Jade Empire: Ending

By Shamus
on Apr 6, 2007
Filed under:
Game Reviews

Some spoiler-free thoughts on the game overall, now that I’ve crossed the finish line:

Having been through Jade Empire one and a half times now, I can say without reservation that this is an exceptional game. This will go down as a classic for me, alongside treasures like Fallout and KOTOR. An RPG like this only comes along once every few years.

The characters are outstanding. They all have fascinating (or hilarious) stories and all of them are wonderfully voice acted. The “evil” characters that accompany you are grim or outrageous without being revolting. The “good” characters are noble and true without being irritating or sanctimonious. The funny characters are genuinely funny and charming.

As I mentioned before, the plot twists are spot on. The plot itself is fairly tight. I’m on my second trip through the game, and I have not spotted any significant plot holes. The story is epic and thrilling, and the final confrontation packs a lot of dramatic punch. When you finally get down to face your nemesis, everything is on the line and the battle has become intensely personal. The final battle was tough, but not so tough that frustration blunted the dramatic impact of the moment. This is one of my pet peeves and I’m always pleased when a developer understands that the final boss doesn’t need to kill the player a dozen times for the game to be “fun”.

My biggest lament about Jade Empire is that I wish there was more of it. A single play-through takes between fifteen and twenty hours, depending on how aggressive you are with the sidequests. 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. 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. And a unicorn. And my own fighter jet that can transform into a breakdancing robot.

Anyway, the length of the game isn’t that bad. 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. Saying a game was great but you wish there was more of it is a good example of praising with faint damnation.

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19Just 19 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. David V.S. says:

    Shamus, I got the game yesterday just because of your non-spoiler posts about it.

    I’m glad it is not too long. I’m too busy to be sucked into something taking many, many hours.

  2. Shamus says:

    Thanks for the trust in my opinion. I hope you enjoy it. :)

  3. Malkara says:

    It’s trust well-placed. ;-p You tend to be pretty good at the whole game-judging business. And by good, I mean, close to my own taste. Which is all that matters, of course.

  4. Ace says:

    Yep, I liked this game a lot as well. Especially the storyline.

    The thing that bugged me about this game isn’t its length though, it’s more how hard it was. I do enjoy the somewhat harder games but this game, much like KOTOR1 and 2, was much more about how you build your character than skill. If you build your character the right way, this game is easy as pie.

    Still, I’m not complaining, I finished my copy about 5 times now, which in my book qualifies for a good game.

    This is certainly something people should have played!

    – Ace

  5. theonlymegumegu says:

    Don’t forget the awesome comedy bit during the end credits…

    “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!”

    “And then you would punch a mountain… in space!”

    I beat the game again immediately after listening to that so I could video tape it (actually, a total of 3 times because I accidentally skipped the credits on the second time…).

  6. melchar says:

    [nods] I also just got the game because of your recommendation. I liked KotOR a lot – and have high hopes for this one.

  7. Andrew Cory says:

    Based upon your recommendation, I’m looking forward to picking up a copy of this game. On a completely unrelated note: I knew the “twist” ending of KOTOR1 before my first time through. So I named my character “Revaan McSith”…

  8. Gothmog says:

    I just picked up the deluxe xbox version of this because of your coverage (the spoiler-free posts, thank you for the spoiler alerts), Shamus- I’m quite excited to play tonight once I pust my son to sleep…

    I’ll let you know how it goes. :D

  9. Javaboy says:

    I just grabbed the PC version. Thanks for posting your review of the game. I’m really looking forward to playing… so I’m going to stop commenting and start installing.

  10. Morrinn says:

    Looks like I’m getting it :]
    Thanks for the heads up Shamus… Your’s is one of the few reviews I thouroughly trust.

  11. Hentzau says:

    I got this for the Xbox when it first came out, and never got around to finishing it. But I really enjoyed it when I played it.

    Now you have me thinking about finishing it up. I’d have to start at the beginning, of course…

  12. hank says:

    Any insight into the PC vs console differences for this game?

    The only negative thing I’ve read about this game that makes me hesitant to buy it was a review that said the PC version was basically a poor port of the console version, poorly adapted to keyboard-mouse control.

