Jade Empire Special Edition PC Review
Finally, after all this time Jade Empire has made it to the PC. When Bioware originally released it on the Xbox it was greatly acclaimed, especially after the success of the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic; Bioware did particularly well with this title. The subsequent transition from console to PC appears to have been truly flawless. The graphics have been improved and the control system has been excellently adapted to utilise the mouse and keyboard. Jade Empire is definitely one of the best ports from console to PC. These ports are often poor, for example, ANY of the Capcom releases on the PC. Bioware have taken their time and said ‘Yes, we want PC players to enjoy this too’; I have spoken to many people who have played this conversion and they have been very impressed! If only more companies could put such passion into these ports as Bioware have done here, there would be many more happy gamers, but now onto the game.
Jade Empire takes place in Ancient China where you start out in a school practicing combat moves with a friend. After you have a little tussle with your comrade you are called to the Master. When you get to him, he explains about your past and what you have to come; here you have an opportunity whether to follow your teachings or to rebel. While you are about to find out about your future, you are interrupted and one of the students from the school reports that pirates have invaded your land. You get told to go to the blacksmith and get a weapon. When you reach him he explains there are a few different weapons and he then goes onto explain what they are and that you can try them out; if you are not happy you can try another until you are comfortable with your choice. After you choose a weapon your task is to battle the pirates and save the land. After that, an adventure so vast is set before you. The only thing you can do is to take the first step…
Now let us get into the graphics for this little gem. When you think about a game that is nearly 2 years old you would expect the graphics to look dated: far from it! The environments are rich with colour and there is a lot of detail from the ground to the buildings, even to the sky; Bioware have updated and polished what needed doing from the Xbox version. The animations of the characters are smooth and fluid. During fights, it looks like a Kung-Fu movie. The action can be fast paced and also has parts of slow motion when something really tight happens in battle. The artwork and character designs are varied and detailed. It is definitely a game you can look at and just appreciate how beautiful it really is.
The sound of the game is also quite exquisite. Everything in the game sounds like it looks. Like when fighting someone with a sword, there are realistic sword clashing noises, or with a pole there will be a realistic thudding noise and so on. The music is dynamic and dramatic; it seems to suit every scene of the game. There are a lot of varied situations during the game and each piece of music suits it perfectly. I highly recommended playing this game in surround sound or with headphones to get the feel of the game and get sucked deep into it.
The in-game controls are simply perfect, utilising the keyboard’s WASD buttons and a mouse setup that 90% of other PC games use. With a game like this, you might expect it to be point and click, or arrow keys with millions of configurations like most PC-RPG’s have. Instead the controls are simple, but the game itself has one of the deepest RPG systems to date. You can create and mould your character into the hardest martial arts fighter that Tony Ja would not even fight! You can vary what kind of character you want to be; you can be good, evil, neutral. You can be good with weapons, with magic or just with your bare hands. Such as Fable, you choose what you want to do, not your dog, not your friend, it is down to you.
With PC gaming struggling to keep up with consoles in terms of sales, this port of Jade Empire may well draw some more reluctant gamers to the format. Let us just hope that this successful port starts an avalanche of quality games that come to the PC at the same time as the console releases, not years later.
Time to concentrate and kick ass!