White Knight Chronicles - Single Player - Review (PS3)
White Knight Chronicles finally comes to the western shores after a just over a year of waiting and while it isn’t Level-5’s best game to date, nor an essential Role-Playing Game that PS3 owners must own, it’s still a very good game from the company known for their epic RPG's.
Okay so the game isn’t too difficult, since it can be completed in 30-40 hours – even with treasure hunting and grinding diversions – just by using one attack, while the AI is in charge with healing attacks. And if a boss proves too tough to deal with normally, you can just White Knight it to death.
Also, the characters aren’t really that special. True, they aren’t annoying (unless you have the ‘Live Talk’ feature which means you’ll be subjected to repeated and redundant observations, with even the funny ones like “thank you Eldore-pedia” becoming irritating after they’ve be said dozens of times) and they do get some decent cutscenes, with the best being the bar fight in Albana. But they also won’t be hitting the RPG hall of fame anytime soon. Still, at least the villains – especially Belcitane and the Gigas monsters he brings with him - and the Knights are interesting. You may also get a kick out of Cisna's inability to NOT get kidnapped.
As for your Avatar - which is basically your own character who accompanies the heroes in their adventure, as well as acharacter you take on online quests, It’s pretty entertaining creating one and not that complex, though making your character not look a little feminine is tricky. Of course, one shouldn’t really spend so much time on creating the perfect looking avatar unless you plan on going online for a long time. While it’s great that you can create a representative of yourself or someone you imagine a kickass hero/heroine would look like, the novelty wears out an hour or so after you started your game. See, your character doesn’t have any pre-recorded lines or much emotion, so he/she just stands there saying nothing, doing little or not looking expressive when recent developments occur. It’s like your stalking the party looking for attention but can’t help but be socially awkward. It’s not huge fault, but some will wish it could’ve been fixed with some generic lines recorded by one male and female voice. Hopefully future installments will see your Avatar become more involved.
Another negative for WKC is the AI. It may be helpful in saving your ass from time to time, don’t think it will be very tactical, since it will randomly use any offensive magic attack you’ve set on its palette menu – regardless if it’s weak or strong against it – and you can forget about it using positive or negative status magic. Still, it dosen't make the game any difficult (aside from some close calls) but you do wish your counterparts didn't act so basic.
Still, for all its faults, it is still an entertaining game. For starters, the story is very well executed and pretty engaging. Also, the star (and main gimmick) of the game, the White Knights, are just pure awesomeness. They generally have the best scenes and are fun to control, though the camera angle does become a bit awkward.
One aspect of WKC is that it's a game that rewards players for sticking with in the long run; completing the game will give you access to new game+ which puts new treasure chests in certain areas which contain powerful gear. However, you can only wear some of the gear if your Guild Rank is high enough (level 8 to try them all on).
The menus also offer depth, from the nifty way it allows you to create your character in MMO fashion; do you make a character into a balanced offensive and defensive type of fighter, concentrate on damage dealing melee or magic skills or be responsible for healing and buffing your party while inflicting negatives statuses on enemies, which in turn lends itself to making giving you many options to tweak your avatar. There’s even a reward for those who reach level 50, in that you can “reincarnate” yourself back to level 35, with 40 skill points to spend, furthering even more customisation.
Lastly, there’s the Georama building which is another aspects of the game that will need patience. It’s easy to upgrade your town for the first couple of levels and is a good timewaster for a few hours. But later development costs are hefty, which means only the most persevering will be able to exploit its full potential.
So overall, how does the game measure up as Sony’s first epic RPG? The casual RPG fan who’s only plays this genre for the story might find it entertaining while it lasts but unsatisfying and a bit of the chore thanks to having to micromanage you and the AI’s skills. But the hardcore players will relish this, as well as the guild missions and Georama building.
It’s not a RPG tour-de-force and it has its faults, but it’s a fine PS3 title in its own right.
Rating – 7/10
Review of the online aspect of the game coming soon.