Jade Empire

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list below.



Full Pros & cons re-review coming soon...

This game was a bit overrated by the press when it came out, and I actually prefer Knights of the Old Republic (which is from the same developer). Some could find the somewhat linear mission structure and fenced-in environments a turn off if they're accustomed to more open world RPGs; the flying portions between major areas of the game's world (which play like an old top down shooter) are silly, needless and not very fun (although, you do have the option to skip the majority of them); and there are many long load screens (up to 30 seconds) between the game's areas—which can put a damper on some of the immersion. But it's still a great game, with very pretty graphics, deep gameplay, an interesting story, and you can play through the game multiple times in several different ways—if your a fan of RPGs (especially KOTOR I & II), then you'll probably enjoy this game.


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Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.


Content sum up: This is pretty intense, and there are a few gory scenes. But, in my opinion, violence and blood are nothing compared to games like Gears of War or Half-life 2 (also rated "M" for Mature). However, the suggestive content is more than mentionable, and there is the option to have romantic, same-sex relationships, and if you're playing as a male (and try hard enough), you can even have both women (together), which makes it not so good for younger teens. I recommend this game for ages 17+.


Full content re-review coming soon...

Blood and gore: The majority of blood effects are in the cutscenes. They are weakly present in gameplay, and I'll clarify in the specific scenes below. When blood is shed it spurts and sprays in moderately thick, bright red jets (or clumps), and though a bit gross (it is blood) the effect is too exaggerated to be offensive, at least in a realistic way (especially with humans). And you can turn blood off in the options menu under "Show gore" on/off. However, it will remain for cutscenes. There are also many dead (but not bloodied) human bodies and skeletons scattered throughout the game.

Specific scenes of blood & gore:

  • An enemy pirate ship is attacking the main character's village. The pirates pull their ship near shore and shoot their cannons at a small group of villagers on the beach. This results in an explosion, and a large jet of blood shoots up from the group (it looks more like they all happened to be standing on a hole that spurts blood), and settles into a puddle on the floor (which quickly dissipates).
  • A traveler fights and kill about five enemy bandits with his staff. There's a little blood visible while he hits them, and when he finishes one off with his spike ended staff, a moderate amount of blood does splatter (the impact isn't seen).
  • A brief scene shows a side character attacked by a large demon and thrown down. The side character gets up, pushes the demon under loose boulders, and uses his powers to drop the boulders on the demon's body, which results in moderate jets of its blood flying out of the debris while it is being crushed.
  • In one small area of the game, there's an enemy that serves an evil demon. These servants were once human, but now feed on human flesh—and with help from the demon, they've turned into twisted little monsters called Cannibals. They're about 3 feet tall, have large deformed heads, small twisted bodies, pointed teeth, and pale grey skin. While fighting through their cave to reach and defeat their leader, you come upon an area with human bodies hanging upside down on meat hooks over a few fires. They've been skinned, so you see the muscle structure. Although it is a gross concept, the bodies aren't too detailed.
  • Once you reach the Cannibal leader's lair, a few Cannibals rush a character in your party. He chops the first one to pieces with his axe, and does the same to another (with blood/gore). He then throws an axes into ones head, resulting in small chunks of blood and flesh flying from it's head, as you see the axe imbeded in it's skull. He then uses his axe to split a skull of another Cannibal (with the same effect). After you've crushed the leader with boulders, it spurts a moderate amount of blood (and chunks of flesh) from underneath the debris.
  • While on your way to meet your assassins guild instructor (you're undercover), a group of fellow assassin recruits stop you and tell you that you're going to have to get through them to prove yourself worthy. You're then forced to fight one of them. Once you defeat him (if you're equipped with a sword), his head will come off, resulting in a violent jet of blood spurting from his neck in impossible amounts. This effect happens about 10 more times out of the over 100 enemies I fought from the first time (about 2/3 through) to the end of the game. It appears to only work when you have a sword, and beyond that it seems pretty random. So, to clarify my statement about the blood effects, they are present with a bladed weapon (you can disable gore in the options menu).
  • After finishing a quest to corrupt the golem army leader, it uses its golems to destroy the facility. You see a couple of assassins killed by them; one explodes in a bloody mess on impact when a golem smashes him with giant axes. The other's throat is cut, resulting in a large jet of blood spurting from the wound.
  • A later scene involves the process showing how they make a golem, and shows an old man dragged and thrown into the middle of the device. The assassins then turn on the machine, which seems to pour acid on the body. You then hear the man's screams, and see his near skeletal form lying in the acid.
  • Near the end of the game, you are briefly put in the shoes of Black Whirlwind. You're made to take down a wave of enemies with your duel axes. So, if you have the gore option on, there will be heads flying and necks slitting left and right, with an obviously exaggerated amount of blood.

Violence: Jade Empire is based on Chinese mythology and puts you in the shoes of a young warrior student that is just about to finish his/her training. The spirits of the dead are wandering because, for some reason, the circle of life has been broken, and the afterlife sealed. You soon find out that you are the last of the Spirit Monks, whose job it is to maintain this now broken balance. Now to fix it...

The combat takes place in real-time and your character has the ability to attack with fists, sword/spears, and magic. He/she also has the ability to dodge, block, and slow down time (similar to the Matrix). The magic attacks include setting fire to your foes, to freezing them with ice and summoning monsters to fight by your side. You spend most of your early time fighting bandits, mercenaries, and pirates, and later on you fight a mixture of humans, restless spirits and ghosts (which you can't kill, just send back to the spirit world), and a variety of (Chinese mythology) demons. And although it is frequent and somewhat intense, it isn't nearly gratuitous.

When you first start the game, you have the choice to play as a male or female, and then pick your class and type (as this is an RPG). There's also a moral system with a branching dialog tree. Whenever you speak to someone, you have the option to give them a good, neutral, or bad/evil response. This also plays into your actions, and you're often given the choice on whether to kill or not, steal or not, etc. An example; you come across a bag of silver while fighting bandits invading your village. When the siege is over, a villager asks if you've seen his bag of silver. If you want to be evil, you can flat out lie, or tell him you have it but he's not getting it back. Or, if you want to be good, you can give it back, and then accept his gift for giving it back, or refuse the gift politely. Depending on what you choose, you'll get points that are then added to either the good (Open Palm) or evil (Closed Fist) side. This system will affect everything in the game, and ultimately shapes the story, from influencing people in your party, relationships, missions, to the overall ending (as there's more than one). I'll list a few more stand out moral choice examples below.

Moral choice:

  • An evil demon is corrupting the forest, and the forest spirit guardian it is being blamed for the problem. A leader wants you to find and kill this spirit, and will reward you for it. You can either find the forest spirit and kill her, or help her kill the demon and bring back peace to the forest. The latter is harder. Although either one you choose, you get the same reward from the man in the end.
  • In a ruined orpanage you come across two restless ghosts, once living children. They tell you the head of the orpanage abandoned them while the building was being flooded. The girl wants you to kill him and bring back his head, and the boy wants you to persuade the man to come back and repent. You can go to the teahouse, where the old man is, and kill him in cold blood, or you can persuade him to join you and have him bury their bones and apologize for his sin.
  • While traversing a graveyard, you come across a restless spirit convinced that his wife killed him. He wants you to lure his wife there so he can kill her. You can find her, take her to him, and help her convince him that she didn't kill him (the truth), or let him kill her, or take him to her house and kill them both.
  • When you've proven yourself to the assassins guild and gained entrance, it's up to you whether to act like one of them or stay clean and make shrewd choices. Your new instructor wants you to take over the process of creating golems, which are clay statues powered by the souls of the dead. They've recently found out that innocent, newly killed people make better golems, especially if murdered in a terrible way. He wants you to go down to where they keep the slaves for this very purpose, murder one, and complete the process. You can either do what he says and murder the slave, or you can go to an abandoned mine shaft and retrieve the soul of an evil spirit which will corrupt the machine and ruin the golem army. You can even go one step further and free the slaves, and kill the assassins guarding them.

Specific scenes of violence:

  • A very early scene shows the master of the village violently hit an enemy pirate leader several times with his fists. To finish the pirate off, he apparently chops and breaks the pirates neck (with appropriate sound effects).
  • Early on, as you are trying to rescue a fellow villager, you come upon a group of villagers standing of over a man's dead and currently burning body. You find out that the man you're after used a fire spell to murder him. Though the scene isn't too graphic, it's more than suggestive.
  • If you ask Black Whirlwind about his past, he will tell you a story of when he was hired to oversee a peace treaty between two warring clans. Later on the clans started to fight over a beautiful clan woman, and the negotiations started to fall apart. Trying to remedy the situation, Black Whirlwind says he chopped her in half with his axes, and gave one half to each clan. He said it didn't work, and he still doesn't quite know why.

Suggestive themes: The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating. You can play as a female, and one of the character model choices, in particular, happens to wear an outfit similar to what the female pictured at the top of this page is wearing. if you can't see it too well, the top and shorts are tight fitting, with the top being worn like a somewhat modest bikini top, which shows moderate cleavage, and the shorts end at her upper thighs. Also, a couple of the supporting female characters wear slightly revealing attire—the outfit first listed is the extent of scant clothing. You can also have romantic relationships with a couple of your party members. If you're male, you can have a romance with one or both of the female characters (the latter requires two very high-level dialog skills, Charm and Intuition). If you're female, you can pursue the male character or a specific female character. After pursuing your a character, you can approach them near the very end of the game and invite them to your tent. Nothing is shown, you just know they slept together (this element of the game is entirely optional and completely avoidable).

  • A character in your party, Black Whirlwind, is a large, burly and simple-minded person. When you first meet him, he tells you a story about how he attacked an enemy encampment on his own, while naked, screaming and drunk, flailing his axes in the night. When you ask what scared the enemy, he tells you when they looked down in his lower area they cowered in shame (optional conversation).
  • You visit the heaven realm several times, where the gods of Chinese mythology reside. One type is in the form of a fox, in the shape of a female human body. They are virtually naked, except for a very short skirt. The offensive factor is lessened by the fact that they are actual foxes and completely covered by fur.
  • There are a few prostitutes in two of the main cities. If you approach and talk to them, they will say a few suggestive things, but all of them will say they're not interested in you, and there's no way you can do anything with them.
  • The only way to infiltrate the assassins guild is to fake interest and get attention from one of their recruiters. One recruiter wants you to prove yourself by taking down a corrupt city official, who might leak some info about the corrupt assassins guild. When you try to approach Fang (the city official), his guards tell you there's no way to see him. When you inquire further, they tell you that he's a sexual pervert, and they feel sorry for his concubine, who they then direct you to for more information. When you aproach her she says, "Sorry big boy. I'm not open for business. Unless you're into something twisted, then he might watch. Fang's always looking for some new perversion to make his 'little soldier stand attention.'" The conversation goes along these lines, as you learn more about how terribly perverted he is.

Mild language: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it is mild) The majority of the language comes from the loud-mouthed Black Whirlwind, and since you can choose who fights beside you during your missions, if you don't bring him along, there will be far less language during the in-game dialog—there are under a dozen uses of d**n, and three or under uses of hell and bastard.


Use of alcohol: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating) There are a couple of teahouses that serve alcohol, and you do see a few side characters who appear to be drunk—you don't have the option to go to one of these bars and buy or drink alcohol. Black Whirlwind likes to drink constantly (though it's never seen), and says it makes him fight better. Another character in your party can teach you the Drunken Master style, which invovles him throwing bottles of wine at you to activate the skill. It's a form of the illusion and unpredicability of being drunk, with strange movements to throw off your enemy. This style is entirely optional and it's honestly not useful.


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