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Video Game Review:
This ‘Empire’ may leave casual gamers jaded
Posted May 20, 2005
Matthew Loriso
Staff Writer

Shortly after finishing the excellent “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” (known affectionately as “KOTOR” by its fans), developer Bioware set to work on its most recent release, “Jade Empire.”

I was hoping to write this entire review without making comparisons to “KOTOR,” but after playing the game it became obvious that it is virtually impossible to do so.

In most regards, “Jade Empire” is basically “KOTOR” set in a different place and time with different characters and surroundings.

The two role playing games basically play the same: You guide your customized character around wide-open (yet linear) environments in the process of reaching your destination where your next goal will most likely be revealed.

Along the way, enemies must be dealt with (in exchange for items and experience points) and random people will assign you optional side-quests (which is generally a menial fetch-quest).

The one huge difference between the games is the way in which fights are played. Bioware did away with the slower-paced, more cerebral turn-based fighting in favor of a real time fighting engine. This means that when you push a button, your character will do a corresponding action, rather than having to make your way through multiple menus.

This system is appropriate for a martial arts game, which contains attacks that would feel both unnatural and un-cool if put into a slow paced system.

Also, engaging in fights is more fun for the average game player who does not have enough patience to partake in a traditional role-playing game.

This could have allowed Jade Empire to gain an even larger user base than it had with “KOTOR,” but it will likely bore any potentially new fans within the first few hours.

While most of the game is a grand adventure worthy of attention, slow spots are not uncommon (like the aforementioned first few hours).

This, unfortunately, keeps “Jade Empire” from being as good as “KOTOR,” which was appropriately paced throughout.

Fans of the genre will find plenty to like about “Jade Empire.”

However, anybody who prefers to be rewarded incrementally throughout a game may not find it worth the time to find the good in “Jade Empire,” no matter how rewarding it may be.

Matthew Loriso can be reached at mloriso@ulv.edu.

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