Jade Empire Review 2019: Product Specs And Pricing

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When discussions of video game industry titans comes up, BioWare is mentioned. It holds a top spot primarily for games like Mass Effect 1 and 2, and the Dragon Age series. However, BioWare has lots of other hidden gems they keep hidden way. Knights of the Old Republic? No, more obscure than that. Baldur’s Gate? Not that either. You might have guessed it, but this jade empire review will discuss Jade Empire, a 2005 Xbox game made by BioWare.

Like most BioWare games, it’s an action RPG heavy on the story elements and roleplaying aspect of the game. It involves morality systems, real time, turn based combat, and a cast of characters you will fall in love with. This jade empire review will focus on the game and what it is, what makes it good or bad, and then compare it with other, similar games.

What Is The Product? (Jade Empire)

Although Jade Empire initially released in 2005, it’s being re-released among a series of games that Microsoft decided needed a second chance. The setting is a fantasy-touched, ancient Chinese empire. You take control of the “Spirit Monk,” choosing from six different archetypes which influence how you approach different situations. You’ll be fighting with and against monsters, demons, angels, sorcerers, and everything else that comes along with Chinese mythology.

Combat is real time, similar to Knights of the Old Republic. The combat maintains most of the aspects of a typical RPG; you can heal, deflect, dodge, stun, and have a variety of means to win in combat. Like most BioWare games, there are hand-to-hand and weapon centric fighting styles, coupled with magical abilities and ranged attacks.

Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this jade empire review. The plot structure follows BioWare’s usual formula. You start at the bottom of an organization involved in important events, and some unforeseen occurrence propels you into a position of saving the world. But then the plot get’s started, and once it starts it slows down for nobody.

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The story focuses a lot on Master Li, who ends up wrenching your heart in more ways than one. Not only is the plot interesting, but it can and will suck you in. The game also features a twist worthy of a Pulitzer prize novel, and this twist will also consider the choices you made in the morality system.

Speaking of which, the morality system plays a huge role in Jade Empire. Like other BioWare games, the story isn’t stagnant. Both you and your companions are subject to making choices in the game. These choices revolve around the “Open Palm,” and the “Closed Fist,” which are ways to live your life in the game world. The interesting thing about these choices, however, is that they aren’t the everyday morality system that creates choices of being good or evil.

Instead, the Open Palm path is more concerned with selflessness, and the Closed Fist more with self preservation. Both have equally correct, logical choices you can make, but the consequences will always be drastically different. While implementing these two philosophies in the game can be somewhat brute forced at times, they’re still an interesting concept to experiment with in-game. The choices you make affect the sidequests you take up, how the story develops, and how people interact with you.

Product Specs

Jade Empire follows BioWare’s formula for action RPGs, so you won’t find anything particularly special there. It does nothing amazing in terms of innovation, aside from the setting. It breathes and feels like any other BioWare RPG, and we would go as far to say that it is a re-skin of KotR. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because as we all know, KotR is a great game. So putting an eastern flavor on it isn’t a bad idea.

Plus, the draw of the game isn’t through the combat, but rather experiencing and influencing the world, being guided by your morality system. And, the game will present you with unique choices you rarely experience in other RPGs, like murdering your own companions.

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The graphics aren’t exactly revolutionary, but the game is thirteen years old, so it gets a pass. The visuals don’t hold up very well either, but again the graphics aren’t what makes the game great. Unlike the graphics, the music is extremely good. Although it’s not creative, the choices set up the world and the environment perfectly.

RPG elements are exceptional, and the characters will cause the player to become invested if you devote even basic amounts of attention to them. Some people report problems with getting the game to run on PCs, but those issues pop up with any game that was made over a decade ago. The controls aren’t buttery smooth, either, but again these problems are normal consider the age of the game.

There have been reports of bugs in the game such as the camera getting stuck, or characters having difficulty with pathing and taking strange routes. But
even including these issues, the game is mostly bug free, or the only bugs present are minor enough to not cause any serious impact on the game.

Pricing

The game is being sold on a variety of platforms as a re-release. The Xbox Marketplace has it for $9.99, while Steam sells only the special edition for $15.00. You can also find it on third party sites like GoG for less than $5. Strangely, on Amazon the prices are extremely high, so in this jade empire review we will recommend buying it straight from Steam or the Xbox marketplace.

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Compared to other games of the genre, the price of this one runs low. But it is an old re-released game. Yet $5-10 is completely justifiable for what this game has to offer and the entertainment it will bring you. It is also worth mentioning that Steam offers the Special Edition at $15, which includes new enemies, a new map UI, more combat styles, and better resolution options.

How It Compares

We picked other similar products available on the market to see how they compare in this jade empire review. Games on this list are all highly rated among action RPGs. Something to take note of, is that both Shadowrun: Dragonfall and XCOM: Enemy Within are games that have been released recently, while Jade Empire and Avernum: Escape from the Pit are both older games that have been re-released or re-mastered. This jade empire review takes that into account when comparing the games, noting on the general quality differences due to ages of the games.

