White Knight Chronicles User Review
I didn't write a review for this game originally, and that's a terrible omission because this is a great game. However now we're into 2011, and many are awaiting the sequel, I thought it was time to revisit the game.
I went back to WKC because I felt that there was some unfinished business. Since finishing the initial play through, I felt that I had not got the trophies I wanted, plus the whole guild rank thing and GeoRama begged to be played more. Having done some research online I knew that there were special armor sets to be had for particular achievements and guild ranks. and so I embarked on a "New Game +".
Replaying the game through with the same avatar and party from before with all out equipment and skills makes the game insanely easy. However that's not the point of playing through again. You can watch the story segments again if you like, but more importantly there are new treasure chest to find and open that contain new armors and weapons that you can use at higher guild ranks (GR 7 and 8). You also have the opportunity to collect materials to perform binding, gain a higher binding rank and build GeoRama items. As you replay, and re-enable the quests, if you have been doing quests you will probably be nearing GR 7 by his time and lot's more quests are becoming available to you. This opens an entirely new chapter in the game.
A lot has been written about the game's graphics, they have been described as disappointing. After replaying and grinding through certain quests for nearly 250 hours in total now, I can definitely say I don't know what the hell people are talking about on that one. OK, the characters are a little stiff, sometimes, and there are better characters in other games. No one said that WKC has the best graphics. However, I don't understand the negative appraisal of the games visuals. The models for the characters are pretty good, and the avatar design system is very flexible. Monsters are well done as well, when you get close to them, they are just as detailed as they are at a distance, and although some monsters are slightly modified and re-colored versions of others, it's not a distraction, and they are still pretty well done.
The larger monsters in the game, the dragons, Trolls, Treants, Giant Spiders, Pyredaemos, Giants, Gigas, etc are all very well done. They have scale and gravitas and graphically are well executed, with good detail up close and from a distance.
Sound is very good, the music is pleasant and not annoying - like it can be in so many games. Voices are well done although on a second play through the random incidental dialog get's repetitive when you are grinding through a particular location for specific monster drops.
Game play is very nice too. It's not strictly a traditional turn based game, but it is a turn based game. You have a circular meter that fills to indicate when it's your turn. While you wait for your turn, you are free to move around the battle field and direct the NPCs. You can also shift from character to character if you want to individually direct their actions. For example, if you do not want to devote skill points to your avatar being a healer, you can include a healer in the group and switch to that character when needed. however if you give that character the default tactic to heal and support, you won't need to. Plus you can issue general orders to the others during battle. Things like attack my opponent, fall back, or attack as you see fit.
In addition to this you can construct the characters skill trees individually, creating a 2H sword specialist, or an Axe specialist, a bowman, a mage or a healer. This takes the pressure off your avatar allowing you to follow whatever path you wish. As the NPCs also gain levels they will become ever more flexible, and this allows you to target your avatar's abilities and master one or more skills.
Equipment is well done, and as you change your equipment your character changes in-game. If you remove the armor from your character, for example, they will run around in their shorts until you re-equip them. Armor, shields, weapons, accessories like cloaks and glasses all alter the character appearance, and with the exception of a very few cut scenes these changes are reflected in the in-game cut-scenes. Nice.
Combat is, as I said, turn based, you configure the characters skills and have 3 menus of commands you can use. You can create attack combos consisting of multiple attack moves to chain attacks together. These combos and some of the larger attacks will consume action chips. Action chips are gradually accumulated during battle. You use these Action chips to perform the more complex moves and combos. Properly done and with a completely leveled character, it's not unusual for a character to be able to deliver more than 1000 points of damage in a single combo attack. With certain weapons and skills you can have a character that is capable of delivering 4-500 points in a single attack move. So, there is a lot of flexibility in the system. You also have magic at your disposal with the usual combination of support, defense, attack and healing magic. You soon learn which attacks are worth having and which are not, even so it can be a bit difficult to decide on what skills to include in your actions menu.
So far so good. You play through the game, the story is good, and everything else is as I described. On it's own, this is a very good game. However where White Knight really shines is in the extended game play. I will separate that into three elements.
GeoRama, Quests/Guild Ranking and Reirth.
