Jade Empire Reader Review
I often look for an enticing role playing game that not only has attractive characters, but an attractive story line. This game gives you the choice of defending your actions, be it good or evil. You are an orphan, and your master tells you that you are destined for a great conflict, a conflict which can change the whole of the Empire itself. You have the choice of 6 chacters: Three male, three female, all of which have been given their own unique names, but you may change if you like. Health, Chi, and Focus are given to each character and determine what kind of character they are (fast, strong, magic, etc). You may either accept their abilities and starting style as they are, or customize it to your liking. You start out with one support style (heavenly wave), and if customizing, between four martial styles: Legendary Strike, White Demon, Leaping Tiger, and Thousand Cuts. A short description will be given with each martial style, as to help with your choice. After this, you venture off into the small village of Two Rivers, unbeknowst to you what your future holds.
After a breif conversation and/or spar with fellow student, Jing Woo, you're left to explore the village and talk with your master. Immediatly I was fasinated with how beautiful the graphics were. If you make your character look up it looks as if you are really staring into a real sky. Little monkeys wander about the paths, and flowers blow in the wind. The nice touch of Chinese inspiried music also gives to the atmosphere that you are in a Medevial Chinese empire. As you are exploring the area you may talk with fellow students and read scrolls that grant you experience and also insight into the history of the Jade Empire. This will come very much in handy when you find that your character must make very important choices that will affect the entire world around you.
As you make your way along your journey you will be forced to choose between two paths: The Open Palm, which is the high path, or The Closed Fist, which is the low path. It is very important the player understand exactly what these paths are, and how they affect the story. Following the Open Palm means you will lend help to those who cannot help themselves. The Closed Fist, though, is one of inpatience: Following this means you beleive people should help themselves, that if they are not strong enough to survive, then they deserve their death. Not only do these decisions have huge impacts on the villages and places you go, but also on the people who follow you. As you go through the story, you will pick up followers that have their own distinct personalities, hopes, and dreams. Some may lean towards either path, so it's important that if you have a relationship with anyone (yes, you can be with the same gender), you should win their trust and faith by persuading them to be on your side.
The fighting in Jade Empire consists of quite a few different types of styles and techniques. You may use Magic, Weapons, Martial, Support, or Transformation. Magic is used to weild the power of the earth such as stone, wind, or ice. The weapons that can be used are Long Swords, Staffs, or double swords(which can be upgraded if you buy a new one). The Martial, as mentioned before, are the styles your characters begin with. A supporting style lends an effect that will weaken your opponent, but not neccessarily wound them. Transformation styles require massive amounts of chi which allow you to channel the form of demons, such as Horses or Toads. Chi can be used to power up all your fighting skills so that any one style you choose to use may be more powerful, but at the cost of draining a little chi. As you level up you will gain points which you may use to stregthen whichever attacks you like best permanently (although sometimes it may be good to save these points until you know which styles you like best since it is impossible to gain enough throughout the game to master all styles). It is also important to note that just because your character starts off with one martial style does not mean they cannot learn it later in the game, as you will find many trainers that can assist with your knowledge. Also, which path you follow can, at times, determine which style you may or may not learn.
Now for the story itself. When I began running around Two Rivers, I did not know where my path would be taken, or how it would be taken there. It seems Jade Empire was very carefully calculated, as the choices began to come before me quite quickly. It is when you leave Two Rivers to search for your friend, Dawn Star, does the story really begin to take off. Of course I will not say exactly why it began to take off (it would ruin the little surprise), but this is when the choice between OP and CF really come into play of how other characters react to you. With the followers that you gain, your character will travel through different places to find their way to the heart of the Jade Empire: The Imperial City. Be it friend or foe, there are also enough side quests in this game to keep you quite busy. It may be as simple as fending off a bully, or getting revenge on someone who did nothing to you for your own enjoyment. But no matter what path you choose, you are motivated by the great conflict your master had seen before you.
It also gives a good amount of play time, usually around 20-24 hours. Anyone who tells you they passed this game within 10 hours must be a liar, for unless they skipped all dialouge and all side quests this seems nearly impossible. Although I feel it could have been a bit longer, the 20+ hours that are given are quite entertaining: Plot twists, romances, fighting for the beleifs in your path, and of course, ultimately finding yourself being asked to either aid your empire for yourself or for the good of all, make it all worthwhile.
9 / 10