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YMMV / Jade Empire

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: There's a big one with the issue of the Emperor, Sun Li, and the gods as relating to the drought which afflicted the kingdom. We only know the actions of the Emperor and Sun Li after the drought, which include massacring the Spirit Monks as well as enslaving the Water Dragon but some fans believe their behavior may have been bad beforehand and resulted in the gods sending the drought to punish them. Others believe they may have been motivated by I Did What I Had to Do and Rage Against the Heavens to save their Empire against a horrific curse. Others may note the gods may simply have been maintaining the natural order that would have caused the drought in the first place while others believe that's yet another reason for the Sun family's actions. In the end, the game gives no clue to the moral character of either man before they ended up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
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  • Complete Monster: Sun Li is also known as the Glorious Strategist. Prior to the game he orchestrated the genocide of the spirit monks, the protectors of the Water Dragon, the goddess in charge of rain and reincarnation. Ostensibly he did this to force the Water Dragon to save his empire from a drought, but in reality his plan was to kill his brother, Emperor Sun Hai, and take the power of the Water Dragon for himself, becoming a god. This would have the side effect of stopping the cycle of reincarnation and cause the dead to rise up and attack the living. After his protégé, the last Spirit Monk, kills his brother for him, he murders the last Spirit Monk, takes the powers of the goddess for himself, raises his younger brother, Sun Kai, from the dead to be his servant, and has the Lotus Assassins abduct and murder people to use their souls to power an invincible golem army for himself. Sun Li is a sociopath, incapable of empathy or seeing people as anything other than tools. He raised the last Spirit Monk since infancy as a son/daughter, but kills him/her without a second thought after s/he had outlived his/her usefulness; and he has no problem with trying to kill his birth daughter, Dawn Star, either. While he tries to paint himself as well-intentioned, he's obviously lying to save himself, and, in the ending where he wins, his "utopia" is nothing more than an Orwellian dictatorship where everyone blindly worships Sun Li as a god, and the mere act of questioning him can bring death upon the asker.
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  • Cult Classic: While well received, it didn't quite set the world on fire the way Bioware's other two major franchises have. Despite that, there's still a dedicated fanbase for the game still asking for a sequel.
  • Demonic Spiders: Lost Spirits have the potential to become these. Especially at higher difficulties or New Game+, which automatically makes your game much more difficult. They have an annoying homing ranged attack, are immune to many useful styles and tend to move away from the player while shooting at him. At lower difficulties, they avoid being Demonic Spiders due to having low health. On higher difficulties, they have huge amounts of health, making them ridiculously hard to kill, while doing insane amounts of damage, turning every fight against them into a frustrating ordeal.
  • Disappointing Last Level: The game loses its way in the final three chapters (which, it should be noted, are far smaller than Chapters 2 and 3, which contain hub levels). The morality becomes far more black and white, with none of the nuanced exploration of the Closed Fist philosophy that was attempted in previous chapters, each chapter is a straightforward slog through an army of enemies with very little dialogue and only a handful of trivial sidequests, the ending is decided by a single choice that completely overrides your existing karma, and the whole thing feels rushed.
  • Game-Breaker: Quite a few:
    • Mirabelle: A gun in a setting with swords and fists, though its somewhat balanced by the large amount of focus and the time needed to load after each shot—significant even when fully upgraded—the occasional misfire, and an arguable lack of power compared to its rate of fire. However, it is incredibly unfair in the arena though due to the fact that you are usually fighting one on one and it deals enough knockback to throw the opponent far enough away that you can reload another shot. Similarly, the Final Boss is laughably easy to defeat with Mirabelle as you can simply stun-lock him with it until he croaks.
    • The Jade Golem transformation is completely unbalanced and will break through pretty much anything in seconds while exposing the player to almost no damage, even when fighting the game's final boss enemies. While there is a Chi drain active while using it, battle tends to end so quickly with it active that you lose little Chi (and one of the more useful party member's support ability is chi regeneration anyway.)
