Jade Empire: Nitpicks

By Shamus
on Apr 16, 2007
Filed under:
Game Reviews

How am I supposed to write a nitpick post about this game? It’s like, yeah this supermodel and I went out last night. We ate at a five-star restaurant and then we went back to her house. I played Guitar Hero on her PS3 while she played backup for me on a real, actual guitar, on which she is a virtuoso. But then she didn’t have any of the bonus packs for the game and I was tired of all the original songs so I just went home. Still, as I have noted before, complaining about videogames is part of what I do here, and I refuse to be denied my pleasure because the game doesn’t have anything worth complaining about.

The nitpicks, in no particular order:

It doesn’t make sense the Jia had the last part of the amulet. Wouldn’t she have given it to the Emperor? They had ready access to airships and he was keen on getting it.

I really would have liked to be able to change clothes or customize my character. Since part of the plot takes place in pre-rendered cutscenes, the character had to remain static in order to match the pre-rendered stuff. Now that the game has been ported to the PC, (and thus we are no longer limited to television resolution) the pre-animated stuff isn’t that much better looking than the game itself. Some might argue that the realtime stuff looks better. It’s certainly crisper. Still, it would have been fairly expensive to change this for the PC and I don’t fault Bioware at all. I just… you know, wish.

In KOTOR you could have two companions at a time. This seemed like a perfect number to me. Some games allow larger parties, and that gets too crowded. Jade Empire takes this down to one companion at a time, which means your friends rarely get the chance to talk to each other. I kind of miss that dynamic.

There are a few minor bugs. When moving to a new area, sometimes the camera ends up facing straight down. A quick save & load fixes this without losing any progress, and the bug is pretty rare, but I hope they fix it all the same. Once in a while a patch of fog will blink in and out of view, which is distracting. Other than these few hiccups, the game is flawless. I never saw any broken / buggy quests.

But my biggest lament is that I wish there was more of it. A single play-through takes between twenty and twenty-five hours. Sure, you will probably go through it more than once, but I felt like the game needed a longer first act. I would have liked to spend another hour or so in Two Rivers and the surrounding area. However, if given the choice between short and perfect (Jade Empire) or long and unfinished (Oblivion, Neverwinter Nights 2) there isn’t any debate. I’ll take the shorter experience every single time. Still, I wouldn’t have minded if the game just padded things out with a little more combat, just to stretch out the experience ladder a bit. And while we’re asking the genie for more wishes, I would have liked another town between Tien’s Landing and the Imperial City.

Yeah, this is a pathetic list of nitpicks, and it makes me seem sort of petty for even bringing them up. Still, this is what you get when you put out an excellent game: The thing is nearly unassailable.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!



12There are a dozen comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Henebry says:

    That supermodel scenario/metaphor is deeply geeky. I love it.

  2. Rick says:

    “There are a few minor bugs. When moving to a new area, sometimes the camera ends up facing straight down. A quick save & load fixes this without losing any progress, and the bug is pretty rare, but I hope they fix it all the same. Once in a while a patch of fog will blink in and out of view, which is distracting. Other than these few hiccups, the game is flawless. I never saw any broken / buggy quests.”

    I had one. I had to turn the graphics settings all the way down in order to get the combat with the mock-British knight to work. Other than that, though, it worked great.

  3. The Gneech says:

    When you’re fighting Sir Cleesealot, your best bet is to go straight into Focus mode and run over and punch the snot out of him anyway … who needs graphics? ;)

    -The Gneech

  4. Matt says:

    Gneech: It doesn’t work that way. The floor doesn’t load, so you can’t fight him at all. You just stand there and spin around slowly. I had the graphics turned down all the way anyhow, so I had to skip that quest.

    I got a lot of bugs with this game… it didn’t really stop me from enjoying it, but I guess this is what I get for trying to use a computer that’s a bit more than a year old to play a port of an xbox game that’s even older. Hell of frustrating.

  5. thark says:

    “the pre-animated stuff isn’t that much better looking than the game itself. Some might argue that the realtime stuff looks better. It’s certainly crisper.”

    Frankly (and speaking generally now, not of JE in particular), they could be the prettiest cutscene movies ever made, I still would rather have everything done with the ingame engine. I thought so even back in the days of pretty primitive in-game graphics, but do so even more now.

    When there’s a clear break from “now I’m playing the game” to “now everything looks slightly different”–even if the different is actually better, maybe just something like animation rate–it breaks my immersion.

