Why it could have been great: White Knight Chronicles

Level 5′s epic but underwhelming PS3 role-playing game could have rocked our worlds. Edwin investigates the game’s undelivered promise.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, February 5, 2010

But as with the intriguing but ultimately bland create-a-character feature, the sight of those towering heaps of segmented metal smashing sparks from each other contains the germ of something marvelous. One immediate point of comparison is God of War and its cacophonous integration of major and minor theatres of war, as thousand-feet-high Olympian monstrosities reach spectacularly out of the backdrop to tip the scales in the foreground.

This is apples to oranges, to an extent. God of War is an action game. White Knight Chronicles is an RPG with action elements. But it’s worth thinking about what Level 5 might have achieved if they’d taken a few cues from Sony Santa Monica’s scaling, layered scenario design.

If he had a horse we could have called him Knight Rider and name-checked a lot of 1980s celebrities.

If he had a horse we could have called him Knight Rider and name-checked a lot of 1980s celebrities.

When something huge throws its weight around in God of War, the state of play changes drastically – you might be plunged into a sequence of context sensitive actions, or asked to divide your resources between smaller, faster enemies and the main attraction. When Leonard becomes the White Knight, the only difference is that larger numbers appear when you punch something. It’s a criminal misuse of what could have been a very compelling feature.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario for you. Leonard and his comrades must cross a colossal granite bridge above a mighty lava lake. Soldiers throng the bridge’s parapets, and a couple of fire golems wade through the brimstone below.

As the party begin the assault, the golems start tearing chunks out of the bridge supports. Play accordingly splits: Leonard, mushrooming swiftly to Knight proportions, must leap over the side and prevent the golems from toppling the bridge while the others fight their way through. The player can switch between the Knight and the other characters at will, as per the shifting tides of battle.

The unkindest cut.

The unkindest cut.

In this imaginary set piece, the Knight is more than an overclocked cinematic add-on. His size isn’t just a trick of the eye masking a higher defence value – it enables a distinct set of gameplay variables, adding a fresh layer of engagement for the player.

White Knight Chronicles: International Edition is due out on 26th February. Let us know what you like and dislike about the game in the comments thread.

4 Responses to “Why it could have been great: White Knight Chronicles”

  1. forevercloud3000 says:

    Im starting to think everyone who played this game paid little to no attention to the battle tutorials and story. Yes, its true the story is on the generic side, but its not exactly horendous either which is in itself a win with the horrid stories some JRPGs have(SO3, cough).

    The battle system is also not as weak as most reviewers and onlookers make it seem. Why doees no one bring up the fact you can litterally form combos to execute on the fly? I can even name the moves I make, further personalizing my characters.

    And you say that you are forced to go down the pallette list and select “Change Target” but you can just press L2 or R2 to scroll through targets. Enemies have weaknesses to Certain Elements as well as attack types that the game forces you to discover on your own. It is very MMO like, except that it does what many MMO players wish other games did and gives you something to do while your waiting for a Party.

    And as far as the Knight goes, he rocks. Yes, he is a trump card, end all be all ass kicking giant. Yet you also are limited to how much MP u have seeing as every action costs you MP points with the Knight. If you dont time your transformations right you will get decimated. Take the situation for instance where 3 giants were around me and I destroyed them with the Knight. Then I ran a little further and ran into some kind of demon hound and was out of AC and got crushed.

  2. Edwin says:

    Hey cloud, great comment. I did enjoy the combo system, though after a while you realise that every weapon class has more or less the same unlockable abilities – thrusts, lifts, debuffs, stances, etc – so everything gets a bit samey. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a battle while playing Knight in around 20 hours of game time. It got a bit ridiculous during one of the boss fights, the one where the three demon beast things combine into a three-headed dog – I was leathering six shades of sherbet out of all and sundry, but then a cut scene popped up and made it look as if I was losing. MP for the Knight isn’t that hard to come by – just drop a potion or two. You’re right about target changing though – I’d completely missed the shoulder button thing. Will update the article. :)

  3. LocoPuyo says:

    Is this for PS2?

  4. FC says:

    Amen, Cloud. The online portion of this game is fantastic.


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