White Knight Chronicles: Origins is a PSP exclusive prequel to its big brothers on PlayStation 3 and takes place during the ‘Dogma Wars’. Those who have played the games may appreciate an extended back-story and those who have not (like myself) will find themselves playing a fairly typical Japanese RPG.[drop]The story begins with a lengthy character creation sequence which finds you talking to a mysterious boy as a city is overrun by the Yshrenian Empire. The boy asks you a number of questions which help determine your character and you can also alter your appearance and race.
One thing you cannot do is change your outfit and as with many Japanese RPGs it’s rather difficult to tell who is a male and who is female. Your character – whatever sex you choose – seems to favour a tunic, rather tight cycling shorts and a green mini skirt.
An avalanche of tutorials start the game as you learn combat, how to transform into ‘Optimus’ mode (sadly not a big red truck), how to craft new items, where the shops are and probably the best way to remove fluff from your belly button. It took me nearly an hour of installation, creation and tutorials before I got to play the main game.
Your character has joined the Mobile Corps, a team of fighters who live and travel on a train which doesn’t require tracks. The train is split into a number of carriages which hold a shop, barracks, a blacksmith and all the other usual features you would find in a JRPG town.
As the game is a massive dungeon crawler, the train is a neat idea. Rather from travel from town to town battling monsters the train takes you to each location and acts as a central hub, negating the requirement for hundreds of towns to be designed and loaded into the PSP.
After accepting a quest, you can pick your team of fighters and head off to the fight. The X button is used for basic attacks and a menu system can be accessed to pull off special attacks and magic. Using the menu system takes a while to get used to and you may find yourself hammering the X button to attack for a few seconds before noticing you have an empty selection in the menu.
Upon completing a quest, you will earn a large amount of items which can be used for crafting or sold in the shop. The automated crafting option is a godsend for those who do not want to spend hours sorting their booty. You may also encounter a new NPC who you can ask to join your team but you are limited to the amount of people the train can hold until you buy extra cars.[drop2]The graphics for the dungeons are basic at best but this is a necessity as with four players running about and numerous enemies the battlefield can be very busy. The frame rate creaks here and there, it’s not terrible but it is noticeable. None of the characters speak (it’s all text) but the music adds to the excitement and ranges from big orchestral numbers to frantic J-pop tunes during battles.
The biggest problem with White Knight Chronicles: Origins is that the developers have tried to cram a huge JRPG on the PSP and it really can’t handle such a massive game. The quests are rather similar – go to location X, destroy Y number of enemies, collect Z lots of booty – and are punctuated by the occasional boss battle. The locations are all very similar and the quests hold little variation.
- Massive game with hundreds of items to discover.
- A proper RPG rather than a version cut down for the PSP.
- Team up with other players online to complete quests.
- Repetitive dungeons.
- Frame rate drops when the action hots up.
- Cycling shorts and a mini skirt are a fashion faux-pas.
The game has left me wanting just one thing: A PS Vita version. With improved graphics and extra storage space PS Vita Origins could be a spectacular game, let’s hope they have something in production.