Part 1: Character SelectionEpisode 00: Character Selection
MUSIC: Jade Empire Main Theme
Welcome to Jade Empire! As soon as we hit the title screen we're treated to Jack Wall's wonderful main theme and a scenic shot of the game's starting area, which do a great job establishing the feel of Jade Empire before we even press start. One slightly unfortunate issue here is that the game wasn't quite optimized for widescreen; as a result things like the menus and HUD elements are stretched horizontally. The actual gameplay looks fine, so it's not a huge deal.
The character creation is rather streamlined compared to KotOR. We don't get to customize our appearance or anything like that, instead we have a selection of seven predefined characters (six in the original Xbox version; Monk Zeng here was only in the limited edition as well as the Special Edition we're playing)
The streamlining is obvious from the stats screen as well. We only have three main attributes to raise: Body, Spirit, and Mind, affecting your health, chi and focus stats respectively. These main attributes are raised using skill points from levelups. There are also three conversation skills, each determined by two of the main stats: Charm (Body + Mind), Intimidate (Body + Spirit), and Intuition (Spirit + Mind). We can find various ways to boost our stats and conversation skills throughout the game, but it is all very simple.
As for Monk Zeng himself, he is a Magic type character and by default he starts off with a boost to his Spirit, making him ideal for using magic styles and boosting strikes with chi. You can click on the Custom option to allocate the points yourself if you want to, which is what I'm showing off in the screenshot. You can also select which fighting styles your character starts with, or just stick with the defaults. Before we do anything else, though, let's look at the different characters.
Wu the Lotus Blossom is a Balanced character, who as you might expect are decent at everything they do and have no advantages in any particular area. She's on the original box art and prominently features in promo materials, so she might be considered the "canon" main character of Jade Empire if you care about that kind of thing.
Furious Ming is a Fast character, which is also quite self-explanatory. He's not as strong as other classes, but makes up for it with speedy attacks and dodges. Fast characters get a boost to Focus, allowing them to use weapons for longer or spend more time in Focus mode (sort of a bullet time thing).
Tiger Shen is a Strong character. No prizes are awarded for guessing what his strengths and weaknesses are. He lumbers around and facetanks enemy attacks like no other. Literally no other, because he's the only Strong type character in Jade Empire. The other classes get both a male and female option.
Radiant Jen Zi is the female Fast character. She starts off with a slightly worse Body attribute than Furious Ming (possibly due to her lack of pants), but makes up for it with higher Spirit.
Scholar Ling was the only Magic type character in the original release of the game, here her counterpart is of course Monk Zeng. She's a bit less durable than Zeng, but her higher Mind allows for more Focus.
Lu the Prodigy is the second Balanced character and starts off with a higher Body attribute than Wu the Lotus Blossom. I'm sensing a bit of a trend here, not that it really matters because you can allocate the points however you please. Lu also has most boring design of them all, so nobody ever plays as him.
In this LP, we're playing as Wu the Lotus Blossom. I kept the default stats and fighting styles because those will do just fine for now. You can also change your character's name, either by typing in DONGS or BUTTS or whatever or trying your luck with the random name generator. We'll be going with the default.
Let's begin the game then, shall we?