Free game alert: BioWare's Jade Empire is the latest Origin On the House freebie

For real, this time

Jade Empire

Sure, you played Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age and Mass Effect...but did you play Jade Empire? Maybe? Probably not. Despite fairly positive reviews, it never seemed to catch on like BioWare's other RPGs.

But you can play it now, for free. After a weird stint earlier this month where the game went free for six hours and then disappeared again, Jade Empire is now officially Origin's new On The House title. Boot up Origin and you'll likely be prompted to download the game for free, after which it's yours to keep forever. Or you can head here to manually grab the game.

Jade Empire

So what is it? Well, it's basically BioWare's “lost” RPG. Originally released in 2005, the game is a lot like if you took Knights of the Old Republic and transposed it to Imperial China. Dialogue system, quest system, morality system (here represented as The Way of the Open Palm/Closed Fist)—there are obvious similarities. The one big change is the combat system, which takes place in real time and revolves around different forms of martial arts.

Actually the biggest drawback to Jade Empire is it doesn't last nearly long enough. The game is short, by BioWare standards—maybe 15-20 hours. But the world is great and for the price of free it's well worth picking up.

Grab it fast, though. Usually On The House deals stick around for six weeks or so, but this deal already disappeared once and I'm a bit paranoid that'll happen again.

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