Diehard GameFAN Hall of Shame Nomination: Jade Empire

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Jade Empire
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: 04/12/2005
System Released On: Windows, XBox
Genre: Action RPG

Who Nominated The Game: The one and only Chuck Platt nominated Jade Empire.

Why Was It Nominated: When the topic of the Hall of Shame concept was bandied about, Jade Empire instantly sprang to mind. After over a year of hype, Jade Empire failed to live up to the lofty hype. In all honesty, I fully expected to be alone in my disappointment. I figured that the rest of the gaming world probably enjoyed Jade Empire and I was being overly harsh. Hell, after beating the game, I immediately started over and tried it with a completely different character build and mindset. I was determined to enjoy the damn game. It was only after reading Alex’s review that I realized that I was not alone. There are games you expect to suck, but it is a special sort of pain when a game promises as much as Jade Empire did and then it fails.

What makes Jade Empire distinctly different from most gaming disappointments is the shameful behavior of the developers and PR people involved. The long and short of it was that BioWare was not happy with Alex’s review, so he had me write one. Alex is a pretty tough, but fair, reviewer. I am a self-important ponce and sort of an asshole. I wrote a pretty angry review. At the time, it seemed like a hatchet job, but seems pretty mild now. Thus, the controversy is what caused the nomination, not the quality of the game.

All In Favor:
Chuck Platt– In all honesty, this ‘In Favor’ vote is pretty half-hearted. I no longer have any ill will towards the lovely folks at BioWare. Heck, I bought Dragon Age and all of its DLC and had no complaints. Most companies, like most people, act like assholes sometimes. Big deal. I completely understand anyone standing up for their product, though the methods were questionable.

That being said, Jade Empire remains a mediocre, forgettable game. Definitely not the worst of the worst, just a passable game that fell short of the hype it was wrapped in. Now, five years later, I cannot imagine this being someone’s favorite XBOX game. I would not even put it on a list of the top ten games for the XBOX.

All Opposed:
Ashe Collins– While not my favorite game of all time, and certainly not my favorite RPG ever, I don’t think this game deserves the Hall of Shame. Sure Bioware went out of their comfort zone a bit with this one and yes I was more than annoyed when it took them so long to bring it to PC, but it is interesting to play even with the bizarre and overly-long fight at the end. I wasn’t involved with this site when it came out so I wasn’t aware of the shenanigans surrounding its review her, but even coupled with that the game itself isn’t bad enough to merit inclusion here.

Alex Lucard– Look, Jade Empire was a mediocre game, but it wasn’t awful. It had a transparent plot that was basically written by a three year old filled with more cliches than a Roger Corman movie. It had simplistic gameplay that offered little to no challenge. But hey, let’s go back and look at the review I wrote that caused the anger from Bioware in the first place. Oh hey. it got a 7/10. Now I admit I’m still pissed about Bioware’s immaturity and the shit they did regarding the score, especially since it got a 7/10, which is a GOOD SCORE. Their demanding a 9/10 for the game? Immature, unethical, bullying and their behavior was up there with Activision’s as the worst thing I have seen a company do in regards to outright attacking a site in an attempt to get a higher score. If it was still 2005, then yes, this game would probably be a shoo-in for the Hall of Shame, due to emotions alone.

However this is 2010 and even though Bioware is still being dicks to gamers and journalists alike (Anyone remember the “Fuck you, we’ll give you the recommended stats for the PC version of Dragon Age IF we feel like it” to people on their forums?), they have never done anything as awful as actively calling people that work for our site and harassing them since. We’ve gotten review copies from them on damn near everything and even when we actually slaughtered a game of theirs in Sonic Chronicles, they didn’t make a peep about it.

At the end of the day, Jade Empire is all but forgotten by most gamers and will never see a sequel due to it’s having little to any depth or praise, and that’s a far more fitting punishment, if it actually deserves one. Besides, unlike games such as Daikatana and Shining Force Neo that were bad games combined with horrible actions from a publisher or developer, Jade Empire was a decent game that just happened to have some deplorable actions by a publisher. Both would equal HOS for me. Just one isn’t enough to get my vote.

Christopher Bowen– Everyone else has established why this game was nominated. Yes, Bioware is a shitty company with some of the worst PR in the entire industry. However, if that was the criteria for a Hall of Shame game, then Kane and Lynch: Dog Days would be an automatic lock. Not only did Eidos’s PR get one of the internet’s most prominent writers fired and ruin Gamespot’s reputation for all of eternity, but Kane and Lynch was a worse game than Jade Empire.

I’m not saying Jade Empire was a great game. Not by a longshot. It was little more than an over ambitious project that didn’t turn out right. But it’s not a bad enough game for the Hall of Shame, a place meant for the worst of the worst.

