EA's Origin service is giving its users jade empire on the house for free for a limited time. The game was released in 2005 and was one of the first action RPGs from Bioware (before Dragon Age and Mass Effect).
The game follows a spirit monk on a quest to save his master from an evil emperor's madness, taking him across a world inspired by Chinese mythology. The player is guided through the story by completing quests and engaging in real-time combat that takes advantage of morality-based dialogue options.
Unlike the top-down isometric dungeon crawlers of Icewind Dales and Baldur's Gate, the game features a trivial item system and an overly simplified martial arts progression model. Characters can only equip a few gems of different colors, and the skill points that are invested in martial styles feel like they were balanced (or overbalanced) to work out well no matter how you distribute them. Similarly, the three conversational stats are far too similar to be truly compelling and don't feel as though they do any meaningful difference in how your character impacts the world.
In spite of these shortcomings, the game is a genuinely memorable adventure. The sweeping landscapes and detailed followers and companions help to create an immersive world, while the fast-paced battles and gripping narrative are sure to entertain fans of both action and RPGs. It's not the most exciting game of its kind, but it's still a great addition to any Origin library and will appeal to fans of the genre.