White Knight Chronicles International Edition Review
White Knight Chronicles is the latest RPG from one of the most renowned studio in Japan, Level 5. Level 5 is famous for many hit RPGs such as Dark Cloud, Dragon Quest VIII, and even the portable Professor Layton series. White Knight Chronicles is a massive RPG released in 2008 in Japan; can the game retain the same appeal that it once had when western gamers first gazed at the original trailer?
White Knight Chronicles begins when Leonard, who works for Balandor Winery, is on an assignment to deliver wine to the castle for the young princess’ birthday celebration. Unfortunately, when Leonard gets to the castle, the kingdom is attacked by a mysterious group disguised as a circus, calling themselves the Magi. Leonard helps the princess escape through the castle’s catacombs, discovering an ancient white knight armor in the process. Despite gaining control of the armor, Leonard tragically fails to protect the princess and becomes kidnapped. Like most RPGs, Leonard and his band of unlikely heroes must save the princess and kingdom. If gamers are looking for an original story, they will not find it in White Knight Chronicles.
While the story centers on Leonard, gamers will have the chance to create their own characters who accompany Leonard on his quest. Players can then switch between Leonard, their custom character or any other party member during combat, making for quite a fun experience as players get to try out different characters rather than be confined to the same one throughout.
Battling giant enemies in the open fields
Some of the environments are gorgeous, despite generally consisting of deserts, plains, and other environments commonly seen in other games. In one level, you may have plenty of trees and rocks; in another, these landmarks will be replaced by cacti and shrubs in the exact same positions. Every other environment is practically a palette swap of the previous; however, this doesn't change the fact that the environments are still beautifully detailed. The environments truly have their own set of pros and cons.
While the environments may not be unique, the music in this game is a different story. The music is an orchestral score with a Celtic influence. This gives it a flare that makes it stand out from other RPGs. Sadly, the voice overs are far from exceptional. Characters' voices are simply too bland and stereotypical. Gamers have seen too many ambitious young heroes or shy heroines. Players may also get tired of the repetitive statements, including suggestions, that the characters make during exploration. In once instance, one of my party members continuously nagged for me to head to the market place until I actually got there. It was annoying to say the least, but not bad enough to make players snap the game disc in half.
Combat in White Knight Chronicles is an interesting blend between action and turn-based RPGs. When players come across an enemy, they can move freely and attack once the meter is full. Although there is free movement, the battle system retains the turn based nature of most RPGs. No matter where characters stand, they can not manually dodge attacks. This can be frustrating at times because the character may stand ten feet away from the enemy yet still end up being hit. As a result, combat boils down to mashing the attack button repeatedly. In order to break this mediocrity, players can create combos and set different attacks to their skill action meter, which is a customizable skill set. White Knight allows up to three sets of customizable action meters. The three sets are then interchangeable during battle. Most games restrict players to one skill set, which differentiates White Knight from the rest and grants far more freedom.
Um, where are we going?
Players can also don Leonard's White Knight. When using the White Knight, players may have a slight advantage against larger enemies or even bosses; however, the armor drains magic points (MP) with every attack. The stronger the attack, the more MP it drains. Gamers must keep track of their MP meter to ensure they don't revert back. Like characters, the armor itself can gain experience after every encounter and obtain new skills. The White Knight armor is an interesting and fun feature, even though it is somewhat cliché.
Trying to stand tall are we?
Gamers can play online with their custom characters using the game's GeoNet system. Similar to an MMO, gamers can use their avatars to complete quest with other players. The GeoRama system is also quite interesting. Through this, players can create virtual towns and multiplayer lobbies. They can also customize their hometown and show off what they have acquired throughout their single player experience. Players can also invite their friends to their custom town to prepare for different quests. GeoRama is one of the more appealing aspects to White Knight Chronicles - one that contributes the most to the replay value.
One of the biggest disappointments is the inability to edit a custom character out of the box. In order to do so, gamers must purchase five dollar tickets from the Playstation Network to reshape one’s avatar. Once players use this ticket, it will disappear and will have to buy another one if they wish to redesign their character again.
Bottom Line: Intended Audience Rating
Hardcore RPG fans will be sorely disappointed by this Level 5 entry. The combat is dull, the story bland, and the overall game mediocre. There really isn’t much here to keep gamers' attention, unlike other Level 5 titles. Once it hits the bargain bin, RPG fans may want to pick it up and try out White Knight's customizable skill sets and multiplayer options.
2 out of 5 Armors
Bottom Line: Overall Rating
White Knight Chronicles is a forgettable title; however, the game is relatively easy as far as RPGs are concerned, which will please most casual gamers. The online component is interesting, but it may not be enough to keep players interested in White Knight. White Knight Chronicles was once highly anticipated when the first images of the game were released; now that the game has finally reached American shores, the game has turned out to be relatively disappointing. We can only hope that the next Level 5 RPG will deliver what is expected of this highly recognizable studio.
2.5 out of 5 Armors
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