Japan's Weekly Famitsu (suggested slogan: "The Only Magazine In The World") reviewed Sony and Level-5's White Knight Chronicles in their latest issue; shockingly, they did not love it.
The game scored an absolutely not-amazing 7, 8, 7, 7 from Famitsu's crack panel of twelve-word-blurb-writing veteran journalists.
Each reviewer individually mentioned the smooth ebb and flow of the single-player campaign, and bemoaned the clunking chunk of the online mode.
No reviewer details anything specific at all regarding the single-player campaign, aside from mentioning that the menus are a bit awkward.
The key complaint with the online mode — which every reviewer is careful to voice — is that the chatting is "difficult". One reviewer even says: "I wish there was an auto-run / auto-battling feature so that I could enjoy chatting more".
Not a single reviewer says they wish the game had voice chat; however, it's very obvious from the wording of the reviews that chatting is done via text and not voice.
One reviewer mentions that the online mode's matching system is otherwise smooth and convenient, "like a Social Networking Service".
The game goes on sale next Thursday, December 25th, 2008, a day that people in non-Japanese countries call "Christmas".
Personally, I'm a little shocked. I stopped caring about Famitsu's reviews maybe around the time I stopped believing in Santa Claus (that is, before I was born), though usually with a game that the developer obviously spent a couple of tens of millions of dollars on, Famitsu is going to be nice enough to throw them at least three tens and a nine. (Disclaimer: slight exaggeration in previous sentence.)
I want to go on the record and say that, despite commenters saying I have a serious "Microsoft bias" the other day, that White Knight Chronicles has been my most-looked-forward-to game of 2008. The presentation of it just reeks of Japanese animation of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and I find this a far more delicious alternative to, say, the gothic lolitas and toddler-sized maids of modern times.
I played White Knight at Tokyo Game Show last year, and found its little battle system — kind of like a blend of Final Fantasy XII's Gambits and Dance Dance Revolution — cute and snappy.
Then, at Tokyo Game Show 2008, I bore witness to the behind-closed-doors showing of "new, exclusive footage" of the game — which turned out to be a guided tour of an atrociously 1997-esque online mode. Why? Why in the hell? Was it because Sony lost Monster Hunter 3 to Nintendo? Did Sony get on the proverbial horn with Level-5 and scream "Make us something online, quick", or what?
It looks so thrown-together and so cheap that — and this is me getting optimistic again — I can't dare think for a second that it was planned from the start. So when I purchase the game on Christmas, and play it all alone (and mostly naked), I will gladly ignore the shit out of the online component.
In the case of Famitsu, they simply couldn't look past the online mode because it was a touted feature; there are no doubt a dozen words about it printed on the back of the box. Famitsu seemingly seldom ponders the choice of reviewing the "entire package", since Japanese games, unlike, say, Gears of War 2, tend to not have deep online components in addition to robust single-player campaigns.
With White Knight Story, it's kind of unfortunate that the online component dragged the score down. If you were interested in the game, do not lose hope! I'm sure someone will review the singleplayer mode on its own merits sooner or later.