      • Oddly, the Jade Golem is weakest to, well, groups of Mooks. Jade Golem's strength comes from being invulnerable to all unarmed styles, status effects and most advanced attacks...but not weapons, which in groups most Mooks usually have. Groups of Mooks can simply surround whale on you, and the ones have weapons will chip away at your health while you slowly kill them one by one. On top of that, if there are enough mooks, they could quite easily outlast your chi reservoir.
    • Before the Jade Golem transformation is unlocked, there is also the Storm Dragon style which has a near ten-second stun effect, during which the play is free to attack away with impunity. Combined with its resonance combo producing an endless supply of Focus orbs, the player can easily activate and remain in Focus Mode for the entire duration of combat so long as the combos are activated. This was the only style significantly changed for the "Jade Empire In Style" mod. This effect does not work on ghosts, however - and many of the harder enemies cannot have Resonance Combos used against them. The Jade Golem transformation, on the other hand, works on everything.
    • Earlier still, the Toad Demon transformation is pretty unbeatable too.
    • Paralysing Palm. Hit your enemy a few times, go into focus mode, switch to a damaging style, go to town. Notably, it's more-or-less a cut-down version of Storm Dragon.
    • The final transformation style unlocked in the game is the Red Minister Style. While not as ludicrously strong as the Jade Golem Style, this style drains health and Chi with each successful hit. If you run towards your enemy, transform into the Red Minister and continually hit the enemy, you can win the fight without losing one drop of health or Chi.
    • In-story, the Phoenix Unity style was banned from arena matches for this reason; the player, sadly, can't learn it.
    • Hell, at the default difficulty even the sword you get a few minutes in will make you an unstoppable whirlwind through most of the game as long as you fill in the upgrades and buy or find the stronger swords later. The dual-swords style makes everything but spirit fights from that point on a total joke even at the hard setting. Dual-axes are even worse, if only because it doesn't cost Focus points to use when fully upgraded; however, if you can kill the guy who carries the Tang's Vengeance axes, you probably don't need them anyway.
    • The forward flip evasive move allows the player to easily avoid almost every attack the game can throw at you, hitstuns all but the larger enemies in the game if you land on them, and puts the player in the perfect postion to hit enemies a couple of times before they can turn around even if they haven't been hitstunned. A typical battle with a player that has realized this will probably be something like: Flip! Strike! Flip! Strike! Flip! Strike! and so on and so on. it makes it incredibly easy to curbstomp countless battles against multiple foes in succession without ever taking a hit.
    • The simple act of switching styles in the middle of a standard combo can be repeated for eternity, stunlocking many enemies into oblivion. Combine that with a slowing status effect and most enemies simply cease to be problems on their own.
    • Focus mode, which puts the world into black-and-white Bullet Time while you move at full speed. It doesn't matter how strong an enemy is if you've put them down before they can make their first attack.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Lost Spirits attack in groups (that tend to be spread out), have homing ranged attacks that drain both your HP and Chi, and give ridiculously paltry EXP. They turn into Demonic Spiders when they're supporting an actual dangerous boss. Also, they respawn in most areas you find them in. At least their strong attack doesn't home...
    • Ghost Lords are equally annoying—their attacks are less powerful, but they have ridiculous amounts of health.
    • Red Ministers even more so, since they constantly sap your Chi, have stupid amounts of HP and constantly block. Thankfully there are perhaps three or four in the entire game.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sun Li, the Glorious Strategist, orchestrated the downfall of the Spirit Monks and upon failing to overthrow his evil brother, Emperor Sun Hai, kills the guardian of the last Spirit Monk and becomes his caretaker in the wilderness. Training the Spirit Monk to defeat Sun Hai one day, Sun Li uses him to defeat his brother and leave the throne of the Jade Empire open before revealing he trained his student with a flaw in his fighting style so Sun Li could exploit it and kill him, before claiming the throne. Taking over, Sun Li plans to conquer all he can, repeatedly showing himself worthy of the title "Glorious Strategist".
