If you enjoy RPGs, then Jade Empire is definitely a game for you! The graphics are gorgeous, the storyline is great, and the atmosphere is intricate and well developed.
First, the basics. You are a young martial arts student who is sent by your master on a quest, in a fictional Oriental land. As you move through this world, you encounter a wide variety of people and situations. The choices you make help to shape the world around you and your skill progression.
The graphics are simply *beautiful* to look at. Each area has its own look, and the details are just stunning. There have been other XBox games in the past that looked quite nice, but with Jade Empire I really think they've hit the top. We'll have to wait for the next XBox to see anything more lush than this.
The sounds show that same attention to detail. The voice actors are great, and the background sounds really shine. The soundtrack is well done, too. The developers poured a lot of energy into the sound atmosphere in which you explore, and it really shows.
Gameplay is very smooth and fun. You can balance three different aspects of your "health" - i.e. physical health, magic power and focus - through your choices in combat. There are a wide variety of styles, and certain enemies are resistant to certain styles of attacks.
There is a main plot line, and numerous side plots. Sure, if you have a walkthrough, you can zip through the game in only 15 or so hours. That's true for pretty much any game. The joy of an RPG is to take your time, explore, talk to people. It's the difference between fast-forwarding through a DVD to see the end, vs actually sitting back and enjoying the entire ride. Compared to how much money you pay for a 1.5 hr movie, you're getting an incredible bargain here!
I really consider this a must-have for any RPG fan. The graphics are gorgeous, gameplay is immersive, and I enjoy replaying it.
Highly recommended - 5/5
Buy Jade Empire from Amazon.com