White Knight Chronicles II Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
I usually get whisked away in the fantastically deep worlds built up by RPGs. They’re the perfect form of escapism, but what happens when the world built up is just a weak and generic shell of world? White Knight Chronicles II is a game developed by Level-5 and published by D3 Publisher in North America exclusively for the PlayStation 3. It’s a typical JRPG in terms of story. Have you ever played one? If you have, you might want to skip out on this sequel.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the story is bad or poorly carried out, because technically it’s not. If I had never read a fantasy novel, or played a game with a fantasy setting, or seen anything even remotely fictional, I would have thought that the story behind White Knight Chronicles II was pretty cool. I would have been impressed by the unnecessarily complicated names, and thought to myself, “That’s quirky and fun.” The problem however, is that I have lived this world before – and experienced better.
The story continues from the first White Knight Chronicles, following the adventures of Leonard and the legendary White Knight as they try to stop the forces of evil. He is followed by a bunch of people who help him complete his quest – people I didn’t care to get to know. Unfortunately, the storyline in White Knight Chronicles II does not do much to improve upon its predecessor; in fact, I would go as far as saying that it was boring. The characters were underdeveloped and there was nothing particularly dynamic about their world; basically, they were all just moving pixels on a screen. The game could have been much more interesting if something as simple as character creation had been a more prominently featured aspect of the game.
In White Knight Chronicles II, you can create your own character that joins Leonard’s group of generic warriors, but the problem with this is that no one seems to care. The game focuses so heavily on Leonard that your character is just furniture in the background. You have no special abilities or any other incentive to be used in the game, which makes the character customization process feel pointless. This was probably the first game that I have hated a character of my own making. If my guy had played a larger role in the story, and had a bigger impact on the world, I might have been more engaged in the story, but alas this wasn’t the case. You can also switch between using the story characters or your own creation. Yet, my character, “Bob”, was never used, and I just let him die. Poor Bob never stood a chance. Unfortunately, this is just the surface – the mechanics of the game are just as infuriating and uninteresting.
The combat is action-based as opposed to turn-based. You can walk around and attack enemies, and once you’ve recharged you may attack again. There are no random battles –which is refreshing – but I consequently found myself often avoiding enemies rather than engaging them. The combat system revolves around a list of attacks that appear at the bottom of the screen; you are supposed to be able to select which one to use with the D-pad. However, it quickly becomes obvious that you will not be able to simultaneously move your character while selecting an attack, because to do both would require two left thumbs. Sadly, I do not have this mutation, and thus was incredibly frustrated and angry with the game. You essentially have to stand still in the middle of a battle with explosions left, right, and centre, and choose your attack. Some people may say that this adds a level of strategy to the game, but from my experience it actually takes away from the flow of battle.
Turn-based RPGs give you time to think and plan action; RPGs, however, should be fast and intuitive. This current system used by Level-5 is not only slow and cumbersome, but when attacks finally do come out they look lame and uninspired. So much more could have been done, and I hope Level-5 improves upon the battle system if White Knight Chronicles III ever rears its hideous head.
There is a ray of sunshine in this doom and gloom: Although the game suffers in many ways, the graphics are fantastic! The models look super clean and smooth, and the scenery is impressive. As I was running away from enemies that I should have been slaughtering, I had quite a bit of time to explore the level of detail in the environments, and I enjoyed what I saw. I also took some time to admire my character – the customization is deep, allowing you to make just about any character you want (it’s just a shame that it won’t matter once you’re done). That’s about it. Hey, I didn’t say there was much sunshine.
White Knight Chronicles II is not a terrible game by any stretch of the imagination; I mean to say it’s not broken, so it won’t randomly freeze or crash on you. If you’re into JRPGs you may potentially enjoy this game a lot – it certainly hits all the beats. However, it becomes problematic if you’re looking for something a little deeper with a fun combat system; this is when I would say that White Knight Chronicles II might not be the game for you. It really depends on who you are and what kind of experience you’re looking for in your game. Me and Bob? Well, we’re going to search for a new game – one that’ll appreciate us.
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