Well I am not sure I have gone about this the right way, having just played White Knight Chronicles 2, never touched the original and now I am about to attempt the prequel, White Knight Chronicles: Origins. Origins is a PSP RPG exclusive title that introduces us to a whole new cast of characters and takes us to the early days of the often mentioned Dogma Wars.
The Yshrenian Empire have unleashed the full force of their army and have stormed over most of the land with little opposition offered against their White Knights. We join the story right as one of the final cities falls with your avatar having to make some vital choices, stay and fight an impossible battle or run and hide, leaving the townsfolk to certain doom.
Just like the other White Knight Chronicles games you start by creating your own avatar from a huge customization selection, unlike the console versions though you play as the main character, awakening from the earlier battle in a strange train. After the initial barrage of information via the tutorial the game very quickly falls into place with you joining a group of mercenaries called the Mobile Corps; who travel the land between the Yshrenian Empire and the last hope or survival, the Magical Kingdom of Athwan via a huge horse pulled train.
The train is split into a selection of separate cars including a control car where you open up new quests, a guild car that is home to an item shop and a blacksmith who is able to upgrade your equipment, a comms car where you set up online games and a barracks car where you can find the rest of your team.
Origins is basically a huge series of quests that you receive from the head of the Mobile Corps, Cassius. Once confirmed the train will then drop yourself and your chosen team at the relevant field and though quest descriptions do vary they are inevitably the same, clear a room of monsters and then move onto the next, occasionally fighting huge bosses. The same can be said about the environments, with many being reused over and over again, albeit with different enemies.
The action is pretty much the same as other White Knight Chronicles games but with a few omissions to fit on the small but capable PSP screen. The X button will pretty much be mashed to a pulp, with every attack associated to it. To change moves there is a three tier menu system at the bottom of the screen that you can scroll through with the d-pad, allowing you to pull off whatever moves you have previously unlocked. There is a solid group of weapons to choose from right from the start with long swords, bows, staffs and magic readily available. Each weapon has it’s own sets of basic and power moves. The basic moves boost your AC gauge that can then be converted to use the more powerful weapons. You can unlock even more powers by purchasing them and unlocking other moves by carrying out personal Corps Quests for you team mates.
At the start of each fight you are given the option to choose your group plus select which Optimi to use in battle. Optimi are similar to the White Knights in that they are attached to your soul and reflect your personality, creating a huge warrior with even more powerful moves. Once you have earned enough power, the whole team are able to transform at once and in a Power Rangers inspired move, that then allows you to pull off an awesome four way attack to take out even the hardest of foes. There are four styles of Optimi to choose from, Bravery, Sorcery, Defence and Energy, each one boosting certain stats during battle.
At the end of quests, as well as the normal stats and lists of items you collected during battle you will also have the opportunity to recruit another member to your team. With only a limited space for recruits you will have to pick and choose carefully as each new member will eventually offer you new Corps Quests quests which allow you to learn even more skills.
Being a portable game iteration of a console game the balance is perfectly struck with easy to use menus plus only your character to concentrate on. The menus are easy to flick through and seeing the benefit of each piece of equipment or weapon is relatively easy to follow.
A welcome addition is the online play; available both local and online you can team up with three other players to take on the same quests available in single player. This offers both pros and cons as team talk is a nightmare using the quick emote icons but, you earn significantly more loot so if looking for games it’s best to play local.
Though an enjoyable experience there are a few problems that dog the game throughout. Firstly the loading times are just far too slow, even if you clear some memory card space for the 500mb install the speeds are just a crawl and really hinder gameplay, especially when you have to load every room you walk into, that equates to a lot of waiting. The idea of a portable game is that you can pick up and play in short bursts and whilst missions are mostly short and sweet the lack of a pause button causes unnecessary headaches, what are you supposed to do mid battle if the boss walks around the corner?
White Knight Chronicles Origins has an interesting blend of singleplayer RPG and mini MMO ideas that create a portable game that thankfully you need no prior White Knight Chronicles experience to enjoy.
Rating: Good Review policy
You can order White Knight Chronicles: Origins from ShopTo here.