Even though Jade Empire 'Special Edition'
as it is known on the PC is meant to feature revamped graphics compared to the Xbox version, it is hardly noticeable as the game still looks below what I'd
call average for a PC RPG game of this nature - certainly below the likes of, say, Fable. I'd hate to see what the game would have looked like on the
PC if they just kept the Xbox visuals. In fairness, there is never really a time where the graphics degrade the gameplay experience, but there is no way much
time was spent making Jade Empire look great on the PC. If you're going to port a game for the PC in the year 2007 from a now redundant console, at least
make the graphics look amazing.
Out of all the console influences on Jade Empire PC, there is really only one positive to be had and that's the control system and how it natively
supports the use of a game pad. When I first started playing Jade Empire using the keyboard and mouse, I noticed my USB Xbox 360 controller rumbling on
the floor during a battle so I picked it up to see what was going on only to find out that Jade Empire supports it natively, and I never went back to the
keyboard and mouse from then on out. While the keyboard
and mouse did an ok job, having that extra precision in movement with an analog stick does wonders so I'd highly recommend the use of a control pad,
particularly a 360 one. It was also nice to finally see a PC game take advantage of the force feedback in the 360 controller.
As I'm sure you can gather this far into the review, Jade Empire is a rather simplistic RPG, and perhaps the only exceptionally detailed part
about Jade Empire at all is the character dialogue, and how it relates to the storyline of the game. Throughout the game you are required to maintain your
character's stance between 'The Ways of the Open Palm' and 'The Ways of the Closed Fist'. These roughly equate to good vs evil, although not in every case.
Influencing this stance ranges from what you
say to people to what actions you take, including those in sub quests, which in turn influences the storyline. However, the game itself
basically makes the stance you followed redundant as right at the end you are given a choice of following the Open Palm or the
Closed Fist, which means no matter what you do in the game, the ending itself can pretty much be determined minutes before you defeat the last boss making
the whole dynamic storyline and stance thing a little pointless really.
With all this aside though, the game still does offer a well rounded RPG experience and is mostly fun and enjoyable, not to mention addictive due to the
immersive storyline and the pick up and play gameplay. On one hand the game may be simplistic and repetitive, but it still has that "I'll just play for
one more hour" RPG addictiveness to it which in a way is enhanced by the basic approach to the combat and XP system. One of the cooler parts to the
gameplay is the occasional "mini game",
triggered by certain events in the storyline. These can include retro style birds-eye view air combat (using fictional flying machines), side on Double
Dragon style fighting and action heavy parts of the normal gameplay to name a few. Once unlocked, these mini games are accessible from the main menu and
can be played at any time, further enhancing the game's pick up and play appeal. It may be simple, but Jade Empire is definitely good for a quick hand to
hand combat fix, much like a traditional fighting
Jade Empire is a decent RPG, but everything from the menu design and XP system, to the level design, basic fighting system and graphics absolutely
reek of "console port". The only positive coming from this is the fact the game is well suited for control pad use and that the Xbox 360
controller works perfectly without any effort required from the gamer whatsoever, but even then that probably isn't going to appease the majority of PC
gamers interested in an RPG. If you can look past the flaws
and strong Xbox feel, Jade Empire is definitely a fun and addictive experience, but overall it is perhaps best suited for the casual gamer who
prefers real time control than character and general game depth in their RPG gaming. Basically, if you've always wanted to mix the most basic and
simplified elements of Fable and Mortal Kombat together, Jade Empire is for