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Sun Li crosses it for the player when he kills them and reveals that he was using them as a pawn the entire time, and then crosses it for Dawn Star, his own daughter, during the final battle when he coldly brushes off her attempts to reason with him and smugly declare that she was "just another tool".
    • Emperor Sun Hai crosses it when it is revealed that he was knowingly responsible for everything the Lotus Assassins did.
    • Gao the Lesser crosses the line from "arrogant and petulant" after murdering junior student Si Pat for impeding his kidnapping of Dawn Star and leaving his body burning in the street. Everyone in town is horrified and/or enraged by this act.
    • As a child, Captain Sen pushed a young boy into a river and let him drown rather than save him and let anyone know his part in the incident.
    • In the eyes of Dawn Star (unless Closed Fist romanced), Silk Fox (unless Closed Fist romanced), Sky (unless Closed Fist romanced), and Henpecked Hou (always), you cross the Moral Event Horizon if you bind the Water Dragon's power to yourself instead of killing her and releasing her from the machine.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Sir Roderick Ponce von Fontlebottom the Magnificent Bastard only appears in one sidequest but stands out due to being a Mighty Whitey caricature and can give you the most powerful weapon in the game, he was significant enough to get his own slide in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
  • Spiritual Licensee: Jade Empire is not a straight rip-off of Bridge of Birds, but it is certainly heavily inspired by its concept and takes several important character names (Master Li, Henpecked Hou) straight from the novel, although the characters themselves are different. Additionally, "Lu the Prodigy" seems much like Lu Yu, a.k.a. Number Ten Ox, and they share a plot point: a flooded city hiding a secret artifact.
  • That One Boss: When playing on Jade Master difficulty, most bosses will, at best, be bosses with stupidly-high health, but some will be like this. The Dirge clones are perhaps the platonic ideal. With normal difficulty, you can use the Jade Golem transformation style and/or focus mode to beat them relatively easily easily. However, with Jade Master difficulty all the enemies can take much more damage than in the normal mode, which means your magic and focus bars have probably run out before you've defeated even one of the three clones. The only way to defeat them without insane amounts of practice and very good reflexes is to exploit the weaknesses of the game's AI, and even then it's hardly easy. Compared to the clones, the final boss of the game is much easier to beat, even with Jade Master difficulty.
  • That One Level:
    • Rather late in the game you are killed, must navigate the afterlife and the defiled temple of the Water Dragon, and face one of the hardest battle in the game against three very tough copies of yourself and no support character, in order to be resurrected.
    • Dawn Star and Silk Fox needing to protect Kang from a horde of enemies while he places explosives can be rather difficult as the camera changes to something that's almost purely 2D. Movement is hindered, targeting is wonky, and some enemies just spawn right past you to attack Kang, who can't take many hits.
    • The Necropolis can be one due to wearing your character down throughout all the fights. It's a huge area full of the above mentioned Goddamn Bats of the Lost Spirits. And especially since most of the enemies are ghosts, anyone who specialized in weapons will be near helpless against the onslaught of ghosts attacking him.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The description of the philosophies behind Open Palm and Closed Fist given by Smiling Mountain at the beginning was an interesting new take on morality, with Open Palm being gentle and supportive while Closed Fist advocated for tough love and teaching people to support themselves. It had the potential to make the in-game morality meter less about what was being achieved, in both cases improving the life of the recipient, and more about the method in which it was accomplished. Unfortunately, the description given at the beginning is rarely representative of how it actually functions in game, almost always forgetting the complexities and nuances of the philosophies in favor of a good/bad karma meter.
  • Vaporware: BioWare stated in the past that a sequel was planned and apparently at one point was actually in development, though it vanished in the wake of the EA buyout and hasn't been heard from since. Concepts from it have found their way into Mass Effect and Dragon Age, however.


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