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Jade Dynasty review

Jade Dynasty Review

 Genre: Fantasy MMORPG

 Publisher: Perfect World

 Free to play

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I’ve been generally unimpressed by Asian influenced MMOs of late. Instead of examining culture and what makes up Japan and China (the two countries developers generally mean when they say their game has an “Asian influence”), we instead get a game made up of kung-fu fighting tigers in which everybody lives in a pagoda. It’s difficult to measure what “everybody knows” about the mythology of those countries, and the facts behind it, I appreciate that, but it’d be nice to see something a little more true to life. Back in December last year, I played through Perfect World, a decent game that I thought did what it did well but failed to add anything new to the genre. Today we take a look at another game from the same developer, and another game that it’s fair to say has an Asian influence: Jade Dynasty.

This week: no complaints about installation

Not to be confused with Bioware’s underrated Xbox exclusive Jade Empire (I’ve made the mistake more than once), Jade Dynasty opens quite beautifully, both in terms of getting the game on the system and in terms of loading screens and the like. The developers give the choice to either download via their website or via torrent, I vied for the latter and found that all 3GBs of data were quickly downloaded. Installation took seconds and there wasn’t a great deal of updates to perform. I could probably have played the game within the hour of starting the download and, as anybody who downloads any amount of MMOs will tell you, that’s something of a rarity, even on a super-fast internet connection. Getting into the game is a pleasure as well, not usually something so noteworthy; a beautiful background image topped by a calming masterpiece of a score.

Jade Dynasty character creation Jade Dynasty review

Creating a character

Perhaps it’s just that I’ve played a lot of average MMOs lately, perhaps it’s that not enough developers feel it necessary to create a world not immediately about battle and fighting. I’m not sure, but I went into character creation expecting quite a lot from Jade Dynasty. I was immediately disappointed. With two races to choose from and 6 different classes per race, you’d expect quite a lot of character choice. Not really the case. You get 11 hairstyles; none which you’d ever choose to have in real life for fear of being blown away in a particularly violent gust of wind, and 11 faces with which to create your perfect character. It goes without saying that it is not nearly enough and, to make matters that much more laughable, there’s a randomize button at the bottom: hardly a necessity with so little to choose from.

Jade Dynasty review

Graphics and Sound

Like Perfect World, Jade Dynasty does quite a lot graphically without the need to have an overly powerful system. As you can see in the screenshots, colours are rich, trees and foliage look pretty good and nothing looks out of place or silly. On top of that, I’d say that character design is pretty good, with NPCs generally looking different from one another. On top of that, I really like the enemy design. Sure, it contradicts what I said earlier about not going for the most obvious Asian references, but that doesn’t stop me loving what they’ve gone for in their design choices. Similarly, sound is again very gentle but decidedly Asian, in many ways it reminds me of the Shenmue soundtrack. Again, I really like it and the graphics and sound alone make the early parts of Jade Dynasty a joy to play.

Jade Dynasty review

Going on an Adventure

The first person you talk to in Jade Dynasty tells you that you’re too weak to receive proper training and that you should go and speak to a guard who will give you proper training. The guard tells you to attack five training dummies, which you do, and then he asks for you to deliver a love letter asking a girl to marry him. Upon accepting the request, the girl wonders if her father will approve, and you must go and ask his permission. In order to get his blessing, you need to prove that the guard could provide for his wife, even if he dies, and you’re sent on a quest to kill five wolves and five boars and bring back their skins to prove that the guard could provide a dowry. That, for people suddenly confused, is the first four missions described in full. Sounds entertaining, huh?

For all intents and purposes, Jade Dynasty isn’t anything special. You must speak to a certain person to get a quest and then talk to somebody else to complete that quest. Sometimes you’ll be allowed to explore new places or, if you’re lucky, kill some monsters, but it all gets fairly repetitive very quickly. And of course, you need to do the quests or risk being killed by higher level monsters as you progress, so exploring at your own pace isn’t really an option. This leads to quest fatigue more readily than perhaps the developers would have liked and, considering how nice the rest of the game is, it’s disappointing to be put into a position where you have no incentive to continue playing. Add to this the fact that the quests are, on the whole, boring as hell, you’re left with a title that isn’t really worth playing: if you have better things to do there’s no way you’ll ever see the end.

Jade Dynasty review


This is perhaps why I played for quite a long time without seeing more than a few people on my travels. There are NPC characters everywhere in towns, perhaps more than the average MMO, but that’s not enough to give the sense of population that we’ve seen in recent weeks in what I’d say are less entertaining games, things like Eudemons and Cabal. As a result, the world of Jade Dynasty is a wide open, lonely place with little to fill it except for mainly static (but quite nice looking) monsters to kill and people happy to send you on meaningless quests. It certainly didn’t feel as charming as Perfect World did, although the right ingredients are there, and that leads to the question “why aren’t I playing something else?” I’m not saying less servers (and therefore denser population) would solve all the problems in Jade Dynasty, but it would certainly take the edge off. If it was a single player game, we wouldn’t play it and, without people around you, it feels like a single player game.

Jade Dynasty Review

To sum up my Jade Dynasty review, I can say that the game has a lot going for it: it’s pretty without hogging system resources, it has a nice setting and interesting design, but all of that is let down by the generic “been-there-done-that” feel of the whole thing. If you played Perfect World or, for that matter, any Asian influenced MMO, you’ll have seen almost everything Jade Dynasty has to offer and, really, that’s more than enough to keep you from wanting to even download, let alone play at length. If you want an easy-to-install title to run on a low-end PC, this might be the one for you.

Otherwise, I’d steer clear: there are better ways of spending your time.

©  2012
M. Growcott

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