Friday, August 21, 2009

Jade Dynasty - A Review

Glenn recently discovered a new, free, MMORPG game to play called, Jade Dynasty, courtesy of the folks at Perfect World Entertainment. The romantic-sounding name alone intrigued me, so I watched over his shoulder while he played. The graphical elements caught my eye immediately: they are absolutely gorgeous, particularly the character selection screen and the loading screens.

I found gameplay easy to get into:
  • Tutorials abound; the game goes a long way in helping the player navigate the game and progress your levels.
  • The interface looks and works very similarly to World of Warcraft.
  • The storyline reads well; there are very, very few grammatical errors and it's at least mildly compelling if not completely original.
  • Knowing how, who, and where to pick up and turn in quests is very clearly delineated. Not without bugs, mind you, but even World of Warcraft has the occasional bugged quest and/or mob.
  • The game has pets - I have a 'Woody Pig' who blows bubbles out of his nose when he's sitting idly by. And one of his attacks when he's engaged in battle? He turns around and farts at the mob he's fighting. It's hilarious! So the game developers have a sense of humor. There are other pets, like a tree called a 'Dryadling' and a rock called 'Stonus Protector'.
  • You gain experience points while 'meditating', but only if you're in a major city. Meditating is the restive state that restores your health points ('HP') and spirit points ('SP'). It's a very small amount of XP, but believe me, it adds up after awhile. I gained a whole entire level in my 30's that way, over the course of one sleep period. It looks cool too: you pop a bubble around you and gaze deeply into what looks like a crystal ball. It's actually an orb of energy called your 'chi'.

For as great as those features are however, there is one major feature that sets Jade Dynasty apart from all the other MMORPGs that I've played: 'auto-routing' and 'Invigorate'. With auto-routing you click on a mob or NPC's name in your quest log (the name will be highlighted of course) and your toon automatically starts running toward the mob/NPC.

Invigorate, on the other hand, is truly the crème de la crème of gaming: you can set up your character to grind on it's own, like what most gamers know as a 'bot'. In Jade Dynasty it's built right into the gameplay! You set the parameters - which attacks go off at which time, etc. - and then with the click of a button your character does the rest. You can sit back and watch, go make dinner, go to sleep, whatever!

There are, necessarily, a few details about the game that make it less than user-friendly, but I did not find them to be off-putting. For example, the crafting, from what I hear, is a pain in the a**. I was encouraged not to pick it up, at least not in the early levels. Crafting is not impossible, but better to do if you plan to run solo. If you belong to a clan or alliance who has a member already crafting then there's no need, as it is burdensome. There also doesn't seem to be much else to do other than questing, crafting, and grinding. For example there are no instances or dungeons, that we've found anyway. The game does contain a PvP element, but I haven't tried it and I don't know too much about it.

The camera and movement controls are slightly different than World of Warcraft and City of Heroes/Villains, but didn't take me long to get accustomed to after a couple hours' worth of playtime.

Also, you will draw aggro from mobs rather randomly. For example, you'll run past mobs everywhere you go in the game not including the major cities. No matter what level they are you probably won't draw aggro from them, except for the random mob here and there. There's just no way to tell. Now if another player comes along and engages them they'll get off of you, but you likely won't have any problems with that aspect of the game.

One nifty feature of this game, if you're into this sort of thing: male and female characters can get married. Unfortunately, it does not provide for same-sex marriages that I've noticed. The quest text is pretty gender-specific. For example, the male character has to be the party leader and has to initiate the quests. But one very cool thing the characters can do: the male character can actually carry the female character in his arms!

Okay, gender inequality aside, that's just cool. Give these games a few years, I'm sure the political bent will come around eventually.

One last thought, and this can be taken as either a negative or a positive, depending on how you look at it: the way the company makes money off the game is by selling 'zen' for real-world dollars. The zen is converted into gold which you spend in the game. This is what compensates for the lack of monthly fee. It is certainly possible to play the game and enjoy all the features without ever spending a cent. But if you intend to reach the level cap of 150 you should plan on investing real money on some zen.

For this gamer, the positives of Jade Dynasty far outweigh the negatives. The game itself is so beautiful, the music mesmerizes me, I'm enjoying the storyline, and for the most part both the storyline and leveling progression make sense. It's not World of Warcraft; no way. But it is definitely a worthy alternative.


  1. I am Miyoshi on The Billows server. I play the Jadeon class. Sorry for the spill-over of the HD video, but it's worth it when you watch it. Yes, the video is taken from actual game-play, and yes it echoes WoW a LOT. The in-game music, different than what's in the video, is absolutely fabulous. Think WoW music with an Asian touch.

  2. Nice review. Of course there are certain aspects of the game that could be mentioned more, or more accurately, but it's just a review. It's definately enough to get me to want to try it...if i wasn't already playing it, but thats beside the point xD. But i won't go through and try to correct every detail that you may have been off on lol. again, nice review =)
    RhaZhinDar - DoomBog server