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Jade Empire out next week

Microsoft confirms a European release date of April 22 as American gamers go mad for it and sequel talk emerges.

Despite odd rumour that's been knocking about lately, Microsoft has confirmed that Jade Empire, its martial arts-based Xbox RPG, will indeed go on European release next Friday.

Jade Empire is developed by Bioware, the people behind the likes of Star Wars: KOTOR and Neverwinter Nights. It's set in a mysterious and ancient land that's not unlike China, and to begin with the player must train long and study hard to master the ancient art of decking people whilst looking cool.

He or she will then embark on an epic journey that will take them from the desolate mountains of the Land of Howling Spirits to the lush gardens of the Imperial City to a load of other places, meeting powerful foes from both the human and supernatural realms and kicking them in. Whilst looking cool.

Jade Empire hit US stores (that's American for "shops") today, and the yanks have gone mental for it. Not surprising, really, since the release follows a huge wave of hype and anticipation comparable almost to that which preceded Prince Charles' wedding. The first one, obviously.

The game is already a hit on Amazon US, with only World of Warcraft to beat as the site's top-selling title at present, and it's also said to be flying out of high street shops. Or rather "malls".

Jade Empire will be go on sale in Europe with an RRP of £39.99, but for an extra fiver you can have the Limited Edition (bonus character, bonus fighting style, making of videos and spankier box).

According to US website IGN, a sequel for Xbox 360 is already planned - we'll keep you posted.