Not up to par from what fans come to expect of Bioware

Let me start off by saying I believe if you are new to the Bioware RPG experience then Jade Empire can be an enjoyable experience. For the rest of us though I'm afraid the shock and awe will wear off rather quickly.

Jade Empire has the typical role-playing conventions of choosing a character, choosing which particular combat styles you would like to have to start the game (don't fret here too much though, you will be picking up a rather expansive selection of added skills as the game progresses), and choosing between which three basic attributes of body, mind and focus to put your starting points into. From here, the game does a good job of introducing you to the dialog interface and the combat interface - which is really a precursor to what the remaining 99% of the game will entail..

Jade Dragon has a rather impressive story as far as scope; unfortunately most of the good stuff (read: quests) are rather bland and un-fulfilling. There are several impressive twists in the story, but again, up until the final battle I did not feel like I was the last savior of Earth.

The graphics are adequate, the world feels rather sparse as far as detail goes. You can tell that the graphics engine is an updated version of the same once they used in KOTR and KOTR2, which is nice, but starting to feel dated.. I think that's pretty much how it goes for games primarily developed for the console (in this case the X-Box) and then later brought to the PC. I've yet to play one where I couldn't immediately tell. The sound, on the contrary, is excellent and is always appropriate for the given situation.

The fighting can be fast and furious, but never on a difficulty level of a Ninja Gaiden Black. One caveat we the PC crowd get is the addition of two new styles, the Iron Palm and Viper. Your character will only be able to use one depending on whether you go the way of the Open Palm or Closed Fist (translation: Lawful Good vs. Chaotic Neutral) but again, there is nothing really "special" about these styles to make you feel like you are the savior of the world.

The quests are not very memorable, it would of been nicer if they would have chosen Asian actors to do the voice-over to add to the immersion. There are a couple that are enjoyable (one where you get to be an actor in a play and you can choose whether to sabotage it or not) but mostly you'll find yourself going from point A to point B.

This is a decent sub $30 game but for people like me who have been spoiled by the sheer brilliance of just about everything Bioware has done I'm afraid you'll have to wait for their next endeavor.