Level-5 has developed many JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Games) titles over the years; namely the very popular Dragon Quest series and more recently Rogue Galaxy. Now the developer has tried its hand at the HD era of console gaming with its latest PS3-exclusive title White Knight Chronicles. Having played the game it’s fair for me to say that this game is just as good, if not better than its previous RPG outings.
One of the major highlights for this game is that it tries to shy away from the time consuming turn-based battle system of yesteryear into a more free-flowing combat structure that gives you more control during fights. There are no random battles here, nor are you transported into a separate battle screen. Even inputting commands is seamless owing to a bar that pops up at the bottom of your screen where you can choose your next attack.
Capitalising on this system where you’re not tied down is the ability to choose how you want your characters to play and level up. Whereas in other RPG games you’re forced to have a character that specialises in magic or another character specialising in defence, White Knight Chronicles doesn’t force this upon you. All your characters can be strong swordsmen if you so choose, which I personally thought was fun as it made the battles much easier for me. Having said this, in the latter part of the game it is a good idea to vary your characters once the baddies become more difficult.
The story starts off as your usual JRPG game. You’re introduced to a character by the name of Leonard who works at the local wine cellar. He’s about to supply wine for the Princess of Balandor’s 18th birthday. However, disaster strikes when a dark organisation known as the Magi kidnaps the Princess and kills the King. Then it’s up to Leonard and his pals to save the day. However, Leonard has access to an ancient power which enables him to turn into an empowering White Knight.
This is when the story starts to kick off, and you realise there are four more sets of knight armour littered throughout the game and it is up to you to try to stop the Magi from obtaining all of them. Transforming into the White Knight is arguably the best thing about this game. Not only is it awe-inspiring to witness the transformation, but it made boss battles a lot easier. The White Knight can slice his enemies with ease with only a few jabs of his huge sword.
There are a few hiccups that prevent this game from being a masterpiece. The overall design in the game lacked originality and style. The main character, Leonard, is yet another pansy teenager; while the princess is the typical damsel in distress. I commend Square Enix’s decision to make Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII a tough female role model. As for the towns and levels, you could almost swear they have been ripped straight out of Final Fantasy XII.
Graphically the game is comparable to the aforementioned Final Fantasy XII as well. That’s not to say this game resembles a 3-year-old PS2 game, but with the visual standard we come to expect from this HD era of gaming,
White Knight Chronicles could have done much better. Although the colour palettes used are bright and vibrant, it’s the detail and overall realism of the graphics that seem to be lacking. White Knight Chronicles may not be perfect, but it is still an enjoyable RPG game. It was one of the few RPG titles I’ve played where I did not get too frustrated or completely lost. If you have a general interest in JRPG games, then don’t hesitate to give this game a try.