Jade Empire Special Edition

The Baltimore Sun

2K Games

[PC] Rated M

Jade Empire was first released on the Xbox a few years ago. Now it has a new lease on life as a gussied-up Windows version.

The player guides a young warrior through an epic quest, making allies and enemies, fighting monsters and affecting those around him or her with frequent moral choices that skew toward a good or evil path. Combat is more action-oriented and simplistic than other BioWare RPGs, though the game offers a wide variety of fighting styles to choose from and combine.

The game is controlled smoothly with a keyboard and mouse, or a player can hook up a wired Xbox 360 controller or other game pad if desired. This Special Edition also includes some new monsters, fighting styles, a bonus art book, a poster and some other goodies.

The graphics have been fine-tuned and look much sharper than they did on the aging Xbox, but playing with all the bells and whistles reveals a nagging flaw.

Jade Empire uses recorded movie sequences that were originally made for the Xbox release. They're grainy and low-res compared with the in-game graphics, which can be quite jarring in transition.

Mortal Kombat II


[PlayStation 3] Rated M

Mortal Kombat II stormed arcades in 1993 with nearly double the characters of the bloody original, each of whom had two finishing moves that killed an opponent in an over-the-top spurt of blood and organs at the end of a match.

Kids loved it, while parents and politicians hated it. And it took a generation of teenage boys a long time to realize that the game wasn't nearly as good as its 2-D contemporaries, like Super Street Fighter II and King of Fighters. But even if it wasn't the best game in absolute terms, MKII was still fun and had a surplus of personality.

The graphics haven't held up well, and the violence seems cartoonish and quaint compared with modern games. But for $5 (available as a download from the PlayStation store), well, how many gamers didn't drop at least a Lincoln's worth of quarters into a Mortal Kombat II machine back in the day?

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