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Jade Empire review

A tasty stir-fy of kung-fu combat, deamons and mysticism, seasoned with beauty and personality


  • It genuinely feels gorgeous and epic
  • Fun sidequests flow into the main story
  • Lush environments


  • Combat doesn't encourage mixing styles
  • Partners are unballanced
  • Short skirts = yay ; Short game = boo

Moments like these are why we love Jade Empire: four members of a deadly assassin's guild have our character and her companion, a small girl perhaps eight years old, surrounded. The assassins haven't got a chance.

Magical claws sprout from our lovely avatar's wrists and we tear the first opponent to shreds with a quick flurry of strikes and kicks. We vault fluidly over and behind him. We land just in time to initiate a magical combo that traps a second assassin in a stone cocoon and then summons a twenty-foot serpent to breathe fire in a circular arc around us. We pull out the only flint rifle in Asia to give the remaining targets a taste of lead, but the little girl with us has already taken care of business. She turned into a twelve foot-tall demon and effortlessly gutted them with its giant, clawed paws.

This is the world of Jade Empire, where everything looks, sounds, and feels slightly more exotic and otherworldly than real life. Throw out your preconceived notion that Jade Empire is just developer BioWare's previous hit, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic in an ancient Asian setting. Yes, both are RPGs dressing as action games. Yes, both have a wide cast of interesting party members, as well as excellent, well-paced plotlines full of "Are you good or evil?" decisions and intricate conversations. But there's a lot more here than that.

More Info

Release date:12 April 2005 (US), 22 April 2005 (UK)
Available platforms:Xbox
Genre:Role Playing
ESRB rating:Mature