(Almost) Everything You Need To Know About Jade Empire – Part 4

So What About Gameplay?

There’s a huge amount of anticipation for the release of Jade Empire. Sure, Bioware sells it well but they’re also standing on top of an iron reputation of live action RPGs. Some of you may be familiar with Neverwinter Nights and the expansion packs provided to give you new worlds and some pretty interesting characters. If you’re not too hot on the PC gaming scene, perhaps you’ve played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on the Xbox. Both of these are top notch RPGs from Bioware; they’re taking a lot of the good stuff and transferring it to the new world of Jade Empire.

Some of the combat system is random. It’s little bit different than rolling a dice and crossing your fingers. Ever heard of the game “Roshambo?” Maybe you would know it better as “Rock, Paper, Scissors?” Combat works the same way. You can block a basic attack but blocks can be overcome by the heavy attacks, yet the basic attacks stop a heavy attack in its tracks. It’s not all completely random, however. You can center in on a specific enemy in order to anticipate their attacks and knock them around a bit. True to any RPG, enemies are no doubt weaker against specific types of attacks.

If this sounds too complicated, you’ll find that it’s easier to walk through it than read about it. Focus mode will give you the chance to slow things down. Maybe you need time to think things over or move to a new position while all the action is getting started. Watch your focus meter, however, because you can only use it for a specific amount of time based on your character’s level.

Chi is another metered power. It’s basically the inner strength that powers any magical attack. You can use Chi to supplement your physical attacks with a little extra “pow” or generate a purely magical one. By pressing the white button on your controller you can also use your Chi to heal any damage you’ve accrued during battle.

You also have the ability to customize your character’s attacks and specialties to become the hero you want to be. You can pick a new fighting style, concentrate on an old one, gain more Focus or Chi each time you level up. Not only are you provided vast options with fighting styles, there are plenty of dialogues available to develop your character. If you want to be a total jerk, that’s an option. As you make your way through the world and the different areas any conversation you participate in will aid in shaping your character to follow two different philosophical paths, “The Way of the Open Palm” and “The Way of the Closed Fist.” While there have been some complaints coming from some that you can’t physically customize your own character, I think it allows for a richer experience graphically to have preset characters with their own attributes. Don’t believe me? Just wait and see.

There’s a Bonus on the Way

Word is out that while Jade Empire is being made for the Xbox, it will not utilize Xbox-Live for downloadable content after the game has been bought. While this is disappointing for a few people, Bioware has decided to make it up to you by offering a Limited Edition available by pre-order. While you may scoff at the idea of a limited edition of anything, there are a few reasons why you might decide to select this particular package.

If you’re easily distracted, the special foil wrap might get your attention. (*ooh, shiny!*) Barring that, the real meat comes in a special weapon-fighting style called “Spade Staff” and the bonus character:

Monk Zeng
That’s right, he’s only available in the Limited Edition pack. They always say that the sexiest men are the bald-headed men, and some women go for those strong silent types. Monk Zeng is the combination of both. He has a strong focus on using Chi in battle and from the exterior seems to talk little. He is also the only character that is able to use the “Monk Spade” which means he’s the only one that gets to use that “Spade Staff” weapons style.

If some bonus playable material isn’t to your liking, maybe you like to get yourself involved in the “Making Of” DVD. You can get all the dirt and interesting information in a multimedia presentation directly from your Xbox. With all the extra bonuses packed into the Limited Edition for no more than the $49.95 cost of the regular edition, most are asking themselves, “why not?”