The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best" thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.
These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.
Without further ado…
Jade Empire: Special Edition
We tend to shy away from giving the game of the week nod to ports, but with the work Aspyr has done on bringing incredible, must-play titles to iOS, it seems totally appropriate to heap even more praise upon Jade Empire: Special Edition ($9.99). As far as Bioware RPG’s are concerned, I’d imagine most people have played, or at minimum, are aware of Knights of the Old Republic ($9.99). The port of Jade Empire feels a bit different because without the brand power of Star Wars, it really felt like Jade Empire was vastly under appreciated when it first launched back in 2005- despite receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews. Now days, Bioware has released so many incredible titles between the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series that it no longer really matters that you might not have heard of Jade Empire, because you know Bioware makes awesome stuff.
As mentioned in Shaun’s exhaustive review, Jade Empire has an epic story which unfolds as you play:
Jade Empire has you taking the role of the prized student of Master Li, a wise and powerful man who runs a training school just outside of a small countryside town. You’re limited to selecting one of several starter characters and cannot alter their appearance, since they appear in the game’s pre-rendered movie sequences. Not long after the game begins, trouble comes looking, kicking off your journey across the land. Along the way, you’ll meet new companions, learn new fighting styles, and even engage in a little vertical shoot-em-up mini-game. You’ll also learn your true destiny, learn the backstories of the interesting people you travel with, and if you play your cards right, you might even find love while you’re at it. As with most other Bioware RPGs, there’s a morality mechanic in play here that will determine how characters react to you and which ending you’ll receive. Theoretically, these two paths should be equally correct from a moral sense, but Bioware’s never been great at subtlety in this regard. So, you’ve got the light side in the form of the Way of the Open Palm, and the dark side in the form of the Way of the Closed Fist. Your actions, particularly in dialogue sequences, will determine which of the two your character follows, and certain techniques are exclusive to each path.
The quality of the port itself is great, with virtual controls that work reasonably well and full MFi support if you’ve rather play the game as it was originally designed with a physical controller. Additionally, there’s iCloud integration for game saves and Game Center achievements along with a bunch of graphical settings and tweaks which can be made independently to the difficulty of the mini-games and the combat. It’s hard to think of many things they could have done better or differently in translating the game over to touch devices.
Another reason it feels good to support Jade Empire on iOS is that if the game does well it stands to reason that Aspyr will continue porting Bioware games to the App Store. Even if you’re not super interested in the premise of Jade Empire, I still think it’s worth picking up just so when they go back to EA for other projects (*cough* Dragon Age *cough*) they can say, “Look how well both Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire have done, porting more games is a no-brainer.
Who knows if that’ll ever happen, but, hey, Jade Empire is a great game you should be playing and if it inadvertently helps other great Bioware games to make their way to the App Store? Well, that’s pretty rad.