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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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  • Anticlimax Boss: The final boss is inexplicably vulnerable to stun attacks. You can easily take them out with minimal preparation.
  • Complete Monster:
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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.
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Aishi the Mournful Blade, despite sharing her character model with other female bandis and only appearing on one side-quest, is well received due to her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Fair for Its Day: The LGBT representation in this game is lackluster compared to Bioware's later games. note  But during the time Jade Empire was published, onscreen intimacy for same sex couples was still considered taboo and was a result of Executive Meddling.
  • Game-Breaker: Mirabelle: a gun in a setting with swords and fists. It's somewhat balanced by the large amount of focus and the time needed to load after each shot (both 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 and other one-on-one duels due to the fact that 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.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: PCs with integrated Intel graphics cards crash in the Level Up screen.
  • 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.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The only way to learn the Tempest fighting style is to lean on the Closed fist philosophy. Years later, come Avatar: The Last Airbender and air is strongly associated with pacifism and non-violence.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Henpecked Hou. He's a Butt-Monkey whose entire character was Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male played for laughs, yet he himself comes off as a massive sociopath when he nonchalantly mentions that he accidentally poisoned the entire family of his wife's uncle to death in an attempt to kill his wife.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sun Li, the "Glorious Strategist", once 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 moniker for which he is known.
  • 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 declares 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. It doesn't hurt he's voiced by the inestimable John Cleese.
  • 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.note  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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