White Knight Chronicles brings Japanese Role-Play Game action to the PS3.
White Knight Chronicles was released in Japan in 2008 and has finally made its way over here. Can this JRPG by Level 5 provide what others in this genre have failed to? Or will it just be another mediocre game that fails to inspire?
When starting the game, the player is given the opportunity to develop a character. There are a huge number of options for the characters looks to choose from, and the chance is there to make a very unique avatar for using in this game. Off to a good start?
Well, it would be a good start if your freshly created hero was actually the star of the show. For some reason, that is completely beyond me, your spanky new legend in the making seems to only play a supporting role in the game. The story really has nothing to do with them and the game even defaults away from your hero at the beginning, forcing you to physically change characters, should you wish to play with them.
The story is your standard fare of Kingdom in trouble, young hero tries to save the day and, of course, the princess. The hero of this story is the young wine traders apprentice, Leonard. The Kingdom of Balandor, of which he is a resident, is attacked by the forces of evil and it comes down to this simple apprentice to man up and save the Kingdom. During his journey, he comes across a giant suit of armour that he can use to perform devastating attacks, which is quite handy really as his apprenticeship had not covered Kingdom saving.
But his first quest is to collect the wine for the princess’ coming of age celebration. Everyone has to start somewhere. This mission provides the games tutorial, and will teach you the ways of White Knight Chronicles. Leaving the city to collect the wine from a small village seems simple enough, if it weren’t for the roaming monsters in the wild. Along with your budding sidekick, yes, I am referring to the character that you slaved over at the beginning, Leonard will be introduced to the games combat mechanics.
Combat in WKC all happens in realtime. Like a popular MMO, the player picks their target, moves into range and then will perform their chosen action. In the menu, the player can set up a group of actions that will appear in a bar at the bottom of the screen. Actions such as different skilled attacks and magic spells can all be placed into one of the limited slots, along with combos. These combos can be made up of a selection of actions and then assigned a slot of their own.
Whichever action is chosen, the player has to wait for the move to be ready. This can result in combat being slightly slow and ungainly.The action is chosen by simply selecting your choice and hitting the X button. Whilst the player is choosing actions and waiting for them to be carried out, the other members of the group will happily do their own thing. For the most part, they are quite competent, but don’t expect any heroics.
Combat certainly becomes more interesting with the inclusion of the Incorruptus, the giant suits of armour that certain characters can transform into. Although the available actions are far less, the attacks are truly devastating. However, the sad truth is that, with less actions to choose from, combat with these massive chunks of metal requires very little interaction from the player. Hitting the X button is the only requirement.
WKC looks a bit dated now. The backdrops and scenery are quite dull and look their age. The character models are certainly adequate, but are not especially memorable. The games visuals seem to have a lot in common with a lot of the free to play MMO’s that have been around for a while. The visuals are not the only thing that these games have in common.
The game interface seems cluttered. With the action bar across the bottom, the mini map on the left and the action timer on the right. Then there is the party status info on top right and the details of combat on top left. These are all overlaid onto the action and really don’t leave a lot of the screen clearly visible. To be honest, I don’t need to know that a random monster has failed to hit my hero.
This would not be too bad, were it not for the slightly dodgy camera. It seems to have a mind of its own and is constantly looking the wrong way. At one point I selected a monster to attack, only to realise that the camera was not right and I had selected a monster far off in the distance, leaving me vulnerable for a second. Whilst not game breaking, this is certainly irritating.
Multiplayer of sorts is also available. The games main story is strictly out of bounds, but gamers can team up to tackle the side quests, as they become available. The process, however, is not straight forward. Once the player has chosen to go multiplayer, they are required to negotiate with the other players for which mission to do. It is just cumbersome and far from straight forward.
With a sequel on its way, one can only hope that Level 5 can improve on the faults in this title. As it stands, White Knight Chronicles will join the other JRPGs of this generation that have come before. An average entry to the market with some obvious flaws, the game is playable and can be enjoyed, but it will not inspire the fervent following that could be found with the last generation of JRPGs.