Well here it finally is, White Knight Chronicles. Since being announced in 2006, this game has gained a lot of steam. Expectations couldn't be higher, so the main question would be... Does it deliver? In a way it does.
The basic premise for the game, is that you are a wine errand boy who just happens to stumble upon this awesome power, that then takes you to the stretches of the world. You are tasked with saving a princess and well, to be honest, if have played one JRPG, then you have played them all. Voice acting is mediocre at best, but let's face it, every JRPG in existence would sound pretty terrible if it was voiced. So without spoiling anything, I personally got into the story and knew what to expect.
WKC plays out the battles in a very MMO manner. Meaning you will run up to the enemy and wait for your action gauge to fill up to act. The biggest draw to the battle would be the sheer amount of skills to apply. With each weapon class (Axe, Sword, Big-ass Sword, Bow, etc..) there are 50 skills that you can learn and use for that specific weapon. Now not all the skills are attacks mind you; some will raise your hp, strength, agility and so on. The real beauty of learning these skills is that you can mold and craft your very own combos with them. You select from a list of your skills and as long as you have the available AC, then you can combo away. AC means action chips; just picture these as skill points you must spend to use certain skills. Your AC refills overtime, and you can replenish it via items if you wish.
I have read many reviews slamming it for its easy difficulty. And they are right, while it's not the complete opposite of Demon's Souls. If you and all your party members learn the Heal skill right off the bat, then you will have nothing to worry about. The main story could last anywhere from 30-40 hours, depending how much grinding and exploring you like to do. You will constantly get new items and components to upgrade your items, or apply to your Georama. Now, the Georama is a complete and total world within itself. Picture a flat landscape where you are given the tools to build a city from scratch. Throughout the game you are given the option to recruit certain characters to live in your Georama, and provide resources to you or visiting players. Yes I said "visiting." Your Georama stretches online, and other players can stop by and purchase various things from your stores, or harvest some materials. Your Georama acts as this virtual lobby where you can have up to 12 players in it, and can sync up and start quests from there.
Which now brings me to the online paradise Lv5 has crafted. You sign on to something known as Geonet, and you have your own friend list (weirdly separate from your PSN friends...), your own mailbox, and various little touches like message board forums, adventure logs, and homepages. It's really like a world in itself, and reminded me of Playonline account from SE, except it's free. The online play meshes together perfectly and you can do any of the 50 quests with up to 4 other players. You have the option to do them solo, but unlike the main questline, you will become a stain on the floor....trust me. With both the main story quest and online, I see no reason you cannot squeeze at least 100 hours out of it, and it even has New Game+.
WKC delivers a mixed bag in terms of graphics. While some things look lush and vivid (like the water!), other things like the character models can sometimes look like more time could have been done detailing them. Overall, if you are a fan of Lv5, you know what to expect in terms of art style and creature design. So many enemies look menacing, and tower stories above you. And when transformed into the Knight, your characters look like ants and really bring the battles to an epic scale.
Voice acting aside, the effects are good. I love the music and it has not begun to irritate me; I would say the sound is pretty solid and sometimes still hum the tunes in my head long after my console is off.
Well, with a mixed bag, I can say I truly appreciate WKC for what it is. A JRPG that feels like an MMO, but keeps you entangled in it's intoxicating gameplay to have to check the clock to make sure you get some of your daily tasks done. The ending was an uber cliff hanger, but what do you expect from the first entry in a trilogy? If you can appreciate a wealth of content, and a very customizable battle system, then you will love WKC. It's not the greatest RPG known to man, but it will satisfy your troll slaying lust.