Friday, January 15, 2010

White Knight

I occasionally read Penny Arcade news, and sometimes I even agree with them. So I looked at the White Knight Chronicles trailer they posted. I'm not deriding them. Frankly, I don't care if they sell ads for tooth whiteners.

But I have the opposite opinion that they do. Everything the trailer shows makes me more uninterested in the game.

If I saw it sitting on the store shelf, looking forlorn, I'd probably buy it. I buy a lot of games, including just about every RPG.

However, the trailer shows a "customizable city" which is descended straight from Dark Cloud to the point where they use the same terminology. In fact, it's actually smaller and more limited than Dark Cloud's city building, despite the fact that Dark Cloud came out ten years ago. Yes, Dark Cloud also had people you brought back to your town. Dark Cloud 2 went even further.

So I see that this game lets you customize your city, but it actually points out how shallow and limited such customization is. Then it says I can visit other people's cities? Why? What's the point? There's no density or variation to these cities. No personality can be expressed by the player.

The trailer goes on to tell me that I can make my city specialize in building goods and selling goods. But given the limitation of the cities, this seems to be an add-on that doesn't add anything. The fact that it seems to be a primary motivation for building a city is actually damning with faint praise. Sort of like looking at someone's baby pictures and commenting on how nice the paper they're printed on is. The crafting is sure to be painfully shallow and pointless.

However, even those two things aren't enough to sink a game. After all, those are just worthless features. They don't actually damage the rest of the game by existing, except by saying that there will be no unique crafts.

What sinks the game for me is the on-line play.

If your RPG has "on-line play" that means your RPG has to have play that can be on-line. This restricts you to very specific avenues, which it is clear White Knight Chronicles follows.

On-line RPGs have to be either turn based or very, very slow real time (IE, turn based). On-line RPGs have to have identical, uncustomizable equipment and be less about skill and more about wasted time. On-line RPGs downplay maneuvering and precise controls. On-line RPGs have to have shitty animations. I'm not sure why on those last two.

But worst, on-line RPGs always inherit the treadmill. The endless, pointless sidequesting with no hint of plot or character advancement in sight.

And they're touting it as "how cool! Yaaaay! On line play!"

This is the second RPG I've actually not bought specifically because it has on line play. Such RPGs are always terrible. They're inevitably even-worse-than-usual MMORPGs.

I love Level-5. If I hadn't seen the trailer, I would have bought the game. Why don't they just make the insanely good RPGs they've always made before? Why mix chocolate with shit? Shit and chocolate don't mix.

How do you feel about these things?

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