Home > Gaming, Playstation 3 > White Knight Chronicles – First Impressions Review

White Knight Chronicles – First Impressions Review

Let me start off by saying that I’m very glad to finally have an RPG on the Playstation 3.  It’s been a long time coming and thankfully White Knight Chronicles does not disappoint.  What we have here at its base is a JRPG combined with an MMO style and mixed into it is a potentially epic story in scale.

The first main draw of this game is the gameplay and all the elements that make it up.  You can really see the amount of work and detail that the developers put into creating and fleshing out this game.  Everything in this game is incredibly in depth.  Let’s look at some of the highlights.

First perhaps is the MMO style that is taken into account.  The very first thing you do in the game is make an avatar that exists in the game as an extension of yourself and is used when playing online with others.  You create everything about the character from the physical descriptions to the voice and facial expressions.  What separates this from other games is that your avatar isn’t turned into the main character.  Instead they are much more to the side and you support the main characters in their journey.  While your character may appear in cutscenes now and then, you are rarely addressed by any of the other characters so your avatar is much more casual.  This works really well because if your avatar was the main character, it would almost diminish the story to have a main character unable to speak or really do much.  You have silent main characters in other games, but I’ve always felt that you just can’t develop as powerful a story that way.

Another aspect taken from the MMO parts is that each character collects skill points as they level.  These skill points are spent in a number of possible trees such as divine magic, spears, axes, bows, and the like.  Each weapon tree has focuses as well.  Spears, for example, offer stat/ability boosts like defense/hp up/shield abilities.  This allows you to really create a well customized character out of anyone in the party.  There is a skill cap though so you have to be cautious of your limits and don’t spread yourself out too much.

Equipment in the game actually shows up on your characters.  This is very very welcome.  When you get a new piece of equipment it will display not just on your avatar, but on the story characters as well.  The armor is all incredibly well detailed and fits perfectly well in the setting of the game.

The towns feel huge in scale and full of life.  All the NPC’s have developed paths and scripts that they followed so that it feels like the people in the town really live there as opposed to just being static objects.

There is an MMO portion of the game, but it’s not like a traditional MMO.  Instead it takes into account a type of matchmaking system.  Throughout the game you will unlock quests to be done in areas that you’ve traveled through before.  These quests can be soloed, but that proves difficult unless you’re at least double the level recommended for the quest.  Even then it can be difficult if you don’t have a well developed character.  You can, however, choose to do the quest via multiplayer.  At that point your avatar will be matched up with other avatars that are attempting to do the same quest.  From there you can work together fairly well as a team to accomplish the objectives together.

Combat is done in a party where you really only control one person at a time.  The AI can be commanded into action which can mean they might do a combo, or if you’re low on health will cast a heal spell.  The AI in the game is actually really competent and I have never found myself lacking for a heal.  The only thing I would add to the AI is the ability to tell them specific things like “cast your AoE” or “Use this specific spell/buff/debuff.”  Your character has a list of abilities that they can fill their three action bars with.  You can even create combo macros that use multiple abilities and only take up one slot on your action bar.  Most actions cost action chips (AC), MP, or both.  AC can be collected by being attacked or attacking with abilities that don’t consume AC.  The stronger the ability, the more AC you are likely to use up.  Combos are where you use up most of your AC because you’re stringing, let’s say 3 attacks at 1 AC each for a total of 3AC to do the combo.  Using your abilities is based off a visual timer that’s global for all your abilities and based on the weapon you have equipped.  Basically you’ll be able to attack more frequently with a small one hand weapon over a large two hand one.  This timer also mandates how long till you can cast spells, so a caster would favor a one hand weapon for casting speed or a staff for casting power.  If there’s one thing that might put people off from the game, it’s the MMO style combat.  It’s not extremely fast paced, and lacks some of the finesse and tactics you can create with turn based battle systems.  The lack of specific control over your AI may be a downer to some as well.

One of the more interesting features of the game is the concept of developing a hometown.  Throughout the game you will have a hometown that you build from the ground up using materials found/purchased through the game.  You will set up houses, buildings for jobs, and the like.  You can then go out into the world and recruit people from the towns you visit in the game and they will move to your town.  Each person recruited has their own profession and can give your town various benefits.  For example, if you have some miners living in your town you will find more ore and metals in your home town general store.  If you add extra buildings to support the miners jobs like ore deposits, you might get free items from the miners who have surplus.  You can even take your hometown online and let others visit it to see what it’s like.  There really is a lot more depth to this concept, but it would simply take too long to go into detail.

The story in the game is a very refreshing change of pace I feel, but others may strongly disagree.  The story here is very simple at first.  You have your basic hometown nobody.  He meets the princess who he had met once as kids.  The city gets attacked, princess is taken, you chase after the princess using a magic giant robot/suit of armor.  While it may seem simple on the surface, there is a lot of potential here.  Without giving away too many details, we get setups for a great fantasy story of politics, war, love, nobility, ancient magic/weapons, and strong characters mixed throughout.  Some may feel this is generic, or it’s been done too many times before.  To that I ask “when was the last time?”  If there’s one thing that’s been common in JRPG’s lately it’s plots/stories/themes that are so abstract that it proves to be a chore to follow.  A lot of “fantasy” rpg’s lately develop stories about character who are too busy being sad/emo (Lost Odyssey [still one of my fave RPG in spite]), plots that make no sense unless you have a degree in psychology (Kingdom Hearts [the self is the nobody of the heartless spirit of the world? wth?]), or just simply introduce elements that come straight out of philosophy classes on death, the soul, and the meaning of existence (Eternal Sonata).  The characters in this are all active and working towards a physical and meaningful goal.  Is it simple? Yes.  Is it boring? IT HAS A GIANT ROBOT KNIGHT!


There’s still a few problems with the game currently.  The first and foremost is that everything in the game costs so much time/money/resources.  This includes equipment so expensive that you will generally find yourself only being able to afford to upgrade one character at a time between towns.  You eventually unlock binding stations that let you craft weapons with materials that you gather throughout the world, but even that’s ridiculously resource intensive.  It costs you money to craft the weapon, generally the resources you need are really rare and you may have to buy them, you never craft weapons from scratch and instead have to craft using weapons you already have, those weapons must also have been upgraded using expensive items that are also rare, and on top of all that you have to have a certain rank with the shop that does the crafting and the only way to increase that rank is to give the shop items/equipment for free.  If you end up wanting to develop your town as well, it also proves to be an incredibly costly endeavor.

The second issue is perhaps that it’s really time consuming for the sake of just being time consuming.  Towns are massive in scale, and while that really helps bring the world to life, it proves to take forever to get from one end to the other.  The same can be said about the fields between towns.  One issue is that some monsters in the field take almost five minutes to defeat.  It’s a bit frustrating because they aren’t difficult to defeat at all and you know you’re going to beat them no problem.  It’s just that they have so much HP that you have to gradually wittle them down bit by bit till they fall.  Enemies also respawn after a certain amount of time has passed, this is good for those who want to just grind, but often times you’ll be forced to backtrack only to have to re-fight everything when you’re just trying to get to a save point to stop playing for a moment.

All in all this is still a really good start to what will end up being a great year for RPGs.

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