White Knight Chronicles II is a JRPG from developer Level 5, the company responsible for the likes of Dark Cloud, Dragon Quest 8, and the marvelous Rogue Galaxy. They are also responsible for the original White Knight Chronicles — a game which sounds much better on paper than when it is actually played.
So, White Knight Chronicles II should be a chance to correct all the mistakes and downfalls of the original, right? Sadly, it doesn’t.
Events kick off shortly after the first game. If you’ve never played the original, you can be somewhat eased in by the long-winded recap, after which, you’re sprung into battle as hero Leonard and his teammates, Yulie and Eldore, without so much as a whisper to the controls.
This proves frustrating, you are targeted by enemies, and my fumbling attempts to attack brought up the in-game chat menu. Once this is overcome, the RPG nature of “attack – wait – attack” becomes easier, although the combat system/menu seems awfully scattered.
Being a JRPG in vein of Final Fantasy, the cinematics should be top dollar, oozing with theatrical climaxes. White Knight Chronicles II is, unfortunately, without these traits. Blighted by clunky dialogue, wholly underwhelming writing and direction, and with bland and uninspiring characters, White Knight Chronicles II quickly becomes dire and stale. The world you travel is monotone and lacking in energy, resulting in easy battles between you and every single place you want to go—which isn’t far, as alternative routes are magically sealed off. Magically as in huge blue walls that won’t disappear until you’re allowed to pass.
Battles are a sluggish and long affair in which you assign nearly identical skills to three hotbars and click on them to activate them once a timing circle has built up. It doesn’t feel at all strategic, and as the enemies are sparsely varied, you never have to be.
What should be White Knight Chronicles II’s most fun battle feature, is the ability to change into a giant knight, which you can do as often as you like – albeit with a brief cooldown to regain power between uses. But even this element is hampered by the clumsy unskippable animation sequence that prefaces every time you transform into your knight; which is a shame, as it could have been a fun addition the boring battles.
You are able to create your own character, he accompanies your team, and you are able to switch to play as said avatar. However, the creation tends to look much more out of place than any of the characters you encounter of your journey. Your chosen creation carries over all your experience and items to the game’s multiplayer, which allows you to field parties of six characters and take on quests, along with the fun Georama mode which lets you build your own towns.
White Knight Chronicles II does come packed with the original White Knight Chronicles (a slightly more polished version), so you are effectively getting two 20+ hours’ long games for one, with online co-op features. So, there is value in the title, it’s just a shame that the games themselves are uninspiring and lack the emotion that other JRPG/RPG’s carry so well.
Overall, White Knight Chronicles II isn’t a game I would recommend to anyone over other (better) JRPGs, but for value for money alone, I award White Knight Chronicles II two stars.
White Knight Chronicles II is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence.