Generally favorable reviews - based on 84 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 82 out of 84
  2. Negative: 0 out of 84
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  1. 100
    Enthralling and beautiful, Jade Empire melds adrenaline-inducing combat with a compelling RPG structure perfectly. Here's an RPG that anyone can enjoy -- Jade Empire is sheer pleasure.
  2. Cheat Code Central
    Jade Empire plays like an epic Chinese movie. Kung Fu is blended with ancient Chinese legends for a game that is unpredictable and captivating. It's just as amazing to watch as it is to play.
  3. 100
    The first time we laid down a "Harmonic Combo" and watched as the body parts of our enemies literally rained down from the sky, we were hopelessly, head-over-heels in love.
  4. Enemies can be vulnerable or immune to different attacks, which causes you to often evaluate your styles. And I love that you can change the difficulty even in the middle of missions. Whew!
  5. 100
    By combining stunning visuals, an entertaining (and challenging) combat system, and one of the best stories in recent memory, the folks at BioWare have somehow managed to create yet another brilliant game.
  6. With a subtle, yet engrossing mix of comedy, intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, mythology, magic, sadness, rage, joy and excitement wrapped up in a wonderfully charming oriental package, there are considerably worse ways of investing the 20-25 hours it'll take you to play through first time around.
  7. 99
    One of the greatest action RPG's of all-time. Combat is easy to learn but immeasurably deep.
  8. A fantastic RPG game that not only lives up to its hype, but also far surpasses it by featuring some incredible gameplay, an engrossing storyline, and a huge amount of polish.
  9. As a martial artist I can't express how much I'm enjoying this game. The styles are spot-on, the conversation is professional quality, the graphics are fantastic, and the storyline is everything you could hope for.
  10. This is the type of game that will simply suck days out of your life while you're playing it, and forgetting about the rest of the world around you.
  11. Everything is done well from the tip of your top knot to the soles of your butt kicking shoes. Some people may be intimidated by the massive amount of reading and conversations that you come upon in this game, but serious RPGers will revel in it.
  12. Jade Empire is THE Role Playing Game to own on the Xbox, the best game on the Xbox period, and probably one of the best games released in the last 5 years. Are you sufficiently hyped yet?
  13. The key ingredient is its mesmerizing story that complements the outstanding overall art direction. Even the action-oriented gamer should find plenty to like with the game's real-time combat system.
  14. Whether you're switching between targets with the L and R triggers, rapidly moving from style to style or unloading an area attack to buy some time to regenerate health using Chi, you'll always feel in total control, and you'll never grow tired of mixing up the battle tactics.
  15. No other RPG released this generation could match up to Jade Empire and I am glad Bioware had the balls to go through with the game.
  16. With extremely high production values, an open-ended story, and just about everything else a good RPG needs, Jade Empire is a brilliant experience.
  17. The best sequel [to "KOTOR"] that is not really a sequel that I have ever played.
  18. Both the graphics and audio seal the deal with stellar performances. From the environments, to the voice-overs, to the cutscenes, Jade Empire creates an entire experience that more then justifies its cost.
  19. BioWare has not only made a sweet combat system, but the game's universe itself is a joy. [May 2005, p.118]
  20. 95
    With it's captivating plot line, intelligent writing, eye popping visuals, haunting soundtrack, and genius battle system Jade Empire is a model for stellar game design.
  21. Jade Empire is a beautiful, resounding triumph, much like the strong, highly polished gemstone the game takes its name from.
  22. Official Xbox Magazine
    Jade's world is its foremost strength. A fantastical mix of myths and pure fiction, you'll find it hard to put the controller down once you've been sucked in. [Apr 2005, p.40]
  23. Jade Empire's unusual setting and deep, rich story should make it appealing to RPG fans. Other gamers will appreciate the more action-focused combat and shorter game length – about half that of typical RPGs.
  24. Fans of RPGs will be dying (or killing) to get their hands on this exciting, involving and exceptional game, that may take your ability to speak or interact with other human beings away from you.
  25. What really makes this trek through mythological ancient China stand out from the rest of the RPG pack is indeed the combat. BioWare has freed itself from the shackles of turn-based battles to produce an ingenious real-time fighting system that involves as much strategy as it does quick reflexes.
  26. Like the visuals, the audio is amazing. The score of the game is probably one of the best I've heard and really gives you a sense of the epic nature of the game.
  27. The world is imaginative and beautiful, and the characters are very interesting and present many new options for the player. This one easily lives up to the Bioware name and goes alongside many of their past titles as instant classics.
  28. 92
    Unfortunately, the main quest is short by RPG standards. Luckily, the game is jam packed with side quests, and experimenting with different characters and your good/evil allignment on multiple playthroughs will last awhile.
  29. There's incredible depth, high production values, and a story that starts out rather generic, but turns into a flat-out epic.
  30. If you're expecting "Knights of the Old Republic," or "Baldur's Gate," or "Neverwinter Nights," but with ancient magical Chinese warriors, you've come to the wrong place. This is a very different game. But a very good one.
