By this point in time, you’ve got to know that I just love RPG’s, so of course I was excited to hear that Level 5’s White Knight Chronicles, originally released in Japan in 2008, was being released in the US as an international version. Sony Computer Entertainment of America was kind enough to give me an early copy of the game to review for you, and they even gave me this cool art book filled with tons of back-story and information about all aspects of the game. I didn’t know exactly what to expect going into this adventure, but I came out pleasantly surprised. It’s got a lot of features that hard-core RPG players are going to love, and it’s got some features that others likely aren’t going to love, so let’s not waste any more time, here’s White Knight Chronicles.
As with most RPG’s, the story is the most important part of the game. Unfortunately, with White Knight Chronicles, the story is for the most part pretty forgettable. Thousands of years ago there existed 2 kingdoms who struggled with constant war. The kingdom of Yshrenia created huge Knights, more powerful than any living creature to turn the tide of battle. The kingdom of Athwan responded with powerful magic and both countries ended up in a killing themselves off. Since then, the kingdoms of Balandor and Faria have arisen and have recently made peace. During the coming of age ceremony for Balandor’s princess, the kingdom is attacked by monsters and the princess is abducted.
Now, in the beginning, you create your own character, but this character is not the protagonist of the story, he’s just a side-kick and is used in the multiplayer portion of the game. For the most part, you’ll play as Leonard, who, in an attempt to prevent the princess from being captured, gains the ability to turn into one of the ancient White Knights. So the majority of the game is spent attempting to rescue the princess and in doing so you’ll gain several new party members and learn why she was captured in the first place and what the ancient Knights have to do with it all. The story really doesn’t start get interesting until the last scene of the game, and right when things are about to get good, the game ends. There will obviously be a sequel to the game, as to me, it reminded me of the ending of the first Lord of the Rings. Shit just went down and now it’s on like Donkey Kong. Then the credits roll.
White Knight Chronicles is a MASSIVE game. The single player campaign actually only took me 25 hours to complete, but there is an estimated 100 hours total in the game because in addition to the single player story, there are 50 side quests that can each take up to an hour or more. To play these quests, you use the character that you created in the beginning of the game. The quests themselves can be completed single player, but you need to be significantly higher level than what is recommended or you’ll get smoked, that is, unless you bring several online friends along with you. That’s right, this is where the real fun kicks in as you and several online friends battle and level up together while you complete these challenges. It’s important to note though that to gain access to all of the quests, you’re going to have to do a lot of grinding.
Upon beating the game, you’ll get the opportunity to start a new game with the same characters, gear and levels that you’d obtained with your first play through. This will allow your avatar to continue to level up and eventually learn every one of the hundreds of skills and spells in the game. This is a pretty hard-core RPG as you need to repair your gear over time, and constantly purchase, upgrade, enchant, and craft your gear, while the best gear is obtained from the multiplayer missions.
Initially I thought the game-play mechanics were awkward. Everything just felt really really slow. Level 5 did something unique here and combined real-time and turn-based combat mechanics to give you something truly unique, but it’s not something that every gamer is going to enjoy. While you have the ability to run around the battlefield and choose your targets in real time, you have to wait several seconds between each attack and you only control one character at a time. Once you start to gain some new skills and spells things get a little better, but to me, it just always felt really slow. To top it off, you’ll often have to fight huge monsters that if you don’t have enough action points to transform into one of your Knight forms, will take up to 6 minutes or so to defeat. They are simply time sinks, as they require no skill to defeat, just time. While I’m at it, the entire game is retardedly easy. The only enemy to give me a tough time was a boss in the middle of the game. Every other encounter is absolutely trivial.
Each of your parties characters can be tailored to do whatever you like. You gain skill points each time you level up that can be spent in various trees, allowing you to choose which characters will be melee fighters, and which will be ranged or casters. After learning your skills, you can create various load-outs to be used in combat so that you can quickly access them while you fight. You also have the ability to create great combos consisting of several moves. Seriously, a ton of time could be spent creating combos because there are lots of rules built in, and min/maxers are definitely going to have a field day here as they discover the best combos to build.
Finally, in addition to the campaign and multiplayer game-play aspects, you can also create your own town that can be used as a social hub for you and your friends, but more importantly, it will grant you access to some of the best resources in the game used for crafting. This is also a huge time sink as you are going to have to grind and play for many hours to receive enough money to upgrade the town all the way. You also get to choose the inhabitants of the town, and each one brings with them a different skill set. Min/maxers will also spend a lot of time here, maximizing the output of their resource hub.
The graphics in White Knight Chronicles are a little dated, but the art style is absolutely beautiful. Most of the time you’ll spend your time in lush gorgeous environments filled with plenty of detail. With that, you’ll never have any frame rate issues and very seldom do you run into clipping. Another great thing about the game is that all of the armor, weapons and accessories in the game are reflected on your characters, and also in the rendered cut-scenes. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but I just can’t stand when I’m playing an RPG and I get some new armor and my characters look exactly the same when they equip it.
Like most RPG’s, the soundtrack is wonderful and fully orchestrated, but more importantly, the voice acting is great and never annoying. There are a few characters that could probably get on your nerves if they hung around for more than an hour or so, but luckily you don’t have to deal with that. If you’d like more blazing HD game-play footage, head on over to my other channel, ZeitgeistOther.
Well there is no doubt that you get your moneys worth if you purchase White Knight Chronicles. With an estimated 100 hours of game-play, you’re certainly going to have a lot to do. The graphics are a little dated but still very pretty; the story is pretty forgettable and really leaves you hanging at the end, and the combat mechanics to me seemed very slow and often kind of boring if you don’t have enough action points to turn into one of the Knight forms. So it’s got its ups and downs as for the most part, the game was really enjoyable. If you’re a hard-core RPG fan, you’ll love this game, as it’s a min/maxers dream with hundreds of skills and spells to learn and plenty of gear to collect and combos to define, but if you aren’t a seasoned RPG veteran, I’d likely stay away from this title and pick up something a little less in-depth. Make sure to leave your questions and comments below.