Sunday, 6 July 2014

Jade Empire: Game Design review

Set in asn asian fantasy setting, Jade Empire by Bioware is a story about you and the current trouble in the Empire. It's the usual "Save the world" gimmick but set in an Asian setting.

What I like
Unique setting- The Asian setting is very rarely used in games and this sets it apart from many other games. I especially liked the cool looking statues in the game and the outdoor environments.

Fun character- The characters are all very interesting and unique. Some might say cliche but I genuinely enjoyed my time with them.

Martial arts- Who doesn't love martial arts fighting? This is one of the few games where you can actually see Chinese style martial arts in an RPG.

What I disliked
Unfortunately there are significant problems with the game which really drag it down.

Combat system- When you play the game, the combat and targeting system is for one on one fighting and simply unsuited for a brawl. For example, if there are three people infront of you and you attack, you will only hit one person and very rarely hit the other two or three. There is also sweep attack which allows you to knock people away and basically isolate and finish them off individually, again with a focus on one on one.

The targeting system itself seems to rotate through the enemies rather than focusing on the enemies closest to you or in front of you again feeling extremely out of place.

There is a free targeting mode but again this feels clumsy, you will simply attack in whatever direction you're facing, regardless of whether there's an enemy there. This might sound okay for the melee attacks but your ranged magical attacks in particularly will simple fly in a straight line rather than where the enemy you're targeting is.

Finally there is the issue of transformations where everytime you swap to a body transformation you will find the entire screen glow, the game paused and your character replaced by a demon form. This happens every single time making swapping between demon and human annoying.

Overall, the entire combat system is average at best and frustrating. Considering you're stuck with this for the entire game, it can get very frustrating when you're fighting mobs.

I wonder why they didn't just have a side scrolling fighting system like Final Fight or Golden Axe. I think that would have made the game much more bearaeble.

Bioware Morality system- Choices are way too black and white. Unfortunately nearly all the moral choices in the game are way too extreme. Here's an example, one of your characters has a good spirit and an evil spirit living in her. Part way through the game you have to choose between one of them to gain permenant control. The good spirit will co-exist peacefully with her. The evil spirit will torture her for all eternity. This is the type of moral choice you face in the game. Doing the sane normal good approach or the insane psychotic approach.

The same thing happens for teh ending choices which again feel like an extreme choice between good or evil.

Story pacing feels uneven- The first few chapters move somewhat slowly because of the hub cities. 
The game has two hub cities, three if you count the opening village and a world map. Just like in Knights of the Old Republic you get a flyer to travel around the world map. But there are only two hub cities so its almost strange and pointless having such a large world map.
 Once you hit the latter half however, things move at a brisk pace because it becomes a linear succession of levels. I don't hate linear levels necessarily, it just feels strange that it suddenly became so linear.

I like Jade Empire despite its very obvious flaws. I have to admit the combat is below average at best but the game has a unique atmosphere, solid characteristation and good overall writing. I would say try it at the very least, you might just get sucked in assuming you can withstand the terrible combat.

No comments:

Post a Comment