Jade Empire is very much a case of 'what's not to like?', this being the second Xbox title from the developers of KOTOR. For one it plays in very similar fashion to the Star Wars classic, but with real-time martial arts and magical combat replacing turn-based light sabre shenanigans. And for two, it's broadly inspired by some of the highlights of Oriental cinema, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero. See, what's not to like?!
Once you've selected your character and been introduced to the mystical world where you live (which is absolutely stunning - a riot of colour, intricate Far Eastern design and lovely soft-focus lighting), it's straight into the action. You'll start out with just two fighting styles, one melee and one magical, and each can be allocated a slot on the D-pad, allowing you to swap between them easily during fights.
More ways of dishing out punishment will become available as the game progresses, either by parting with your cash, learning from a master or defeating skilled opponents. Combining the styles is the key to success game, and scrapping is as much about tactical thinking as it is sharp reflexes.
The 'wahey, I'm Jet Li!' combat is definitely the game's big pull, but it also bares all the finer hallmarks of KOTOR. Multiple dialogue options and gameplay choices give you the option to be an absolute swine or a noble hero and your alignment will have a direct bearing on how others treat you in the game world. The story seems to be a corker too and with over 300 different NPC characters to meet, greet or slap around, you won't be short of company on your travels. Jade Empire is set to be the absolute business and we can't wait.
Jade Empire is due out for Xbox in March