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White Knight Chronicles II Review (PS3) - PAGE 1Heath Flor - Friday, September 30th, 2011 Like (1) Share
Every once in a while reviewers get a game we know is going to create a stir one way or the other. White Knight Chronicles II is one of those games because there's really no gray area -- you either love it or you hate it. This can make for some strong arguments from both sides of the table, and it can be difficult to discover middle ground both groups can agree on. However, after playing nearly 70 hours of WKC II, I feel pretty confident I have discovered the golden brick road.
Fans of the original White Knight Chronicles are going to eat this game up, while people who didn't enjoy it will choke WKC II down with a grimace. Why? Because it's the same damn game! You have the same characters, the same locations, and the same mediocre voice acting. In fact, WKC II is so similar you find yourself traveling back in time to revisit plot points from the original game. It's as if the developer (Level-5) was having a roundtable discussion about what to do next and decided to utilize all of the cut content from the first WKC, which they proceeded to do after giving each other high-fives.
Let's Start Over
At the beginning of the game you have the option to start from White Knight Chronicles or jump directly into White Knight Chronicles II. You have the option to upload data from a previous save file from White Knight Chronicles, here. Unfortunately very little transfers over into the new game such as your original avatar, your money, and your possessions. If you grinded your ass off in the original game to reach level 80, you'll likely be pissed off to find your level capped at 35 when jumping into WKC II -- there is no way around this restriction.
You can also create a new avatar and start over if you desire, which is what I did. The avatar creator is tremendously deep, and you can lose track of time trying to fine tune him/her to your desires. It really is a shame that your avatar doesn't get used much, only appearing now and then as background filler during the story while the main focus remains on Leonard and various other support characters. Such is the way of the voiceless avatar.
After a nice-looking introduction (and horrible intro song), you'll find yourself in Leonard's airship with each character waiting for their stat points to be assigned. You will spend the better part of an hour assigning the points as appropriate and setting up your attack actions and combos. Take your time and set them up right the first time, and you won't have too much trouble through out the rest of the game. A few tweaks here and there as your abilities improve, and you'll be good-to-go without having to do a complete revamp of your actions.
The Action Continues
Typical of most action RPGs, you have several major components to consider in combat. You've got the action gauge that has to fill up before you can perform an action, the MP meter for magic use, HP for measuring health, and "Action Chips" for transforming into an Incorruptus form and advanced attacks. Everything found in the game is pretty common, and a typical RPG fan won't have any issues coming in. This is a good thing, as there is no tutorial to be had when you jump straight into WKC II.
The battles have changed, making them more fluid than before. Moving around the enemy will help you to target weak points, and more unique skills come into play, giving you an upper hand in battle. Attack strength will also depend on your distance from the enemy, though the enemy can nail you from half way across the map.
There are still frustrating moments to be found while in battle. For instance, none of the AI will attack without your permission. To activate this, you must target an enemy and proceed to attack before your AI will spring to life. Do not walk away with your characters standing there unless you're in a safe position, or you will come back to find your party being mauled by monsters and no one healing anyone.
You can select various tactics for your AI such as focusing on healing, going all out with damage, or conserving magic and action points prior to battle. During the battle you can use R1 to open up a directives menu, which lets you command your AI on the fly to attack specific targets, spread out, fall back, or resume their assigned tactics. What you can't do is substitute party members with fresh people during battle. It irks me a bit when I can't access characters who are supposedly in my party, but are invisible when it comes to the battles. What do these guys do, run every time they see an enemy? The lesson here is to set your party up carefully before any main battles.
Your party will regen their HP and MP naturally, which helps to alleviate the dependency on chemicals and potions to keep you going. A neat little trick I learned while playing is using the "Pray" emote boosts your regen stats, so use it often when taking a rest.
Beyond the main storyline, you will find a multitude of quests, errands, and bounty missions to embark on, which will reward you with various rare items, cash, and guild points. It's well worth your while to step back and knock some of these out every time you enter a town. Not only will your party gain the items and money rewards, but you will also gain the experience points. This helps throughout the game, as I never had the need to stop and grind for five levels before continuing on in the story.
In order to access any online content you must use the voucher included with the game. Anyone who picks this up used will have to purchase an online pass before they can access the "Geonet" -- the online portion of the game that houses your very own "Georama," a virtual property for you to develop and turn into a living, breathing town. The key features of the town include creating item and weapon stalls for your townsmen to inhabit and craft special equipment for you.
You can recruit up to 20 individuals from the single-player game to inhabit your town. Each NPC comes with a requirement for recruitment; some require a certain Georama level, while others may require rare items before joining your town. Recruitable NPCs are easy to spot due to the speech bubble above their heads being orange in color.
White Knight Chronicles II really shines in the online mode as you can also join in on quests with up to five other players, adding a little bit of an MMO feel to the game, while allowing you to exit when you've had your fill. You'll also have message boards for staying in contact with other players, as well as an internal mail system.
What I found really exciting though is the ability to enter other towns and make purchases, and interact with NPCs as well as other players visiting the town. There are some really nice towns uploaded on the Geonet, offering some high quality material and equipment. The only downside to the online play has to be signing the end user agreement every time you sign on. Is it truly necessary to read through a few pages of mumbo jumbo every single time I sign on?
What Did I Miss?
White Knight Chronicles II offers well over 100 hours of gameplay. Between the main story, the extra quests, and the online gameplay it's difficult to beat WKC II in terms of content. Each chapter can easily take 10+ hours to complete, especially if you are an explorer by nature. If you're a trophy hunter, you will no shortage of those either.
The huge bonus of having White Knight Chronicles II is the inclusion of the remastered original White Knight Chronicles. Unfortunately the trophy set only covers WKC II. I once read an article claiming it was due to Sony enforcing games to have only one platinum trophy per disc. Considering the fact HD collection remakes have their own platinum trophies for each game on the disc I have a hard time seeing this as true. Just be forewarned, you won't be able to earn any trophies from the original game while playing this version.
One other thing I'd like to point out is while this may be in a lot of ways a generic RPG (same old landscapes, same music, same worthless NPCs found in towns), Level-5 implemented plenty of additional content due to fan feedback stemming from the original title. Not only did they introduce better gameplay and battle features, but they also have included the ability to create and utilize an Incorruptus for your avatar. It's a pain to accomplish, as they didn't make it easy at all, but the satisfaction of seeing your avatar being able to utilize the power is a touch which leaves me with a sense of finality and purpose.
There's no doubt White Knight Chronicles II is an overblown DLC pack for the original game. Characters, environments, and even certain plot points are recycled without a care in the world. Despite that fact, I still found myself drawn to the game. Even during long treks through the desert and grueling mazes where I cursed the developers up and down for creating such stereotypical levels, I still dove into creating my own unstoppable combos and hunting down rare pieces of equipment to boost my stats.
In the end White Knight Chronicles II is a matter of taste. It will grow on you like a fine wine or scotch, but you have to give it the time to do so. Level-5 still hasn't quite nailed the perfect RPG formula, but they have shown they are willing to listen to their fans, and we can only hope they're back at the drawing board with a new story and new characters being developed to take us on a different set of adventures utilizing what they've learned from the missteps of the White Knight Chronicles franchise.
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