bit-gamer.net

I Hate Jade Empire

Posted on 23rd Jul 2010 at 10:54 by Joe Martin with 29 comments

Joe Martin
You might think the poor combat, terrible graphics and lack of stats were what made Jade Empire such a bad RPG, but you’d be wrong.

No, what really kills it is how terribly boring it is. It’s dreadful, really; duller than an inflatable knife - and it’s not just simply tedious either. Jade Empire’s banality can be divided into two separate levels of boredom.

Firstly, there’s the plot itself, which is so predictable it’d be enough to make anyone think they’d become clairvoyant. You play an orphan who has been raised by the teacher of an awesome Kung Fu school that sits unmolested in the rural outskirts of the standard Wuxia setting. Apparently you’ve never questioned about your parentage until the day that Master Li ominously lets you know you have an important destiny.

Oh, sorry, not ominously, obviously.

I Hate Jade Empire
Fear my generic badness

Turns out Master Li isn’t really a simple teacher, as evidenced by his ability to destroy warships with a single blow and defeat ghosts in battle. He’s actually the brother of the evil Emperor, gone into hiding after realising he was on a dark path after being ordered to wipe out the order of Spirit Monks. It turns out that you’re the last Spirit Monk, which means that Father-figure Master Li effectively engineered the genocide of your people. Rather than being bitter about this, you resolve to follow his every whim and find him when he is conveniently kidnapped. Not before you get a new ghostly guide though, mind.

The plot itself isn’t totally dreadful; clichéd and reliant almost totally on the most boring of stereotypes and over-used tropes, certainly, but not dreadful in and of itself.

Unfortunately, Jade Empire’s story is wounded by the simplicity of the game design and the overwhelming limpness of the writing. It’s not just Bioware’s worst game, but also clearly the laziest. The various twists and turns of the story are handled terribly, with absolutely no subtlety or uniqueness. The characters are all just cardboard cutouts at best and the direction is so bad that not even the vocal efforts of Nathan Fillion can lift the experience out of the mud.

Sometimes it sickens me how lazily and easily some of the writing must have been for Jade Empire. I can imagine the meetings now.

I Hate Jade Empire
I do Kung Fu

Writer 1: We need to think up the name of the baddie. What can we call him?
Writer 1: How about Death’s Hand?
Writer 1: It’s good, but it needs more. What would he wear, for example?
Writer 1: How about ‘armour black as night and a mask the colour of blood?’ He could have swords and be angry.
Writer 1: Oh, man. You are on fire today!
Writer 1: You want Mexican for lunch? I feel like a burrito.

You might notice all the characters above are called ‘Writer 1’. That’s because if I allow myself even a moment to consider that conceptualising Jade Empire required more than that then I might just die from despair. I honestly believe that watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon represents the extent of Bioware’s research into the Wuxia genre and the attached mythologies.

I have a theory about Bioware’s last few games (at that point) too. If you look at their back-catalogue you can note an interesting trend. Specifically, the games that immediately predate Jade Empire are ones from entirely different genres: Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights. It’s not unforeseeable that Bioware deliberately attacked a broad range of different settings and genres as part of a risk-offsetting strategy or somesuch – if Fantasy isn’t working, maybe Sci-Fi would.

With that in mind, look at all of the games Bioware has made since Jade Empire; Dragon Age covers Fantasy, Mass Effect and Star Wars the Sci-Fi.

Obviously I’m not the only one who didn’t think Jade Empire didn’t work very well.

29 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Morrius 23rd July 2010, 12:00 Quote
Don't play it then?
general22 23rd July 2010, 12:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morrius
Don't play it then?

*whoosh*
[PUNK] crompers 23rd July 2010, 12:21 Quote
ok so it was the worst bioware game yet, but in fact still playable, and probably still of a higher quality than 70% of the games that get released.

this just speaks for the quality of bioware in the marketplace, not the quality of jade empire.
Phalanx 23rd July 2010, 12:58 Quote
I own Jade Empire. I've played it twice. Both times I could not bring myself to continue once I left the Wuxia-village setting.

I think perhaps it was due to the fact that whilst it wasn't an overly bad game in my opinion, it wasn't Bioware's top notch stuff.

I hold Bioware in high regard. Higher than any other games company out there. They can do no wrong for me, but when something they make is not the equivalent of an "OMGIMUSTPLAYTHISNOW" type game, I tend to stop playing as I don't want to ruin my perception of the company. I am, for example, completely psyched for The Old Republic. I can't wait to play it. I only hope they pull it off (it looks like they will from what I've seen).

