This week’s entry into the Gaming Backlog is a title that I fell in love with when I first saw its debut trailer out of the 2006 Tokyo Game Show, White Knight Chronicles for the Playstation 3. The trailer presented a fresh take on the fantasy RPG with anime inspired aesthetics, traditional presentation and an active timing based combat system. The trailer had incredible graphics, gorgeous vistas and some of the most immersive character animations I had ever seen.
The game hovered in hiatus for a lengthy period after Sony and Level 5 teetered the fence on releasing it in the states. When the game finally launched, it was a far cry from what was originally promised in the now obviously scripted trailer. Much like the initial Killzone 2 trailer, White Knight Chronicles used a CG sequence, built around the core fundamentals of the design of the game. Character model animations and interactions weren’t dynamic, camera angles that seemed to change based on input were typical third person free camera, and combat wasn’t close to being the active block and strike system presented from the get-go.
While it wasn’t the game I had hoped for, it was still a solid RPG with a good combat system behind it. Character build up was surprisingly open ended for a Japanese title where skills could be divided into a plethora of abilities for different weapons. And while the story seemed to be cut from the same tried and true cloth as the dozens of RPGs before it, White Knight Chronicles at least had a chatty group of characters that kept things interesting through long travels between cities.
In a surprising twist, you get to create a custom character that is hardly involved in the main story, but rather the right hand of the main character, Leonard. While Leonard gets all the glory and gets to transform into the giant White Knight, your silent character assists him throughout his travels, and typically takes all the good treasure for his/herself.
White Knight Chronicles touted a robust online community in which players could group up to form parties to take on on-line specific quests using their custom characters. This was a nice add-on as it gave players the freedom between being a lackey to Leonard and exploring dungeons and fields collecting loot. Combat has a MMO-style feel to it with certain character types taking on tanking and damage dealing roles, which becomes apparent in the emphasis of teamwork online.
I recently picked up the game again to explore deeper into the story mode. It is a challenging game and is definitely worth looking into if you’re into this genre, but it is hardly a game changer. I still pine for that original trailer, but what was provided was a solid template should White Knight Chronicles 2 reach the States. Maybe next time I’ll invest more into the online co-op…
…or use the crystal camera more.