    Anyone second that opinion? Or refute it?

  13. Shamus says:

    hank: I can’t imagine how anyone can call it a poor port. The controls work, and you can map the controls any way you want. It handles like a typical 3rd person shoort on the PC. (Like Max Payne, for example.)

    It is one of the finest ports I’ve played. If I didn’t know it was a port I never would have guessed that the PC wasn’t its native platform.

  14. David V.S. says:

    Three more notes about the game, one positive and two negative.

    On the positive, my graphics card is only a GeForce FX 5500. Yet the only location in Jade Empire so far (pre-Palace) in which I have had any framerate difficulty was under the Emperor’s Tomb. Maybe too much running water or something. Not bad considering the games for at least a GeForce 6200 series.

    For the first negative, a small flaw in the voice acting is that I did not realize until arriving at the Imperial City that when a follower interrupted a conversation to share their opinion it was one of those theatrical whispers the audience could hear but other characters could not. (“Soto voice”, I think it is called.)

    I had Dawn Star as my follower the entire game up to that point, since I found her support role most useful. I had assumed she was just butting into conversations because she felt equally “in charge” of our mission. Then we get to the capital’s Arena, acting undercover, and she keeps talking about “Two Rivers” and “Master Li”. I expected to be arrested, but then figured out that all game long she had been “whispering” to me, not speaking aloud.

    Not a big deal, but it ruined an otherwise tense moment.

    More dramatic was bug I encountered with quest scripting. Twice something really odd happened: a fight important to the plot ended prematurely.

    The first time (under the Arena) the quests thought a character was killed but he still was there, healthy as ever. This did not cause problems, for when I left that map-area the game corrected things.

    The second time was a bunch of assassins, in front of an “inner” door. I had fought some people in that next room, but the leader of those characters did not participate in the fight and was still alive despite what the quests now thought. If I talked to him, the dialogue from the now-deceased characters would even repeat, but the subsequent fight was skipped. This time leaving the map-area did not fix things. After dropping a golem on someone I needed to get into that “inner” door but the game would not let the door open, and I suspect the confused state of whether this fight-quest was complete was causing the problem.

    I had to load to before I dropped the golem, and instead talk to the person I dropped the golem on: this happened to produce a different set-up in which talking to him a second time would take me past the door without having to “use” the door. I felt quite fortunate I did not have to replay all of that location, which given the glacial framerate I had there would have been exceedingly tedious.

  15. B.J. says:

    Ack. Jade Empire? Really? I thought that game was terrible. It felt so diluted and shallow. You’d gain XP and level up and increase your stats… and it never made any difference.

    The combat was clunky and awkward and unbalanced. You could spam one attack and kill everything without getting hit. Or try a different style and get completely owned. There was no middle ground.

    The plot twists were obvious and forced. Everything is jammed down your throat. Choices are hollow and pointless. The entire game seemed to be some kind of concession towards console gamers. A very poor offering from the makers of Baldur’s Gate 2.

  16. A fan says:

    I agree with the last person.The fighting was abysmal, and this in a game that’s based on fighting.I liked the story and the characters.Except Henpecked (what an obious and forced name) with his useless fighting style, and the trying to show spouse abuse as funny just because the target of agresion is a male.(lol a man beaten up by a women!!!like it could never happen).With the exception of combat and Henpecked the game was memorable.

  17. Sarah says:

    I know you’re possibly planning on doing Jade Empire for Spoiler Warning in the future, and since you mentioned the characters and their stories a bit in this entry, I thought I’d let you in on a tidbit of interesting dialogue that I came across.

    In the teahouse at Tien’s Landing, you can have several different conversations with Hui, the soldier Sun Li left behind to make sure you got your next bit of the amulet. If you ask her enough about why she waited, she says something like “I revere him and I…” she hesitates, and then hurriedly continues, “—I revere him.”

    …I think…she might have been in love with him.

  18. Ginger says:

    I just completed Jade Empire for the third time ^^ its an amazing game to me, I really love the fact that you grt to make decisions that change the whole course of the story :0

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