GeoRama is your own town. just like you have an avatar you play online with, you have a town to base your Avatar's party in. You build the town by making items for it using the dropped materials you've collected, and in-game money. Your town's populace is recruited in-game, and each resident has a profession and three attributes unique to that profession. You make homes for the residents and job items to enable them to do their job. Each job item also has stats on it for how much it contributes to each profession's attributes. The combination of residents and job items builds a georama score in each profession you have in your town. If you hit the maximum score (50) in each of the professions attributes you gain access to special armors that bonuses to STR, AGI, DEX, VIT, SPR or INT as well as having decent defense and magical resistance. These armors though are more for appearance, as each is more like a badge of honor for achieving the high level in each profession. The biggest reason to increase your georama scores is that you can buy better stuff at the general store in your town, based on the scores for each profession. If you're trying to bind higher level items, this can be very handy because some of the materials are available in the store. To gain the georama armor sets you will need to expand your town, so get to it, and don't forget to up your guild rank because that is a requirement for the last expansion you need to get there.
Quests/Guild Ranking. This is pure grinding. However you can team up with friends on-line to make it much, much less tedious. Even so, the rate of reward in higher level quests is simply not high enough, and you have to replay some quests numerous times to increase your guild ranking. The quests are well designed, but after guild rank 6 they become higher level versions of the quests you have already done. Guild Rank 7 is the absolute minimum guild rank needed. this gains you access to some nice armor and weapons, additional quests and the ability to expand your town to the size needed to gain the georama armor sets.
Rebirth. White Knight Chronicles has a level cap of 50. You gain 4 skill points so you have a limit of 200 points, it takes 90 skill points to master a single skill, and most players have spread their points too thinly to master more than one skill in the first play. So, why is there a trophy for mastering all the skills when you can't do it? Well, you can - through rebirthing. When you reach level 50, a special quest becomes available - assuming you have finished the game at least once and have played past Sinca village on the play through you are currently one. In this quest (pilgrimage) you return to Sinca village and an NPC called the Usher offers the ability to grant you extra levels and points - sort of. You rebirth. all your points are reset, and your equipment is removed. You return to level 35 from level 50. Sounds great right? It is, you still have your skill points and your equipment is still in your inventory. So, you haven't lost anything. However you only have 180 skill points and it appears you've lost something. but you haven't. You can level up to level 50 again, and when you do, now you'll have 240 skill points not 200. So, allocate your skill points carefully, master another skill, and get leveling. The quests become useful at this point and although it's a grind you can level quickly to restore your character to their former glory.
You can rebirth as many times as you like, but only the first 4 times have an effect on the number of skill points you can earn. You max out at level 50 after your 4th rebirth with 360 skill points total. If you haven't mastered all the skills yet, you can continue using rebirth, but will not gain any more skill points.
Right now, after nearly 250 hours of play, I'm Guild Rank 7, I have all but one of the georama armors and I'm nearly on my second rebirth. I have mastered three skills (they have a nice star to indicate they have been mastered). I'm no where near to platinuming the game though. The Platinum trophy requires dedication and a group of dedicated online WKC friends. One of the requirements of Platinum is achieving Guild Rank 15, you can solo this, but it takes endless grinding, and is much easier in a group because the harder and more high level quests - with far greater rewards - cannot be done solo.
But, platinum isn't my objective here. I just enjoy the game and wanted to achieve certain things in the game - such as the rebirthing. With WKC2, your avatar will continue to the new game, as will your guild ranking and georama. Many things carry over, so it's worth working on your avatar now in WKC.
This is an extended play review. The game is a great game, and merits better reviews than it got originally. In extended play the game really shines. the grinding here is not really any worse than it is in any other RPG. However the whole GeoRama element along with your avatar and online questing bring a whole new dimension to the game's replay value. I do think that there is a bit too much grinding required to achieve the Platinum in this game. One of the other achievements required is 10 million gold, this is no minor achievement in the game.Of all the things I'd like to see improve in WKC2, the level grinding is the top candidate for change. Clearly it shouldn't be too easy, but it was too hard with the original game. Well not hard, just really, really time consuming.
Time for the good, the bad and the ugly.
Good - the whole game, graphics, sound, gameplay, battle system, skills, avatar, GeoRama, Guild, binding,... Bad - level grinding. Ugly - Guild rank level grinding past GR8.
There is a great temptation to just wait for WKC2 to arrive. However I think that would be a shame, because WKC is worth your time if you like a good JRPG style adventure. Even though WKC2 will include the story from WKC1, having a clear save file (completed the first game once at least) on your HDD allows you to carry forward into WKC2 without re- playing the original story. Also, Much of your progress with your avatar transfers to WKC2, so you can get a head start on things now with the original game.
Even if you aren't looking at WKC2 as a purchase, if you like RPGs, this is a game worth your time and money.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.