When Jade Empire was announced for the original Xbox console it was one of the few exclusives that was truly interesting that wasn’t a First Person Shooter (FPS). This was a chance for fans of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to experience something similar, but not a rip-off, but new and intriguing. Microsoft needed more exclusives and Jade Empire was one of the better ones they had available. Ancient China never looked so good in gaming.
Much like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and the Light/Dark Side direction, Jade Empire offers Way of the Open Palm and Way of the Closed Fist respectively. Philosophy plays a big role in Jade Empire, much like how it was handled in Star Wars: KOTOR, you are not necessarily good/evil when on either side of the median. This leads to some interesting conversation trees and character interactions as you progress in Jade Empire.
Unlike Star Wars: KOTOR though, combat in Jade Empire is in real time, not turn based. You are in direct control of your character and have to make decisions on the fly such as guard, attack, etc. There is no waiting for your turn or “breather room” as I like to call taking longer than normal to make a decision in combat.
One thing that is interesting about Jade Empire is the romance option for your character and the non-player characters (NPC) that you will encounter. You are free to work on romantic relationships with many of the characters in the game, even the same sex characters. This brings up the sexuality aspect, something that has not been addressed all that much in gaming outside of scantily clad females. It doesn’t really change the game that much but it is cool that Microsoft was allowing this open ended aspect in their games from 10 years ago. Are there any other games that offer this level of interaction?
There is far more to Jade Empire than I could write about here so you should check the links below if you are interested in ancient China or Bioware style games.
Links for Jade Empire: