White Knight Chronicles: Origins PSP Review

July 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, PlayStation, PSP

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – Matrix Corps – Genre – Action RPG – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

It’s funny how a lot of game series’ never seem to start at the, well, start. But, when you fall in love with the universe of a series, you’ll want to return to it time and time again, and prequels just love to expand on the back story – schooling you on events from the past and making the universe feel larger because of it.

White Knight Chronicles: Origins, as the title suggests, pulls you back 10,000 years into the past. The games takes place in a period known as the Dogma Wars, in which the Yshrenian Empire are harnessing the power of the Knights in an attempt to make the world their own, and the Athwani Mage Kingdom are forced to stand-up and fight. But story is in no way a focal point, and narrative development only appears at certain points at the start and end of chapters.

You fight this big guy at the start. If you're a White Knight Chronicles fan, then you'll know who exactly he is. For those that don't, meet the titular White Knight.

The hub of the game is that of a train. This is your base of operations, and it’s even possible to add new cars to said train to expand your capabilities – shops, barracks to expand your little army, equipment enhancing services (in which you use materials gathered from the field to increase your stats, with the potential for each piece of equipment to be enhanced up to 10 times) , and more are just some of the perks you’ll receive from doing this. In order to add new cars, you’ll have to purchase them, and if you’re picky and you dislike the arrangement, it’s even possible to switch them around.

It’s from the train that you’re able to get out into the field and do some fighting, and soon enough, if you’ve played Monster Hunter beforehand, you’ll be making comparisons with that game. To enter quests, you do so from the control car and can participate in either field quests (there’s a total of 10 of these in each chapter) or corps quests, with up to three others online, if you so wish. The Corps Quests allow you to build your relationship up with individual party members, and each character has three of these to play through. Completing these quests will give you the opportunity to learn skills from these grateful members, which is a fair trade, if you ask me.

Party members often appear at the end of quests, in which it is then up to you if you wish to recruit them or not. If your Corps is full up, it’s possible to show one of your other members his or her marching orders if you want to employ some fresh blood. It’s also possible to give items to any of your recruited members, and if they like these items, it’ll raise their affinity level with you. Also noteworthy is that overuse of characters can result in exhaustion, in which taking them out on a quest will lower their affinity, so it’s certainly wise to swap them around.

Back to the quests, and these have you doing everything from finding items, slaying monsters and visiting every single area. Speaking of areas, as this is a PSP game they’re cut up into smaller chunks, and in no way are you going to be visiting environments that are the size of the two PS3 games. These constraints do mean that the game feels very suitable for portable play, although sadly, on the other hand, it does mean that you’ll be looking at loading screens for a lot of the time.

The environments are randomly generated, although they’re not terribly interesting to explore – they’re largely empty and characterless places. Each area does have plenty of monsters to strike down and items to find, but they’re just overly boring in appearance and some areas look the same as the last.

The graphics are adequate enough, but nothing more.

Right, the combat. You are able to attach skills to your weapons, in which you can bring into play during battle – scrolling between your options with the d-pad. It’s only possible to use certain skills when you have a specific number of Action Chips (you receive these through attacking enemies), so obviously better skills require more of these. You have your basic attack alongside more powerful extras, and you and your party are able to transform into Optimus’ (which seem to remind everyone of Power Rangers, and I can understand why) once a meter reaches its peak, although only when the entire party is standing. The Optimus’ not only look more heroic, but they’re also more powerful and resourceful in battle and can even team up with a special attack. Battles are faster than the PS3 games, but like those very games, they’re nothing exceptional.

White Knight Chronicles: Origins isn’t bad at all – if you’re looking for something similar to Monster Hunter without Monster and Hunter featured in the title, then this game may just fit the criteria. However, it doesn’t match up to the quality of Capcom’s series and has a number of flaws that hold it back from being something truly special.