    The visual splendour of the whole land will undoubtedly entice Xbox owners to the shops - and quite rightly so - but it's the underlying quests that will keep them involved in the game until the bitter end.
  32. Although it is more of an action game at heart with RPG elements as second though, BioWare have yet again created a true work of art.
  33. When you boot up Jade Empire, you'll be on your way to an engaging story, a challenging, rewarding combat experience and an impressive measure of character building.
  34. If you enjoy the BioWare style of RPG, then a purchase of this game is a no-brainer.
  35. A near-masterpiece. Its sumptuous graphics provide enough eye candy to give your pupils diabetes and its combat system will frequently propel you into new areas just to kick the asses of a few more enemies.
  36. Only one thing stops us from awarding top honours to this game: the lack of a co-op mode, which would have been an obvious inclusion.
  37. Martial arts have always been fascinating. BioWare creates a thoroughly enjoyable game as this RPG features an engaging plot and solid real-time fighting system.
  38. The finest combat system we've seen so far, coupled with strong moralistic storytelling and enjoyable gameplay, results in a must-have purchase.
  39. Worth the wait? Hell yeah. It's another stunning RPG from BioWare that, while bringing little new to the genre, is an absolute joy to behold. [Xbox World]
  40. Play Magazine
    Could be the deepest action-RPG ever in terms of story. Jade is loaded with quests, breathtaking panoramas and tomes of love. [May 2005, p.48]
  41. Great fun, high replayability, good control, attention to detail, interesting story, high production values, and a great gameplay experience – Jade Empire comes recommended.
  42. As it stands, however, it feels like I'm missing ten hours' worth of gameplay. It's a testament to the strength of the rest of the game that I really want those hours.
  43. The sheer accessible quality of Jade will grab the huge portion of mainstream gamers introduced to the role-playing genre by KOTOR, and drag them kicking and screaming into a sumptuous, surreal world of elephant demons and ancient lore - a considerable achievement for a new franchise. [Official UK Xbox Magazine]
  44. 90
    It may not be the "Morrowind" killer in our eyes, but Jade Empire is a very solid title that will keep you playing right to the very end.
  45. Sure, Jade Empire isn't "KOTOR" (despite so many similarities), but that's a rough peak to meet. It's still an easy contender for the title of second-best RPG on the Xbox.
  46. The fantasy world created for the game features plenty of detail, with some of the environments players must traverse looking absolutely fantastic.
  47. With its rich story, inventive surroundings and characters, there is definitely just enough depth to keep you coming at least one or two more times after completing it once.
  48. You will be in vigilantly enthralled until the very end of the epic quest.
  49. 90
    This is the XBox RPG to own, great combat, a brilliant storyline and fantastic character modelling.
  50. Jade Empire is "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic all over again." It's not the same game. It is, however, a likened journey that'll leave you completing many of the same actions you have in the other game, only this time under a different guise.
  51. Pelit (Finland)
    Blessed with a first-class story and some great dialogue and voice acting. The RPG elements feel a bit too simplistic, but the game is much too interesting to let that bother you. [May 05]
  52. 90
    There are just enough rough edges--erratic frame rates, astronomically long load times, and the aforementioned camera problems--to suggest that Jade Empire may have benefited from a few extra months of development polish. But no matter. In the end, the game is still hopelessly engrossing and thoroughly replayable.
  53. If you thought "Fable" and "Knights of the Old Republic" were the best RPGs the Xbox had to offer, you need to think again. Jade Empire is the new king of Xbox RPGs, and it doesn't look like anything will be releasing this year to top it.
  54. The battle system may initially seem unwieldy, particularly with unhelpful camera angles often obscuring foes, but its subtle sophistication adds terrific depth.
  55. Pelaaja (Finland)
    An excellent console action RPG, but Bioware has raised the bar so high with their previous games, that you just can't help to feel a bit disappointed with the end result. Or maybe that's just the relatively short length of the game. [May 2005, p 74]
  56. Its main problem lies in the fact that it is a lesser version of two genres – action and RPG. If you want Asian flip around fighting action, Ninja Gaiden was pretty great; you should check it out. If you want a deep RPG set in an exciting new world, Knights of the Old Republic does that job just fine.
  57. 89
    The game truly is well written and a joy to look at, unfortunately the fighting is an underachievement and the character customization is surprisingly lacking.
  58. A fantastic RPG that takes several concepts from various games and genres, simplifies them, and puts them into a neat package. It's not as deep as "Knights of the Old Republic" and seems to be more of what was promised with "Fable."
  59. Despite the somewhat brutal attack against the game's battle system, it really isn't too bad, especially if you up the difficulty from the hand holding-like default setting.
  60. The lack of an inventory, the streamlined nature of the game (approximately twenty hours of play), and the real-time combat may be off-putting to some.
