Jade Empire - hands-on

The reworked combat on PC works well too, even if it does take a while to get used to its intricacies - blocking, dodging, focusing power and dancing between light and heavy attacks. You can also specialize in any one of approximately a gazillion different fighting styles, and three or four of these are available in the game’s opening martial arts school, bandit attack and swamp-set scenes.

As you level-up, you put points into your favored disciplines as well as the usual character improvement ones, while there are also a ton of magical shiny gems that you can lodge in your ancestral amulet to stick a few pluses into the areas where you need them most.

You see, something is rotten in the heart of the Jade Empire, and it’s having an impact on people who’ve shuffled off their mortal coils - the path to the afterlife has been blocked and there’s a whole lot of spectral huffing and moaning going on.

Because of this, you can prepare for a few ghost-based variants on BioWare’s staple moral dilemma template, mothers wracked by guilt after the death and reappearance of their infants and the like. There’s also quite a few demons that look like bipedal rhinos and some horses knocking about - but they’re more a sign of the Jade Empire being a bit odd rather than something more sinister.

Whether the changes shackled into the Jade redux will prove mostly cosmetic remains to be seen, as does whether the tight confines of the game and its comparatively short playtime will grate in a PC sphere not exactly neck-deep in role-play rivals. But, four or five hours in, we certainly feel like a sexy kung-fu fighter. And that doesn’t happen every day. 


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