Pointless Nonsense

Posted in video games by Bill on June 9, 2015

jadeempireJade Empire is another BioWare RPG from 2005 that, since I’ve enjoyed all their other games, I figured give this one a shot. It’s an RPG in the style of wuxia kung fu movies, monks and kicks and magic and all that, with the usual BioWare touches. Talk to NPCs, pick up some companions, chance to bang one. That is normally a formula that works well for me, but I didn’t even finish the game. You play a student at a kung fu school, until one day your master is abducted and most of the town razed. You have to run off hunting down the bad guys to rescue your master from what turns out to be the evil emperor. I got towards the end of chapter 3, and I was getting pretty bored, so I looked to see if chapter 4 was the end, and it turns out it goes to chapter 7, so fuck that.

I was optimistic early on during the tutorial-ish phase, expecting better things to come, but it never happened. A few things put me off of the whole thing. The voice actors are generally not very good. The dialogue seems to try to capture the kind of dialogue you get in translations of Chinese movies, so it often has unnecessarily flowery language and other quirks of that kind of thing. Literally none of the jokes landed for me (admittedly, KotOR was not as funny as the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, but Jade Empire is definitely the least funny BioWare game I’ve played). The romance options are either the incredibly boring girl (who is technically your adopted sister, so that’s weird) or the hot rogueish girl, which is normally my video game type, except she is the worst and always complaining about you helping people. Also I apparently fucked up the romance anyway, by selecting a complimentary but not-the-right-kind-of-complimentary dialog option.

The combat is quite boring, 95% of the fights are really easy, 5% seem excessively difficult. Every time you level up, you get points to increase your ability in one of the fighting styles you get. You’re constantly acquiring new fighting styles, but you’ve already sunk points into the ones you get early on… so I never saw much reason to fiddle around with many new styles. Half the time in combat I’m swinging at my opponent and not really sure if I’m hitting them or not. You’re not attacking or defending when you’re closing the distance, so you want to start attacking as soon as you’re in range, but when there’s a lot of combat noise going on, it’s hard to tell if the punch-landing sounds are coming from you or from someone else. You only get one companion in your party at a time, too, which would have bothered me more if I actually liked any of them. For some reason, the game sometimes breaks into a mini-game reminiscent of the NES game 1942.

Some of the quests are really irritating, like one where I knew I needed to get everyone out of a room. Two people I could get rid of by breaking this machine. So I go to the machine and fiddle around with it for a while, finding no way to break it. So I go and talk to them again, no help on how to break the machine. I go to the merchant, no help there. I go and talk to the guy that gave me the quest, and that turns out to be the thing that triggers the next step in the quest. These people are all really far apart, so this takes a good while. And once I do trigger it, then I have to go to the people to get rid of, then to the merchant, then to the machine, then back to the people all over again. I get rid of everyone else, and then I run around trying to trigger the next step, and it turns out I have to go back to the guy who gave me the quest again. No indication ever that I had to do that. I just waste a bunch of my time running around.

It could just be that I’m not a kung fu movie person, so I’m not a kung fu RPG person, but I feel like a game with fewer flaws would have overcome my lack of interest in the genre.


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