  61. Hardcore RPG fans may complain about the relatively short story, or the lack of detailed resource management – but for the everyday gamer like myself, Jade Empire fits the bill just fine.
  62. 85
    A linear, abbreviated experience that, while ambitious and gorgeous to behold, is not Bioware's finest hour.
  63. If you look at Jade Empire as Bioware's next RPG, you'll be disappointed, as it is really a step back from Bioware's previous endeavors. However, when looked at as more of an action title, Jade Empire is much more palatable.
  64. It's a game that will reward those that spend the time with it properly rather than rush through.
  65. A brilliant debut title for veteran Bioware's self-created world, combining solid storytelling with blisteringly fast and brutal martial-arts action.
  66. If the setting of Jade Empire appeals to you, along with the promise of a good storyline and some open-ended role playing, then you'll be more than satisfied with BioWare's latest game.
  67. Its lack of depth becomes immediately apparent after finishing the game. There's just no desire to go back and try things a different way, or to do some optional quests. This is mostly because the "different way" is either very petty or senselessly evil, and the optional quests are very rare.
  68. 84
    After all is said and done, Jade Empire is just another linear RPG with a familiar design.
  69. Despite its generally underwhelming fighting system and lack of depth, this is a solid, satisfying action epic.
  70. 80
    What will sell Jade Empire (and something it has in spades) is Oriental charm; from the story to the environment, the fighting to the character interaction, it's all very enjoyable and immersive; which is exactly how an RPG should be.
  71. Action fans will find the combat too simple, while RPG fans will find the inability to customise their character to any major degree frustrating.
  72. games(TM)
    BioWare has managed to create a new franchise that will grow to become the cornerstone of the developer's flourishing portfolio. [June 2005, p.94]
  73. It has a story done perfectly, and the action is slightly above tolerable, so most of the serious problems can mostly be overlooked. This game comes recommended, whether you like martial arts films or not.
  74. AceGamez
    I am prepared to overlook the rather predictable storyline in favour of the beautiful landscapes and masterful sound, each capturing the very essence of every science fiction fantasy martial arts film on the planet.
  75. Real time combat is simultaneously both Jade Empire's greatest achievement and its biggest flaw. When it works, it's more satisfying than any role playing game on the market. This is marred, however, by a dodgy camera and flawed upgrade system.
  76. Granted, the lack of indepth stat-management or extensive character customization may offset hardcore RPG fans, but those looking for an action game that offers much, much more than simple "action" will definitely want to check this out.
  77. netjak
    If you're waiting for the Xbox to get a true RPG, well, you need to keep waiting. This is about as action oriented as it gets.
  78. It won't have the longevity of "KOTOR," and the difficulty factor basically reduces to an enemy health multiplier, but Jade Empire is still an enjoyable romp.
  79. 80
    Their only major failing was the combat system.
  80. After playing this title I personally felt let down. This was an amazingly solid title and is well deserving of a good deal of the surrounding hype, but I might have entered the game knowing too much.
  81. 80
    Despite the lack of strife, Jade Empire does an excellent job of finding a nice middle ground between action games and RPGs.
  82. 78
    But for me, as a long time RPG fan and proud owner of every BioWare title, the thrill has gone. I fear this great Canadian company is in danger of becoming the EA sports of RPGs.
  83. Edge Magazine
    Despite its paucity of detail, Jade Empire is still many, many things, some are fine and some poor, but for a game to contain so much is a testament to its breadth, and the reason why it'll remain a worthwhile expedition for many. [June 2005, p.80]
  84. Computer Games Magazine
    If they could have made it into the underpinnings of a stronger combat system, perhaps the other areas of the game where they played it safe wouldn't have seemed so grossly rehashed. [July 2005, p.88]

Awards & Rankings

#6 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2005
#9 Most Shared Xbox Game of 2005
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 144 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 12 out of 144
  1. Nov 19, 2010
    Amazing story. A fantastic trip from beginning to end. The brilliant dialogue and talented voice-acting make for an unforgettable role-playingAmazing story. A fantastic trip from beginning to end. The brilliant dialogue and talented voice-acting make for an unforgettable role-playing experience. Even the real-time combat style and the diversity of character abilities are a lot of fun (the kinds of things that often tend to be weaknesses in RPG's). With Jade Empire, Bioware struck gold. Full Review »
  2. Mar 17, 2011
    This game is FANTASTIC!!! one of the best games I've ever played, this had fantastic graphics for the time, and the sound is still top notch,This game is FANTASTIC!!! one of the best games I've ever played, this had fantastic graphics for the time, and the sound is still top notch, the story is fantastic and you really think before making a decision because your choices alter the world around you, and the side quests are AMAZING!!! they are all unique and are just so much fun to play through, and it has some cool things to find out like new fighting techniques, but keep in mind while playing this is really easy (think Fable II & III easy) so you may want to crank up the difficulty, out of all the Bioware RPGs I've played this is so far there best, a must own and it truly earns a perfect 10. Full Review »
  3. Oct 19, 2011
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