Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: E3 2004 Hands-On Report: Jade Empire

  1. Yield E3 2004 Hands-On Report: Jade Empire

    I must confess that I walked into E3 thinking very little of BioWare’s follow up to “Knights of the Old Republic.” The visuals didn’t hit that spot right below my cartulary artery the same way their previous games did. The big black mark hanging over the game for me was the combat system. The early OXM videos of “Jade Empire” showed a beautiful world inspired by Chinese mythology, but a combat system that looked like the sick bastard child of a turn-based RPG and a real-time fighting game.

    Let me just say right now: Whoever put together that video should be fired.

    Short and simple: “Jade Empire” is the “Street Fighter RPG” we’ve been waiting for. I kept thinking that eventually SEGA would make this game, and to be fair “Shenmue” came close… but the game itself wasn’t a thoroughbred role-playing game. Imagine my surprise that a “western” developer would so perfectly meld the joy of a fighting game, with the depth and breadth of an RPG!

    There simply isn’t enough ink in my blood to do justice to the world that BioWare is crafting with “Jade Empire,” but I think that mentioning that this is the game the founders have wanted to make since the beginning says a lot.

    It also goes without saying that the standards of “Knights of the Old Republic” are returning in “Jade Empire”: good/evil moral choices to make (with new skills offering even more dialog options than before); every line of dialog backed with voice acting (with a quality that looks to best previous efforts); even more companions with their own side quests and motives, and finally a world to explore that’s larger than “Knights of the Old Republic.”

    However, “Jade Empire” marks BioWare’s first foray into motion-capturing. If this is their first time out with mo-cap then I can’t wait to see what’s coming in the future. This buttery smooth animation is combined with characters that are pushing three times the polygons of the average KotR character and creates a visual feast for the eyes. The lighting engine has also received an update as well, and now produces a soft glow on every surface that gives the game a warm-surreal storybook look.

    For this hands-on I’ll be focusing my attention on the combat system, which until this point I think has been described as being far more complicated than need be. At the outset you’re armed with just one meger fighting style to protect yourself with, but throughout the game there are over thirty “styles” to learn. But, it’s up to you whether you become a Jack-of-all-Trades or a deadly specialist.

    Yet, no matter how you go about your quest for enlightenment; you can only have four fighting styles at your finger tips. These are accessed by the D-Pad as you can see, but something that hasn’t been mentioned enough is that “Jade Empire” will feature weapon based fighting, and special magic (chi) styles as well as hand-to-hand chop suey kung fu action.

    Not knowing exactly what to expect I picked up the controller and found myself facing a garden full of thugs that wanted my blood. Yes, blood. If you couldn’t help playing through “Knights of the Old Republic” without feeling like something was missing, perhaps this will help you out.

    Blood! Lots of it too! Decapitations are only the beginning, as I swear that I saw another player cause an enemy to darn near “explode” at one point. But, you’re probably wondering how this visual masterpiece plays out…

    Rather like “Soul Calibur 2” to be honest. Maybe I got this impression because I was just playing SC2 before I left for E3, but the manner in which moves are carried out reminded me a lot of Namco’s finest. No matter what style I was in, the two action buttons worked together in unison that seemed consistent enough that I needed no cheat sheet.

    Style switching feels a lot like “Mortal Kombat: Dark Alliance” only it happens faster and produces results that bring a juicy smile to your face. I was able to pound the first thug into the ground with my best Bruce Lee impression, and then quickly pick up a Chinese sword that reminded me instantly of the Green Destiny. One tap on the D-pad, and a couple button flicks later and I’d just decapitated my first fool.

    Playing “Jade Empire” felt like playing a typical fighting game, only instead of the view being from the side it was over the shoulder. The unique viewpoint didn’t hurt my stop me from throwing punches, switching targets, and blocking with such ferocity that the BioWare rep kept asking me if I played a lot of fighting games.

    During my brief time with the game I found the combat system to be straightforward and fun. While using the shoulder triggers to switch targets, and moving through a crowd of soon to be dead thugs I found that the combat was deep enough to explore without having to worry about falling into a “Virtua Fighter” ocean of complication.

    Knowing I’m alone in my love of simplicity in fighting games, I expressed concern about this lack of depth and was told by a senior BioWare designer that they’re striving to make the game friendly to role-playing gamers who’ve never played a fighting game… but at the same time fun for people who attend “Street Fighter” tournaments on the weekend.

    They’re betting that the variety of fighting styles, weapon combat, and magical abilities (chi) and the ability to collect “forms” to morph into will add the depth that fighting fans will be looking for. Having seen all four of these things in the game and working flawlessly at E3, I’m confident that gamers of every shade will find something to love in “Jade Empire.”

    Right now somewhere in Canada seventy BioWare souls are slaving away to ship “Jade Empire” sometime “early next spring” make sure you’re there to buy it.

    Special thanks to Teddman for pictures of the controller setup, booth and these videos!

    DOWNLOAD VIDEO (6.1 MB): Jade_Empire_morph.AVI

    DOWNLOAD VIDEO (3.5 MB): Jade_Empire_combat.AVI


  2. Nice impressions! I wasn't paying too much attention to Jade Empire before the show--I really thought it was just going to be a KOTOR clone set in ancient Asia or something--but after seeing that Xbox press conference trailer, I took notice. The game looks fantastic in person, and I left the Microsoft booth very impressed by the fluid animation and fast fighting engine.

    I talked briefly to a Bioware dev near the demo stations and he said the final version would have:
    • Moral Choices & good/bad character building like in KOTOR
    • Lots of dialogue and conversation trees
    • A robust skill set with selective abilities depending on what path & training you choose in the game
    • Fight monster with monster. Use morphing abilities to transform into legendary beasts
    • Multiple endings depending on your good/bad choices and branching paths


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • logo