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White Knight Chronicles PS3 Review

28/04/2010 Thinking Story Gamer Review
Guest author: Jon Seddon
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White Knight Chronicles PS3

White Knight Chronicles




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White Knight Chronicles PS3 has a complex and well told story and although it's lavish in places and has many hidden depths, the dull, repetitive combat of the single player story may put players off long before they access the charms of the online multiplayer campaigns.

White Knight Chronicles is the first major Japanese RPG that I've played, one of those embarrassing revelations that would be revealed at a Geeks Anonymous meeting. Whether a lack of prior experience gives me a fresh perspective on the genre or disqualifies me from having an opinion is something I'll leave up to the reader to decide, but I was certainly eager to finally dive into the world of turn based combat and buffs and debuffs.

The International Edition of White Knight Chronicles, feels like two games on one disc, with a single player story of about 30 hours which has very little crossover with the 50 additional quests of the multiplayer game.

White Knight Chronicles tells the story of a boy called Leonard who is recruited to rescue a princess after he accidentally stumbles on a suit of armour. This transforms him into the gigantic White Knight from the title and gives him additional powers. However you plays as a mere delivery boy caught up in Leonard's mad quest, and who largely provides support for the games main characters. Since you can control any of the characters directly at any time, this distance from the central heroics isn't that big a deal.

Whilst the of boy-seeks-princess story is cliched, it's told with the high degree of drama and polish expected of a JRPG, except for some awful voice acting, with loud sighs from the female characters in every scene that I found slightly cringe worthy.

Whilst the of boy-seeks-princess story is cliched, it's told with a high degree of drama and polish.

What starts out as a straightforward rescue mission is quickly complicated by the underlying history of the land, which is full of epic battles between giant knights and fantastical creatures.

Regardless of plot complications, White Knight Chronicles is stubbornly linear, which isn't a problem, but I'm more used to being endlessly diverted collecting twelve magic scales from the Doom fish of Lake Bonzibar.

Given that the story is both well told and more interesting than it first appears it's a shame then that the main meat of the game is full of dull and at times seemingly endless battles against poorly animated creatures. As well as lacking realistic movement, the creature designers obviously had a very limited menagerie to choose from as I saw the same monsters over and over again.

This made me dread my journeys between places, which would consist of half an hour of killing 30 spiders and 20 scorpions. It also makes the game extremely difficult to sell as a spectator's sport, given how long it is between the interesting bits, which eventually led me to sneaking in a few hours alone to avoid aggravating my sofa buddies.

Battles in White Knight Chronicles appear to take place in real time, but this is an illusion since you have to wait for the action wheel to fill before you can press X. You can 'programme' combos, , inflicting massive damage, but these use rationed Action Chips, so you will mostly rely on weaker attacks. This then extends each battle for longer than is interesting.

Given that the story is both well told and more interesting than it first appears it's a shame then that the main meat of the game is full of dull battles against poorly animated creatures.

Another major RPG element that White Knight Chronicles fails to get right is item collection. The world is full of objects to find, but on their own they are not at all interesting. Items are used for crafting, which is a way to create new weapons, armour and potions.

The list of collectibles that can be combined is almost endless, which makes the experience frustrating since you never seem to have the combination of shrivelled root and mini firestone that's required. You can also just buy weapons and accessories in the town shops and, as money is never in short supply, this provides a strong incentive to abandon crafting altogether.

Only with the end of the single player story mode can you really take part in the multiplayer quests, as they have high level recommendations. Accessing these four-player levels provides something of a new beginning for the game, as suddenly the depth of the combat system becomes worthwhile with each party member taking a standard RPG role.

My character was built as a tank so I soaked up the damage allowing the spell casters to stay safe and pour on the ranged hurt. Most quests I've played are your typical fetch affair so you'll be seeking rare flowers in dungeons, but the undemanding game play gives you a chance to just chat and play with your friends.

White Knight Chronicles has many elements, making it a very deep experience, but you don't need to ever really get to grips with it in order to finish the relatively challenge free single player campaign.

As my first proper JRPG White Knight Chronicles was a good game to start with, as it looks like a modern game but clings onto many genre conventions. However, despite the fact that the story is good and the online multiplayer is worth experiencing it's hard to recommend, given how uninspired the main portions of game play are.

I wanted to like it, but ultimately games should be fun and this one put too many conditions on my fun to be truly rewarding.

Guest author: Jon Seddon.

Guest review by Jon Seddon

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Jon Seddon wrote this Story Gamer article under the watchful eye of Mark Clapham.

"I love a good story. Games tell many different stories: the stories told through cut scenes and dialogue, but also the stories that emerge through gameplay, the stories players make for themselves."

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