    Yeah, it’s a pet peeve. No, I don’t expect everyone to agree.

    • Nalgas says:

      “When there’s a clear break from “now I’m playing the game” to “now everything looks slightly different”–even if the different is actually better, maybe just something like animation rate–it breaks my immersion.”

      That’s always bugged me, too. Yeah, I’m a few years late to the party, but I at least played the game in 2007…and when I did, it ran perfectly with every setting maxed out at 1920×1440 on my very mid-range 8600 GT. The transition from that to pre-rendered cutscenes at 640×480 was extremely jarring and looked absolutely terrible. It still bugs me in stuff like Mass Effect, where it at least looks almost as good as the in-engine stuff, but it’s still lower resolution upscaled and full of compression artifacts and feels out of place. I really don’t mind losing a couple fancy lighting effects or whatever if that’s what it takes to get stuff like that done in-engine so it feels like it’s still part of the game instead of detached from it.

  6. Luke says:

    I was slightly annoyed by some of the camera movements in combat. Say you are doing a combo on a guy and you push him into the upper edge of the area which is a wall. While you are doing your thing another guy sneaks up on your from the back. You kill the first guy, and now your character automatically targets the guy behind you. The camera tries to do a quick 360 but since your are standing next to a wall, it does something weird and disorienting most of the time as it aligns itself.

    Also, when I was on the pirate island, one enemy got stuck in the doorway that I had to use. He was from a party that ambushed me in the Mad Engineer’s workshop. I could not attack him, talk to him, or walk past him.

    Loading the game and fighting this sequence once more fixed it.

    I totally agree with the 2 followers thing. I noticed that if I set my follower into attack mode, pretty much had no serious issues fighting with any big groups of low level grunts. But when I used one in support mode, I often found myself overwhelmed by large groups and I wasted much more Chi healing myself that using cool combat styles.

    It would have been nice to have one character in attack mode, and one in support mode.

  7. Den Store Frelser says:

    I found the endgame to be pretty weak. There’s one choice for bad guys, and one for good guys, and that’s it. This late in the game, with no way of going back to any other part of the game (With the exception of Lord Lao’s Furnace), you really should have been allowed to either kill the good guys in your party or just leave them behind when they go “zomg dethzhand is teh sux”. You’re forced to let them live when they disobey you as an evil would-be overlord, and you’re forced to throw away Death’s Hand as a boy scout.

    This REALLY annoyed me, especially because they had a line of neutral arguments for keeping him when deciding on whether to keep him or not inside the temple. Another weak point is that everyone’s happy at the end, even though you made them your slaves to keep them in line.

  8. Tola says:

    It doesn’t make sense the Jia had the last part of the amulet. Wouldn’t she have given it to the Emperor? They had ready access to airships and he was keen on getting it.

    She DID-That’s how he’s been sapping even more strength from the Water Dragon, though it’s been GHASTLY slow because they only had one piece. She and the Assassins had it there as a trap for you. They were hoping to kill you AND get the other two parts in one fell swoop. Would have worked too, if not for Zu burying Death’s Hand.

    To recap:

    Piece one: Emperor’s.
    Piece two: Lost in Tien’s Landing.
    Piece three: Stolen by Li, given to you.

  9. Jordan says:

    I once had a bug where three guys were in the path and, being in kind of a hurry, I raced right past them, giving my companion just enough time to kill one of them. When I returned to the area after completing the quest, the remaining two were still there, staring stupidly off into the distance, unwilling to continue the fight. I couldn’t even find a way to finish the battle. They, apparently, were done…

  10. Pieter says:

    No one complains about the awful flight combat sequences? They sucked mightily. Incredibly hard and irritating, ridiculous arcade nonsense which has no place in this game, and just no fun at all. You can skip most of them, fortunately, but if you want to finish the Furnace (which is a very cool bit of story), you HAVE to do the biggest and baddest of them.

    And don’t start me on the guy who gives those flight missions in the Imperial City: if you take on a mission and find that you can’t win with your current equipment, and then think: “Hm, let’s try this again later” and give up, he will not let you try the missions again. Basically, you have only one shot at them. And if you do not complete them, say goodbye to the Furnace storyline.

  11. baud001 says:

    When moving to a new area, sometimes the camera ends up facing straight down. A quick save & load fixes this

    It was still present when I played the origin version one or two years ago.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>