White Knight Chronicles II Review

White Knight Chronicles II

White Knight Chronicles II

Giant, mythical, fighting machines, a princess to rescue from a tyrannical empire, and a team of rag-tag adventurers rushing to an impossible battle. No, it’s not Star Wars. This time, it’s White Knight Chronicles II. The game has a simplistic story, dull combat, and is a mess online. Still, it’s rich in color and character, and is enjoyable to play. One of the best things the developers did was allow players to play the first game as well, packaging it on the same disc and even allowing gamers to import the save file from the original.

Starting with White Knight Chronicles in February of 2010, Level-5 introduced gamers to Leonard, a wine merchant’s assistant who quickly finds himself in the middle of an invasion on his home of Balandor. In the chaos, Leonard takes refuge beneath the castle with the princess and finds the White Knight, an ancient weapon of unbelievable power. With no other choice, he takes command of the weapon to save the day. Unfortunately, it seems to have been in vain, as the princess is captured by the evil General Draigas anyway, in the hopes of reviving the other five knights. So begins the quest of Leonard and company to rescue the fair princess from these dire circumstances.

White Knight Chronicles II takes place immediately after the first game. Faria, a rival kingdom of Balandor, is in the midst of civil war and in danger of being taken over by a blood-thirsty dictator. Players assume control of Scardigne, a powerful general whose task is to protect the former leader’s granddaughter, Miu. After a quick chase, Leonard and his merry band of adventurers intervene in the hopes of finding an ally in Father Yggdra, the giant tree in the middle of the Fairan Empire. It doesn’t take long for the crew to get back to their old ways; literally in fact. Through a book called The Retrospecticon, they find themselves sent back through time to change or alter events to their advantage. As the story continues, players learn the true purpose and origins of the Knights and finish the fight they began in the first game.

White Knight Chronicles II

The game does its best to catch players up on the previous story with a recap that seems to fall just a bit short; playing the first game is pretty much a must. Players who don’t want to be fussed with that, however, can begin at level 35 as if they’d beaten the first game. This, of course, leads to a lot of confusion. Those unfamiliar with the game are simply thrust into a “learn as you go” scenario with only a help menu to guide them along. For those planning to pick up this game, start with the first one. It will make the experience much, much easier and far less confusing.

The battle system in White Knight Chronicles II is roughly the same as in the first: overly complicated. Skills are broken down mostly by weapon, with healing and attack spells filling the last slots. This customization allows for tactics not unlike playing an MMO. There can be a tank, a healer and a damager for one boss while the next boss may require pure muscle. In theory this is good but the reality is a confusing mess. The immediate urge is to stick to the character that the player controls in the main world since it’s rather difficult to switch on the fly anyway. The battles are often too chaotic to make changes and the controls are a bit too touchy. Each character has three bars where players can place commands, combos, and spells, and it’s navigating between them that makes this battle system fall apart. Scrolling between the bars is imprecise, leaving the player open while they try to figure out where their cursor is and why they’re suddenly in the item menu. By limiting use of commands to one bar, it’s a bit easier to play, but the variety of enemies and the attacks required to beat them turns fighting into a simple, button mashing, waiting game.

White Knight Chronicles II

One thing can be said about White Knight Chronicles and its sequel is that the world is huge. From the first leveling zone to the cities under siege, there’s tons of walking and exploring to do. The enemies are in full view; no random battles here. It gets annoying, however, when a critter follows the party all the way through a zone, not allowing them to escape.  Entering into battles is a simple matter of looking at the enemy and pressing a button. Once the enemy is dead, players just continue to move along. Each zone has small, minor enemies with large, mini-boss type enemies dotted throughout. The vast majority of the time, players can remain in human form, but going into pact mode makes the battle drastically easier. There is a lot of grinding in this game, so players should be in for the long haul.

White Knight Chronicle II‘s online component is a bit of a mess. It feels like the developers were trying to create an MMORPG type of game with the guild quests and groups of four. Unfortunately, it simply doesn’t work very well. Many quests can either too easily be done solo or the reward isn’t worth the effort of logging on. Building the Georama can be fun for sim fans though. Players can even invite their friends into their towns but to build a respectable town requires vast amounts of grinding for materials and money.

White Knight Chronicles II

The visuals of the environment is the best part of the game. The environments are thoroughly saturated in vibrant colors and convey a sense of being rather insignificant in a big world. In particular, the forest around Faria at the beginning of the game is impressive, showing all seasons as the player traverses the trails on their way into the city. In the springtime section, the flowers are plentiful and bugs fly around, while the winter section is, predictably, covered in fresh snow and ice. The city designs aren’t far behind in quality. Each city has its own style, design, and layout and feels just as vast as the open plains. The only weak element is character design. They are lackluster and don’t particularly stand out. Half of the random civilians look more interesting than Leonard and his entourage. The player avatar especially is hard to look at. There’s very little animation in contrast to the scripted characters, making their presence stick out even more. Throughout the game, players can purchase and upgrade armor which is reflected on the characters very well. Each basic set has male and female styles available with only certain sets having restrictions. All in all, visually, White Knight Chronicles II is rather impressive.

The sound is another matter entirely. They’ve paid great attention to detail in certain parts that could definitely do without. The biggest annoyance is the armor sounds. Each step jingles the chainmail or rattles the plate and grates on the nerves after only a few feet. It’s very well done and sounds very realistic but it’s quite unnecessary. Another gripe is the voice-over quality. As any fan of anime can contest, english dubs rarely seem to do justice to the source material and the White Knight games are no exception. The biggest example was Eldore. The voice simply didn’t match the character and sounded more like an old man sitting in a recliner, sipping his last glass of scotch before bed. A saving grace is the game’s score, however. Scenes are brought to life with the robust sounds of an orchestra helping to immerse players in the experience. One hint to future players: turn off party chat. Hearing the whole group whine about moving too fast or too slow is rather annoying.

Players should do themselves a favor when picking up this game for the first time and take the time to go through both titles, in order. White Knight Chronicles II is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor though really feels like it shouldn’t have been broken up in the first place. The simple story is somewhat of a welcome retreat from all the complex, thought-provoking media available today and the impressive visuals are enough to make this a game worth playing.


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Author: Ben West View all posts by

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