So basically, what I'm saying is Jade Empire is a decent game, it's just not Bioware decent. I hold a 90% Bioware game in higher regard than any other 90% score on a game.

Could it have been the project of a junior at the company perhaps? Perhaps a fledgling development team given a go at something original?

PS. I think I'll add it back to the pile of games I have to play. I'll give it another shot.
matt... 23rd July 2010, 13:07 Quote
personally I loved it - the combat was great and I loved the choice of styles...

also getting to 'bed' both sisters was sweet too!
pimlicosound 23rd July 2010, 13:13 Quote
I didn't have as much trouble with the story as with how linear the game was. There was no option to choose the order in which you do things - you were constantly funnelled from one game area to the next (particularly in the last quarter of the game, when any sense of exploration or role-playing goes out of the window). I guess that just reinforces the supine naivety of the main player character.

I agree that it was far from Bioware's best, but I did enjoy the atmosphere, particularly in and around Tien's Landing, and some of the characters like Henpecked Hu were very amusing.
dispie 23rd July 2010, 13:48 Quote
jade Empire sucked,

it had great potential but it was just not made very nice

At first in the village it was ok as soon as you leave that it soon becomes a boring very linear game that could not keep my attention for longer then 1 day
rickysio 23rd July 2010, 14:26 Quote
As a wuxia lover (I've finished all of Louise Chia's works) I found this very dissatisfactory.

Add that to the racial stereotypes in the character creation (I'm Asian), it was......

Bad. Probably the only BioWare game I've not finished.
UnFixed 23rd July 2010, 15:53 Quote
Quote:
Writer 1: We need to think up the name of the baddie. What can we call him?
Writer 1: How about Death’s Hand?
Writer 1: It’s good, but it needs more. What would he wear, for example?
Writer 1: How about ‘armour black as night and a mask the colour of blood?’ He could have swords and be angry.
Writer 1: Oh, man. You are on fire today!
Writer 1: You want Mexican for lunch? I feel like a burrito.

Anyone else notice hes talking to himself? More issues than just a lot of imagination there. Maybe too much.
SlowMotionSuicide 23rd July 2010, 16:20 Quote
Man, what's up with you guys? First you beat Crysis into mud, and now Jade Empire unnecessarily gets shafted.

Will the next blog be titled "I hate kittens and oral sex"?
Tangster 23rd July 2010, 16:32 Quote
Yeah, but unlike Crysis, this one happens to be justified.
Redbeaver 23rd July 2010, 17:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowMotionSuicide
Man, what's up with you guys? First you beat Crysis into mud, and now Jade Empire unnecessarily gets shafted.

Will the next blog be titled "I hate kittens and oral sex"?

bad reviews are usually more interesting and informative than the nice one...
Helz 23rd July 2010, 17:46 Quote
I don't agree with this review at all. I'm not very interested in Asian martial arts and all that, but I thought the game was fantastic. This was one of the first games Bioware made that wasn't based off an existing IP, and I give them credit for trying to push themselves in different directions.

The combat was completely different from their previous games too, and I was really impressed by its level of polish. My only gripe was that it got too easy as the game progressed.

As for the story, I enjoyed it overall. The Open Palm/Closed Fist was a good concept, but it just devolved into Good/Evil choices. That was a missed opportunity for sure. Even so, the writers get points in my book for providing a truly ****ed up ending for an evil playthrough.

If I was to bash a Bioware game, it'd be Neverwinter Nights. That poorly optimized engine was just a toolkit masquerading as a game.
Volund 23rd July 2010, 18:17 Quote
azrael- 23rd July 2010, 19:44 Quote
Hmm.. Bought Jade Empire at a STEAM sale, as well as KOTOR. Started playing KOTOR, but it kind of blows in my opinion. It seems unplayable as I cannot even get off the first planet and I'm not what you would call a newcomer to RPG genre. So if JE is even worse than that... *sigh* At least it was cheap.
robots 23rd July 2010, 23:53 Quote
I don't get the JE hate. I absolutely loved it. The combat was brilliant and a nice change from the usual RPG crap and hack n slash dumbness. It could have been a lot better but overall I really enjoyed it, and so did most of my friends. I was really surprised to read that it got a very mixed reception from other people.

I did get it quite cheap though. I might have been more critical if I paid full price.
Skiddywinks 24th July 2010, 00:14 Quote
I'll say this for it (despite being dreadfully disappointed with it after having played KotOR); I finished it. Dragon Age I have started twice and never played more than (about) 10 hours of it. Which for a Bioware RPG is a shockingly small amount.

