E3 2013: Jet Li and living in the ‘Age of Wushu’

June 13, 2013 | 12:18 p.m.

At E3, a number of things catch your attention, but a video and a simple banner showing an ancient warrior who looks strikingly like actor Jet Li can draw any casual fighting-game fan over to the Snail Games booth for a look at “Age of Wushu”.

And as it turns out, the action-film star/former Wushu (which just means “martial arts” in Chinese) champion does in fact have a little something to do with the game.

“There is a character in the game that is Jet Li. He has a character name, then in parenthesis it says Jet Li next to it. I guess they really wanted to drive that point home, in case you did recognize him,” said Chris Toft, a lead QA producer for SnailUSA, the Chinese company’s stateside division.

“He is a character in the Twilight Village story. The Twilight Village story is a raid, which is also made as a walk-through for VIP people who purchase the VIP or the retail version of the game.”

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And, as Jet Li says in the promo above, “It’s amazing.” Authenticity is at the heart of “Age of Wushu,” a free multi-player role-playing game portraying martial arts and magic. It took five years to develop, and it went live in the U.S. on April 10, though there are already more than 30,000 users in China. The game is set in early 15th century Ming Dynasty China, and the player comes in and must choose to be in one of eight schools: Emei, Wudang, Shaolin, Beggar’s Sect, Scholars, Tangmen, Royal Guards or Wanderer’s Valley.

In the game, a player must take up a profession to survive and thrive. There are 17 life skills that can be learned — careers such as miner, calligrapher, beggar, poison maker and herbalist. The better you become at your job, the more points you earn. A player can do many things, but it still comes down to the fighting.

The game can be played from three viewpoints — a first-person POV, a mid-range view and an omnipresent overview. Visually, the game is a combination of animation  and photo realism (somewhere between “The Last of Us” and “Epic Mickey”). It’s the intricacy of the world, and the  different types of martial arts and lifestyles, that might be the game’s strongest asset. From riding horses and stagecoaches to having pets, getting married, taking part in faction wars, and buying land, it’s not a typical fighting game or even a typical MMO.


“This particular MMO seems like it’s the culmination of when people sit around and say ‘wouldn’t that be cool if … wouldn’t that be cool if’ … and they took every one of those ‘wouldn’t that be cool ifs’ and put them into one game, ’cause there are so many cool things to do in it,” Toft said.

But he has his favorite.

“I love the Shaolin monks, though, man,” he said. “The full quarter staff is probably one of the most devastating things in the game.”

Li, on of the stars of “The Expendables,” could have probably done much of the motion capture for his character, but a different Wushu master is in the spotlight in the demonstration below of how the movements for weapon fighting are captured.

— Jevon Phillips

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex



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