaining game that, when due time has passed can be replayed.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Worth a try!

Author: gerifan04 from United States
9 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Just to be safe I put the "Spoiler" warning up. I don't know if I'll need to use any but it doesn't hurt to be safe than sorry) If you like playing action and/or RPG games you'll really like "Jade Empire". It's got a heavy oriental theme which I think only helps build up the RPG aspect. But before I start rambling, let me break it down: Pros: Easily learned button controls(I don't know about you, but having games where I have to press A + B + R trigger + Left thumbstick up...just gets annoying and in heated battle, it's hard to remember). Another "pro" are the beautiful graphics and sound. The graphics are quite polished and rarely get "choppy" like other heavily detailed games. The sound matches the game and setting quite well. Another plus is that the sound never overpowers the game or gets so bad one is distracted. Another "pro" would be the *excellent* interactive dialog. And the voice work is some of the best I've seen. The story itself is quite long and I find myself being just as interested in the dialog and movie scenes as I do in the quests and fights.

Cons: In a game so great there isn't many. But, nothing is without it's flaws. I would say that the lack of PC voice is a drawback. I understand it would've been a huge task to record all of the speech needed for all our possible choices, but it would've been nice. Also, if you're like me, character customization is a HUGE factor in any RPG. You can customize their starting traits and skills. But down expect much else. Oh, and you can choose which of like 6 characters you want(and you can rename them). But like with similar RPGs(The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, comes to mind) you have a lot of customization of the overall look, hair, face, clothing etc... But Jade Empire skips that. And I've never been able to totally immerse(sp) myself in a game like I can when it's truly, a unique and personalized character.

So that's it. While the cons paragraph looks quite large, they're really not all that horrid as to make me question purchasing the game. And while it isn't a "con" in my eyes, the amount of dialog could seem annoying and boring to some gamers. So as with any game, I recommend borrowing it or renting it, first. That way you'll be certain this is the game for you(and i doubt there will be many of you who don't buy it hehe).

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