Yayınlanma: 25 Şubat
I decided to play Jade Empire after having played the KOTOR games multiple times, Mass Effect 2 and 3, and Dragon Age: Origins. I was on a BioWare binge, and needed more of what made those games so special. In short, Jade Empire is a decent game, but a relatively weak effort from a company that has done so much better.Graphics
: The graphics are a highlight of the game, even if somewhat dated today. The worlds are rich and colorful, the game has its own unique art style, and it's fun to see the different special powers and items in play.Level design
: For those of you familiar with KOTOR, the level design will remind you at times of certain worlds in that series. BioWare is very good at creating an atmosphere or "feel" with their level designs and this is no exception. However, there aren't all that many worlds to explore in comparison to BioWare's other games. KOTOR II, which was released a year before this game, contained over 7-8 different worlds, not including shorter stages. Jade Empire barely has 5, and not even the supposedly grand Imperial City is quite as large or expansive as Nar Shaddaa. (It comes across as more of a small village than anything.) I could compare it to watching an older Hollywood film - one can often tell that the sets are as large as the view of the camera; one step to the right and you're in a studio. Similarly, the limited nature of some of these areas makes them feel less authentic.Sound
: The music is enjoyable enough and fits the artistic theme of the game. However, it is mostly forgettable, with one notable exception - the Imperial Palace theme ("Anthem of a Tyrant"), which invokes a bit of a Darth Vader or Don Fanucci vibe. The voice acting is decent (albeit a little cartoony at times), and I had no complaints about the sound effects.Story and characters
: I did not find either the story or the characters particularly original or compelling. However, that is not to say that there are no highlights; Hou has some smirk-worthy moments as a repressed husband and Silk Fox leads an interesting dual life. But other characters are defined by single traits: Dawn Star, for instance, is the generic good-hearted heroine with no flaws, and the Black Whirlwind is drunk and roguish. Things get especially cringe-inducing when the game tries to shoehorn a backstory into the latter. Unlike Dragon Age, which contains multi-layered characters, or Mass Effect, which explores personal changes through the game's arc, the characters here are fairly static and uninteresting.
Plot-wise, the game borrows a critical element from KOTOR II without coming up with many creative plot ideas, so hardcore BioWare fans won't be too thrilled with the game's writing. Unfortunately, hardcore BioWare fans are the group most likely to try this game.Gameplay
: The gameplay heavily revolves around combat, which heavily revolves around melee attacks, which heavily revolve around incessant clicking of the mouse. There are moments when strategy is involved, usually when facing off against multiple strong enemies. In addition, the PC can learn a couple of ranged attacks and possess weapons, but the selection is disappointingly limited and you'll find yourself resorting to the same two or three fighting styles over and over. Not to mention, almost every conflict in the game is resolved through combat, which grows tiresome. The enemies often take twenty hits to go down, which tests not one's skills but one's patience. Furthermore, some levels contain dozens of battles with groups of the same kind of enemy (often respawning!). However, there are a few battles in the game that require more creativity to fight, and although they do not dominate most of the game's combat, brawling with these foes can be very enjoyable.
I think that the game in general relied too much on combat, while devoting little attention to gameplay through dialogue/choices, strategy, etc. In addition, the combat itself was not varied enough for me to forego this issue - I found myself terribly bored throughout the third act in the game, simply tolerating each battle just to get to the end.
The game does implement an alignment system, but it seems to matter a lot less than in other BioWare titles. At the end of the day, combat is Jade Empire's main feature, and it's not as fun as one might expect or hope.Final verdict
- The combat is often repetitive, some characters are flat, and the game feels disappointingly short and lacking in an engaging plot. However, despite these flaws, there are some well-designed environments, and the originality of the artwork and setting is a strong point. If there's a Jade Empire 2, BioWare needs to recognize this one's limitations. Jade Empire had the potential to be a great title, but given the drawbacks outlined above, I can only call it decent. I would recommend it to dedicated BioWare fans, but not really anyone else.
Oh, and the flyer levels - really, Bioware? You thought it was a good idea to implement scrolling shooter stages?