Friday, 4 December 2015

Retro News - Amazing Free Game Extravaganza!

I suspect a great many gamers remember an epic adventure/RPG by BioWare called Jade Empire which quickly enchanted all those who sampled its splendidness a couple of generations ago. It was released a somewhat startling 10 years ago now and, while popular, primarily on the original Xbox, it never really reached the level of success many believe it deserved. That, however, could hopefully be about to change.

Electronic Arts are pretty far from my favourite company in the games industry (see here if you are interested) but on this day they bring glad tidings. EA, you see, in their never-ending quest to buy up all of the world's development studios, were successful in adding BioWare to their now-extensive collection. Historically, this would be a bad thing - EA have acquired a reputation for, at best, meddling in games being developed by the studios they own or, at worst, even dismantling a studio entirely (R.I.P. Westwood Studios). But it seems I may have to set aside the fury with which I usually view them, at least temporarily, for I have discovered they are not an entirely cold, calculating, evil entity of a company after all, at least in one particular way.

Yes that's right, as many gamers apparently already knew very well, those confounded rapscallions at EA have a fine website known as 'Origin' where they give away whole entire games for free! They are available only for a limited time but are free to keep forever (or at least until we blow ourselves up), and the latest freebie, to finally get to my original point (sorry!), is the mighty Jade Empire. If fact, not only is this entire fantastic game now available for free, but it's the Special Edition version too! This might not make a tremendous amount of difference to someone who hasn't played it before, and the two original versions for Xbox and Windows may not cost much now anyway, but it's still very nice of them and undoubtedly worth checking out either way.

It would be best described as an 'action RPG' but it's a very special one, even for the RPG purists who deride that very term, and that's largely thanks to the setting and story which follows the mythical 'Wuxia' style. Accordingly, the story features lots of fancy martial arts and takes places in Imperial China, although in a fictional kingdom, and is divided into seven chapters.

You play the part of either a male or female martial arts student who is under the tutelage of Master Li, head of the Two Rivers martial arts school, and it's your job to look into his disappearance when he is kidnapped by mysterious forces following an attack on the village where the school is located. After travelling to the Imperial City along with a couple of friends, however, it soon looks as though the situation is not as simple as it appeared. I suppose that's a given really but it's not easy to explain without giving away spoilers. It really is an engrossing, open-ended adventure, though, full of twists and turns, and it takes place within a stunning environment full of beautiful locales.

More combat techniques and all sorts of magical items become available as you play and the characters are superb too, including a ton of highly convincing NPC's who often seem more real than in any other game I've played. You can even pursue a romantic relationship with some of them (including gay or lesbian ones) and the game features its own language which was created specially for it.

Basically then, Jade Empire is a fantastic game. It was wonderful back when it was released and it remains wonderful today, so its release for free by those surprisingly kind fellows at EA gives us all call to rejoice. Players such as myself, my good friend Luke who introduced me to the game, and everyone else who's already played it now have an excuse to do so again (which is far from a hardship), while those who have never sampled its delights no longer have any real reason not to. So, do yourself a favour and spend some time in the Golden Delta. Thank you Electronic Arts.

Download Jade Empire: Special Edition for PC from the Origin website here.

Gameplay Video: Here's a sample of the beginning of the game to whet your appetite :)



  1. I just recently starting playing this game again after finding the Xbox disk deep inside by random DVD binder on accident! Sweet!

  2. Nice :) I bought the Xbox version about a year ago (for £1 as I recall) and it's... lovely :)