Especially considering the fact I <3 Baldur's Gate.
shoxicwaste 24th July 2010, 01:04 Quote
LOL, the game kept me occupied for a couple of hours, i kind of enjoyed it, the character names made me laugh and it was incredibly predicted and corny
GiantStickMan 24th July 2010, 05:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helz
I don't agree with this review at all.

It's not a review, it's a blog post - more of an opinion or a reflection on an older title. Besides, at the end of the day it's just his opinion.
That being said, I agree. I've never finished it and that's probably because it never really grabbed me. I wouldn't say it's a bad game, just not one that was able to hold my interest.
Elton 24th July 2010, 05:43 Quote
I will admit it's not one for replay value, the game simply doesn't have enough in it.

Even if the plot's a bit generic, we've come to expect that from all Bioware games now. Still it's quite polished and the martial arts shindig was amusing at least.
rickysio 24th July 2010, 10:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helz
I don't agree with this review at all. I'm not very interested in Asian martial arts and all that, but I thought the game was fantastic. This was one of the first games Bioware made that wasn't based off an existing IP, and I give them credit for trying to push themselves in different directions.

The combat was completely different from their previous games too, and I was really impressed by its level of polish. My only gripe was that it got too easy as the game progressed.

As for the story, I enjoyed it overall. The Open Palm/Closed Fist was a good concept, but it just devolved into Good/Evil choices. That was a missed opportunity for sure. Even so, the writers get points in my book for providing a truly ****ed up ending for an evil playthrough.

If I was to bash a Bioware game, it'd be Neverwinter Nights. That poorly optimized engine was just a toolkit masquerading as a game.

Well, if you're not a wuxia enjoyer/asian like me, you might enjoy it more.
xela333 25th July 2010, 15:50 Quote
I agree with 'robots'. I really enjoyed this game too. Ive played every Bioware game they have made so far and Jade Empire would be in my top 5. Very polished, original combat system, John Cleese as a crazy European and mildly predictable but enjoyable story. Ok so it was'nt as RPGish as most of their earlyer games but it simplified things nicely.
memeroot 26th July 2010, 10:37 Quote
how many bioware games are there?
Fizzban 26th July 2010, 13:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
how many bioware games are there?

At least 23 if you include the expansions. I'm not sure of the exact number however.

--

Have to agree with Joe on this one really. I managed one play through of JE. But I found it to be a rather dull and obvious game. I did try a second play through a few months back to make different decisions..but I got bored rapidly and stopped playing.

It was a one shot game really. And by that I mean you will only play it once. No re playability at all.
MrZephyr 26th July 2010, 17:51 Quote
I really enjoyed the game, played it through at leisure last year. Granted some parts were quite predictable, but a martial arts adventure game was just what I wanted at the time... every game is subjectively enjoyable - I hated farcry 2 and sold it before completing it, others love it and still rave about it and that's what this blog entry is all about, personal preference... =)
Votey 27th July 2010, 03:20 Quote
Quote:
Obviously I’m not the only one who didn’t think Jade Empire didn’t work very well.

So you liked it then. Alright.
Votey 27th July 2010, 03:21 Quote
Wow, do not quote things with apostrphes in them, apparently.
Slizza 29th July 2010, 06:17 Quote
I remember really enjoying the game.
Rainavaia 30th August 2010, 22:55 Quote
All I have to say is this Joe Martin fellow needs to tone down his little blog. Yes Jade Empire one of Bioware's finest games? Of course not. If anything, they should have stuck with developing KotOR2 and not passed it off to the butchery that Obsidian brings to RPGs. Jade Empire was a decent RPG, but nowhere near as dreadful as this heated, emotional fellow seems to make it out to be.

Additionally, why are you (Joe Martin) bringing this up -now-? It's 2010! This is hardly the time to be bashing a game made quite some time ago.

I will also point out that Jade Empire offered various options for romance, unlike most other RPGs that stick to M/F -only-. That, in and of itself, made me appreciate the game more, knowing that my personal preferences were not being ignored by the gaming industry.

Now, back to salivating over SWTOR... >.>
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums
Styx: Master of Shadows Review

Styx: Master of Shadows Review

31st October 2014

The Evil Within Review

The Evil Within Review

21st October 2014

Wasteland 2 Review

Wasteland 2 Review

17th October 2014