Originally a Japanese release in 2008, White Knight Chronicles International Edition has finally come to grace the North American PlayStation 3. Following the story of Leonard, a young man who gains the power of an ancient weapon, players are taken on a journey to saving Balandor's princess from a cult that wishes to wield forgotten weaponry for dark purposes. More or less a standard plot for any JRPG, but Level-5 has added in a few twists of their own to make White Knight Chronicles a pretty enjoyable addition to any PlayStation 3 RPG fan's collection.
White Knight Chronicles begins as most standard games go, allowing the player to create their own character from a selection of customizable options. While the overall character-creator engine feels a bit lacking in some departments, there are a lot of options to choose from. From here, the game cuts into the main storyline which features Leonard as the protagonist. A strange choice to be sure, creating a character that doesn't feature as the main character doesn't make too much sense at first, however this is what makes White Knight Chronicles unique. The game is broken into two portions, a short offline play and a much more involved online play.
Offline, players follow the plot of the game, select a team of three characters to use and select one of these to control. Each character has their own points, which can be distributed into various talents broken into groups. Swords, staffs, elemental magic, and healing all have abilities and character upgrades that can be purchased with points that are gained each level. This allows players complete control over every single character, so they are left with a team that is completely customized by them. Time consuming, but unique.
Combat is done in an open world, and when combat is engaged there's nothing stopping more monsters from roaming over and assisting the enemy in battle. Once the player has chosen what abilities they would like, the next step is arranging what attacks to use. Players can hot-key attacks to be used singularly, or create their own custom combo's that are used at the expense of slots filled on a slot gauge. As players use abilities that aren't custom combo's they build up the gauge, which in-turn can lead to longer combo strings or alternatively, the summoning of the White Knight. The knight itself follows the exact same rules of combat as a normal player, with exception that the more slots built up before summoning, the stronger the knight summoned is.
Unfortunately while the combat offers a lot of options, it's hindered by its speed. All moves have an internal cool down, which combined with an open world free-form movement system gives the feeling of very sluggish combat. Bland and atypical characters combine with an extremely predictable plot to create a storyline that anyone could skip and be no worse off. As a result it's easy to be put off from the game.
The real treat of White Knight Chronicles lies in its multiplayer features, which are extremely easy to overlook as they focus completely around the custom, player-created character rather than Leonard. Players can undergo quests alone or online for new items and a higher guild rank, which continues to unlock better quests and equipment. Money made in-game can be used to create a unique town, which can be expanded with various homes and shops. These towns work as hubs for other players to join and meet, as these are the 'rooms' players enter to search for new quests.
Graphically the game isn't the most outstanding, with some noticeable bugs and pretty uninspiring character designs. There is however very little loading involved in the game, which is a nice bonus for the more impatient RPG fan. The game also features a pretty standard soundtrack, nothing that will really leave a mark but the songs never get too annoying. Additionally players can customize the music in their created towns, which is another nice bonus.
Overall White Knight Chronicles offers a very mediocre single player mode, and a very fun and creative multiplayer. Those who enjoy a very traditional and reasonably predictable RPG should be right at home with White Knight Chronicles, as well as finding themselves surprisingly satisfied with a very fun multiplayer experience. Bland characters and a predictable storyline don't hinder the overall package, but they certainly don't add to it either.