20 May 2021 10:07 AM +00:00

Mass Effect And KOTOR Are Great, But Jade Empire Needs Some Love

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is out now, and it's really quite good (check out our review for more). Despite being a remaster of the trilogy, the release marks Bioware's highest Metascore (90 for the Xbox version) since Mass Effect 3 back in 2011 (93).

With Knights of the Old Republic, or KOTOR, slated to receive a ground-up remake in the coming years, and Dragon Age 4 also on people's minds, it's time to give an underrated title its due - Jade Empire.

Read More: How the KOTOR remake can learn from Final Fantasy VII Remake

Mass Effect And KOTOR Are Great, But Jade Empire Needs Some Love

click to enlarge

It's hard to believe that Jade Empire launched in 2005. Built from the ground up as a new IP, the project was undoubted a left-turn creatively from KOTOR but shared much of its DNA.

The game's morality system, series of open locations and Xbox exclusivity remained, but Jade Empire added a closer approximation of real-time, martial arts combat.

Advertisement

The game's universe is inspired by Chinese mythology, with players taking on the role of the 'Spirit Monk'. Players can throw punches, kicks, spells and use weapons, leading to a much more fluid set of combat scenarios.

While KOTOR's combat could be finicky, landing somewhere between real-time and turn-based combat, Jade Empire's was easy to grasp.

The morality system, while still binary, eschews the traditional 'good' and 'evil' perspectives. Instead, the path of the Open Palm is focused on helping others, while the path of the Closed Fist is intended more for self-reliance.

Then there's the story and world-building. Players battle to overthrow emperor Sun Hai, with interesting party dynamics and fun characters, all set across a beautiful backdrop of Chinese folklore and a typically stunning score from Jack Wall who would go on to score the first two Mass Effect titles.

Would Jade Empire ever get the remake treatment of KOTOR? Almost certainly not, but the prospect of even a HD touch-up is enough to get this writer excited.

The good news is that the game is playable on iOS and Android right now, and it's playable on Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One. If you're looking for your next favourite RPG, it's worth a look.