Friday, May 29, 2009

Jade Empire: Combat Niggles

Jade Empire is a terrific game but there are a few things about the combat system that I wish were different:

1. Combat is a clickfest: Early in the game the fast paced combat is enjoyable but it gets old fairly quickly. Once you get over the initial learning curve you soon realise than targeting an enemy and clicking the same few skills over and over as fast as you can will get you through almost every battle in this game.

2. Missed Opportunity: Combat styles. The game has a large range of combat styles including weapons magic and unarmed combat. Choosing and upgrading your styles is a big part of character development. Sadly the promise of variety turns out to be an illusion and you end up falling back on a few tried and trusted combinations. Combat in the game is not sophisticated enough to benefit from the wide variety of skills.

3. Monster Immunity: Too many of the monsters in the game are 100% immune to certain styles of combat. Spirits are immune to weapons, Demons are immune to magic, Golems are immune to martial arts etc. Apart from the fact that this is very annoying it precludes you from specialising in any one combat area and forces you to take a blandly balanced approach to character development. I think it would be far better if creatures had only partial immunities.

4. Missed Opportunity: Henchmen. You collect an array of henchmen but they are all similar and all extremely underpowered. If you are struggling with a fight then changing to a differerent henchperson is not going to magically improve things.

5. Difficulty balancing: Instead of a gradual progression in difficulty as you work through the game most fights remain extremely easy (once you have mastered the basics) but one or two are ridiculously hard. The last few fights of the arena for example are way harder than anything that proceeds them. This is a recipe for someone quitting a game in frustration because they hit an obstacle they cannot pass.

6. Non regenerating health and energies: I mentioned this before and it continues to be an annoyance. If you haven't stumbled across the regeernation shrines on a map yet then you have no way to replenish your health and energy between fights which is very annoying. Once you do find the shrines you need to trek back to them after every fight to replenish which is also annoying.


Thallian said...

the difficulty balancing part sounds like Baten Kaitos, mostly easy but several sparsely planted incredibly hard boss fights and then the last level/area is just super hard.

mbp said...

To be fair to Jade Empire I should point out that the toughest fights I have encountered are optional to the main quest. There is nothing worse than being blocked from finishing a game by a fight that is just way off the normal difficulty curve.