Don't forget that with Jade Empire, Bioware has already advanced their original engine beyond that which KoToR had, which was a step up from NWN.
This isn't as Core did with Tomb Raider (shudders as the words slip out). This is true advancement, in both graphics, and interface.
While I won't pretend to be an absolute guru on NWN technology, after reviewing the tech demos for each game and witnessing the screenshots (there are no tech demos) for KOTOR2, I have to say, Obsidian isn't about more raw talent, it's about BioWare having standards.
They know that producing a sequel in this industry is near suicide, and while they may be a solid company, their solidity is built off a quicksand community. If they changed the wrong feature in NWN for NWN 2, all of a sudden they lose thirty percent of their profits.
Their projections become muddied, and business fades.
Not only is it about business, but let's be honest, how much Dungeons and Dragons does a company have to put out before it's time to change gears?
Jade Empire is the kind of game a lot of people have wanted to see for a while.
Up until now we've had to contend with whatever Namco, Acclaim and most recently, Midway have been putting out, in terms of fighter RPGs.
Those game weren't even true RPGs.
Then again, in my opinion, neither were a lot of the 'rpg' games that we've seen in recent years.
Subsequent to all I've said, BioWare has made a smart business move in gearing for a new style. Anybody who has watched the movies I'm referring to (E3 demos and the like, available upon JE's site) can see that they're advancing. They're evolving the design.
While it's too soon to say whether they'll create a proper martial arts simulator within the RPG framework, I'm sure BioWare will create something worthy of their track record.
As far as Obsidian Entertainment goes, their graphics do in fact look dated, and while I don't agree with it looking 'eighties' (Fabio or no), I do think they're bastardizing the Star Wars universe in terms of content. Take a look at the listings for force powers. Already traditions do not apply. Something that irked me concerning NWN was that the gameplay could not accurately portray the true ruleset of v3... or v3.5
Then again, I agree with those among us that say, pencil and paper games do not belong on the computer, lest the ruleset be changed to make it more... fun.
Fallout was a classic example of this. A game that built its own ruleset which could allowed for infinite growth. Now THAT is a true role playing game. One where you are not limited to levels, but are allowed something as broad a scope as a skill set. That initself is a thousand fold more realistic then any level system. Last I checked, I don't advance levels as a person. I become stronger, I become more skilled, I adapt. That's how growth should occur in games who claim to be 'RPG's.