White Knight Chronicles
White Knight Chronicles' single-player yarn kicks off at a winery in the bustling capital city of Balindor, where white bread do-gooder Leonard has been tasked with delivering an assortment of spirits
- Extensive multiplayer component, in-depth character customisation
- Lacklustre single-player system, combat is a mixed bag
Even though it's hampered by a wonky combat system and lacklustre single player campaign, White Knight Chronicles is still an enjoyable experience with a surprisingly deep multiplayer component.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
White Knight Chronicles serves as a lighthearted and entertaining romp through a colourful medieval world, albeit one that never really breaks the archetypal JRPG mold.
White Knight Chronicles' single-player yarn kicks off at a winery in the bustling capital city of Balindor, where white bread do-gooder Leonard has been tasked with delivering an assortment of spirits to Princess Cisna's birthday party. In traditional RPG fashion, the princess is kidnapped by the mysterious Magi, setting off a chain of events that will see prophecies fulfilled, friendships tested, and the very fate of the world called into question. Tongue-in-cheek charming as often as it's eye-rollingly trite, White Knight's narrative is pretty thin for the most part, only occasionally breaking free of the various fantasy tropes it so often employs. Leonard's team of rag-tag adventurers are pretty one-note throughout, and by the time the 25-30 hour single-player campaign wraps up, players may walk away with more questions than answers.
Even with its lacklustre story spearheading the experience, White Knight still offers up some pretty intuitive gameplay by way of its vast character customisation options and in-depth synthesis system. Players can fine-tune their party's wide assortment of weapon-based abilities, offensive, and supporting spells through elaborate menu-driven skill trees, and met with the game's already impressive item, weapon, and armour synthesis aspect, White Knight really allows players to shape the bulk of their sword-swinging exploits however best suits their play style.
White Knight's combat, on the other hand, is a mixed bag; while the customisable Combo System can create some devastating and satisfying attacks vital to disarming the game's wealth of enormous enemies, I found myself spending way too much time whittling away at generic baddies' health bars, waiting for my attack bar to refresh, or collecting Action Chips in hopes of unleashing the titular White Knight. Even offline, White Knight's combat feels like an MMO, meaning plenty of downtime between attacks and a cluttered UI that can really add more frustration to the overall experience than necessary. While the occasional gargantuan boss fight or oversized enemy nicely spices things up, the grind of recycled, re-coloured enemies is far too frequent, and it really doesn't become challenging until far too late in the game.
Single-player squabbles aside, one of White Knight's biggest saving graces has to be the inclusion of GeoNet -- a PSN-centric social networking service and hub to White Knight's extensive online component. GeoNet allows players to bring their user-created avatars online for multiplayer co-operative questing in the vein of Phantasy Star Online or Monster Hunter, and when matched with the already impressive single-player character customisation and US-exclusive voice chat, creates some great opportunities for diverse player-based parties. There's a huge assortment of quests to choose from as well, but seeing as how many of them are threaded into later parts of White Knight's single player campaign, they might cause headaches for players who are just looking to dungeon crawl with their friends no strings attached.
GeoNet is also home to one of White Knight's most intriguing aspects in GeoRama -- user generated virtual communities and a vital part of the game's online experience. Integrated into GeoNet predominantly as multiplayer lobbies, GeoRamas serve as user-created "home towns" that players can generate from the ground up in the vein of an earlier Level-5 classic, Dark Cloud. Players can also recruit citizens to their home town during the game's single-player campaign, their GeoRama's stock changing depending on the class and rank of each worker. Of all of White Knight's features, I felt that GeoRama was the best implemented, creating unique opportunities for players who are willing to spend time both online and offline, and greatly extending the game's overall lifespan.
White Knight Chronicles is definitely hit-or-miss at times, and while it finds itself occasionally hampered by a stale single-player campaign and wonky combat system, the overall experience brings just enough fresh content and online innovations to the table to make it a worthwhile purchase for hardcore JRPG fans. White Knight may not be the trailblazing epic members of the JRPG community were hoping for, but for what it is -- a lighthearted, if flawed RPG adventure -- it works pretty well.
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