If we’re going to put publishers into their own Hall of Shame, then Bioware is a first ballot inclusion. But Jade Empire is not a bad enough game to be in that club.

Mark B.– The sole reason, and I mean SOLE reason, that this was nominated is because a few years back, Bioware had a fit because we scored Jade Empire in a fashion such that they didn’t think the score was acceptable and demanded a re-review, which instigated an argument so bad that several staffers have held a grudge ever since.

Being as how I’ve reviewed Dragon Age: Origins and its expansion as well as Mass Effect 2 for the site, all of which were review copies provided to us by either Bioware or Electronic Arts, obviously Bioware’s side of that argument has cooled off, and obviously I’m not terribly bitter about the whole ordeal, but old habits die hard.

So, in two simple observations, here’s why I’m not behind this nomination even a small bit.

1.) Jade Empire is not a particularly bad game. I would argue that it is a fairly pleasant game in many respects, but is merely underwhelming in a lot of cases, and I’ve rather enjoyed my time spent with it, as have, I’m sure, many other people.

2.) Every video game company on Earth acts like complete cocksuckers a lot of the time, and if I started openly resenting companies because they did things that pissed me off I’d never be able to play a video game ever again. Nintendo spent like two years trying to outdo the Sega CD, to the point where they openly lied about making their own system after directly causing both the 3DO and Playstation to be developed, which in turn basically turned the gaming industry into the fucked up abomination it is today. So… Nintendo basically lied to fuck over Sega and pretty much DIRECTLY CAUSED all of the nonsense that’s going right now, and yet I’m fairly sure that at least a quarter of the staff would put the company on their short list of favorite game companies of all time.

So, no, I’m not really all that mad at Bioware for this event; they have an interest in protecting their investments, no matter how they choose to go about doing so, and while I think the event itself is wholly embarrassing, Mass Effect 2 is fantastic, and I’m against shaming Jade Empire for something its parent company did. Sorry.

AJ Hess– Hot off the success of the Knights of the Old Republic franchise, Bioware tried to do something a little different. Tossing their hat into Asian mythology, the team created a game that-while failing on a lot of fronts-still delivered a fun, playable experience. Was the final boss an hour-long, ultra repetitive cheese fest? Yes, it sure was. Getting to that point was a lot of fun though. Jade Empire allowed for multiple weapon, martial, and magic disciplines, a lot of moody and intense scenery, and a “what-if” tour of a magical, medieval Far East. Just because a game doesn’t exceed prior experiences doesn’t mean it is one of the worst of all time.

Sean Madson– Is this game a case of missed potential? Perhaps. Does it deserve to go down in history as one of the worst games ever made? No, not by a long shot.

Jade Empire had a lot going for it. Play as a martial arts master that can swap fighting styles on the fly and use them to avenge your sensei in a dialogue heavy quest that plays out in typical Bioware fashion. What’s not to love? Unfortunately, despite all the fighting styles at your disposal, many of them had a very limited number of attacks and others were simply not that much fun to use at all. Despite this, I played the game through to its conclusion and I enjoyed my experience with it. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say it’s worth playing, if only for a few minutes. Just don’t go in expecting Dragon Age: Kung Fu.

Result: 1 In Favour, 6 Opposed, 14% Approval = SPARED

Conclusion: Ultimately, time heals all wounds, and Jade Empire has had enough time for the negative effects of the old regime’s aggressive PR to wear off and spare the game from our lowest depths. It’s actually a bit ironic that this article is going live when it does, considering the recent issues that Hydrophobia’s been engaged in. Between that and IO Interactive claiming that some people didn’t “get” the latest Kane and Lynch game, it seems like the intimidation that Bioware used on us five years ago is coming back into style. Let’s hope the latest issues are just a fad.

Next Week: The name is iconic to tabletop gamers of all time, but that didn’t transfer well to game consoles. Next week, we see if one of the worst NES games of all time is bad enough to make the Hall of Shame.



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One response to “Diehard GameFAN Hall of Shame Nomination: Jade Empire”

  1. Benjamin W. Avatar

    It’s funny, I think a lot of what goes down from game companies comes from having a weak PR team, and the fact that literally thousands of man hours go in to making a single modern video game. Unlike the days of Nintendo, people expect quality, and people have to toil away lovingly at these games. Getting a mediocre review is like a professional french chef being told his Fois gras tastes like a horses ass. Some people just can’t take criticism very well, especially after working so hard on a project. PR people need to make sure they keep game developers on a short leash so they can’t go barking off like flaming retards. It’s why Notch, creator of Minecraft, has been getting in such trouble with people. He HAS no PR team.

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