Jade Empire was the first game I ever bought full price on Steam. On Release Day. That’s how happy I was when it came to PC after all, because at first JE was an XBOX exclusive and therefore I used to think I’d never play it.
Back then I didn’t even know about BioWare and that they were the same company which had developed Baldur’s Gate, which was, especially at that time, one of my favorite games of all time. I didn’t pay any attention to company names and logos at the beginning of a game and even if I had, the names would have been meaningless to me. I’m sure there were people even back then who were mainly looking forward to JE for that reason alone, but I was just curious about this game simply because I thought it looked interesting. There was a lot of fun to be had and I liked that they included a couple of things in the PC release the former XBOX version was lacking. It’s great if devs try to do at least something special, if their game is just a late port.
I hadn’t played JE in several years, but still thought of the game every know and then, so when Origin put JE up for free, I thought it was as good a time as any to play it again. The Origin download was worth the bandwidth for the soundtrack alone – I was too lazy to download it on Steam as well just to check for that, but I can’t remember that the JE – Special Edition on Steam came with such a set of goodies. The music is very well done and the artist Jack Wall would later work on most of the Mass Effect soundtracks too. If I wouldn’t have seen the name I never would have guessed it, because those themes are really different.
The game played a little bit more boring at times than I remembered and the combat isn’t for everyone – also there are the strong similarities to KotOR because of the engine and some of the design, but the setting still makes it… maybe not unique but uncommon. I don’t believe anymore that they could do such a game today (and a “sequel”/reboot would only share the name/brand), because for one it would have to be open world, because… EVERYTHING has to be open world and I think this would be especially unnecessary/inappropriate here. It would be interesting to see how the combat system would be revamped, that’s something I wouldn’t even want to see come back unchanged and I guess they would use Frostbite now because that’s what they use for everything…
PS: All the bugs are still in of course. The camera that’s sometimes just showing the floor and a savegame has to be reloaded to “fix” it, Dawn Star’s clothing is showing wrong textures, but modders did what BW refused to do and I’m sure I forgot something, but you get the picture. :D