XCOM: Enemy Within​​​​​

Avernum: Escape from the Pit

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

Jade Empire

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Jade Empire is a re-released 2005 game that focuses on an eastern setting, with mythological creatures and ideals set into place. As mentioned earlier in this jade empire review, the game excels in story telling, world building and character development. The combat is average while the graphics are sub-par. For BioWare fans who are more invested in the story than the game play, you’ll like Jade Empire.

Price (Approximate only) $

Ease of Use (5 Stars)

Might have difficulties getting it to work on PC, but nothing too bad. Works fine on consoles. Bugs are present but barely noticeable.

Interactivity (4.5 Stars)

If you’re interested in RPG elements and plot, and less one combat and graphics, then this is the game for you. Because the RPG elements are some of BioWare’s best. If you’re interested in combat and graphics, this isn’t the game for you.

Screen Quality (3 Stars)

Again, this only really applies for PC. The resolution is what you would expect of such an old game. It can be manually changed through game files, but otherwise it will be a lower resolution.

  • RPG Elements
  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Morality system

XCOM: Enemy Within

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Enemy Within is a DLC pack for  the first of the recent XCOM games. The DLC only has minor variances in core gameplay, instead adding new resources, new weapons, new soldier modifications, and new side-missions and locations. However, the amount of new content it adds is huge. The pricetag seems just a tad high at $30 (on Steam), but you won’t be disappointed with the purchase.

Price (Approximate only) $$$

Ease of Use (5 Stars)

Easily installed DLC. It allows you to choose from the base XCOM menu whether you want to launch the base game, or the DLC.

Interactivity (4 Stars)

The main bulk of content from the DLC stems from new research, new modifications, and new enemies. If you liked the base game, this DLC adds tons of new toys to play with which deeply enhance the core game.

Screen Quality (5 Stars)

Runs just as good as the base game.

  • New equipment
  • New enemies
  • New research
  • New locations

Avernum: Escape From The Pit

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Avernum was originally released in 1995. The remake came out in 2011, updating compatibility, the engine, and the graphics. So if you’re a fan of some of the original, old-school RPGs, Avernum is right up your alley. While it has an enormous world with tons of lore and story, the gameplay tends to become a grind. For some people that’s a good thing, for others, not so much. The game has charm, but the graphics are what you would expect of such an old game, even after re-mastering.

Price (Approximate only) $

Ease of Use (5 Stars)

The game on Steam runs great. It was re-mastered for this purpose, so there are virtually no bugs.

Interactivity (4 Stars)

Like other, older RPGs, the graphics and sound design are nothing to behold. The core of the game lies in the RPG elements, and the combat.

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Screen Quality (4 Stars)

The updated graphics are decent but not amazing. The resolution is fine.

  • Story
  • RPG Elements
  • Customization
  • UI
  • Grindy gameplay
  • Little to no guidance

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

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Dragonfall is one of many in the line of Shadowrun games. If you like the series, you’ll love Dragonfall. It improves on the flaws that the other games had while still maintaining it’s own originality. The RPG style combat is fun, but can get repetitive at points. But it’s nothing serious. Unlike some of the other Shadowrun games, Dragonfall has interesting characters who you’ll mourn if they ever die. The plot is interesting and the characters only bolster that.

Price (Approximate only) $

Ease of Use (4 Stars)

You can get this game on iOS, Android, or PC. However, there are reports of bugs that can cause huge problems with your current playthrough.

Interactivity (5 Stars)

Like other Shadowrun games, Dragonfall is a wonderful blend of tactical, turn based combat, and engaging plot that isn’t usually found in those types of games.

Screen Quality (5 Stars)

Runs well and looks good no matter which platform. Graphics are unique and interesting, with a dark, cyberpunk aesthetic.

  • Great combat
  • Good graphics
  • Interesting story
  • Well-written characters
  • Game isn’t too long
  • Gameplay is fairly linear
  • Lots of reports of potentially game breaking bugs

Jade Empire Review – The Verdict

This jade empire review comes down to a couple of factors. If you really enjoy RPGs primarily for the RPG and story elements, then buy Jade Empire. If you are more interested in Action RPGs for the action, the Jade Empire might not be the best choice for you. Our jade empire review also compares other games, but they all offer different things.

Compared to more modern RPGs like Shadowrun which do both combat and the story well, Jade Empire doesn’t stand out. But when faced against something like XCOM, which is more combat oriented, then Jade Empire might be what you’re looking for.

Within the spectrum of modern action RPGs, Jade Empire sits at a 3.5. But considering it as a standalone game that was released many years ago, overall, Jade Empire gets a 4/5.

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