White Knight Chronicles – Reviewed

Short Review:

What to love:

v     Pretty graphics

v     Smooth game play

v     Questing with people on-line

What to loathe:

v     Boring/uninventive storyline

v     Quests are incredibly repetitive and require repetition if you want to advance on-line.

Long Review:

White Knight Chronicles is far from a perfect game, but despite its numerous flaws I still thought this game was good enough to purchase.  The main reason for my purchase is that I have been longing for a PS3 game that has magic, elves, knights, armor, and general elements of fantasy for quite some time. I have grown weary of shooting zombies, and I just wasn’t turned on by any of the fantasy games that have been released on the market in the past year. I was almost going to buy (or at least rent) Dante’s Inferno just to play a game where I don’t kill someone with a gun.

Thankfully, I found White Knight Chronicles (WKC), which is fun, but it is debatably as sub par as Dante’s Inferno. WKC certainly has knights, magic, armor, swords, etc! I found myself immediately drawn into this game, and I was even willing to ignore the fact that the games plot is uninventive. The hero is a poor urchin in love with a princess, who saves her at a crucial moment in time. The princess then uses her magic, which she didn’t know she had, to grant our hero the power to use an ancient/magic tool for destruction to fend off her attackers. Of course the princess is captured time and time again, and the hero sets out after her with a band of stock companions. Included in this bland fellowship is the character you create, and although I liked that I got to create a character, the time I spent on him seems to have been primarily for my own benefit. The character is apparently mute, and merely hangs around in the background of most scenes.  It’s kind of like you control a stalker who happens to fight alongside the people in the game.

So now this leaves many gamers with a rather uncomfortable choice. Do they play as their customized avatar or as the hero of the game? The hero, whose name is Leonard, can use the big ancient relic to dispatch larger monsters in a few seconds, and is the person calling the shots in the actual storyline.  Your avatar is the person you had a hand in creating, and is the only person who can go on side quests. Side quests are extra missions, which rely heavily on recycling battlefields and enemies, which can either be done solo or you can team up with other people on-line. I found most side quests require you to play with other people on-line, and I have to admit, playing on-line is really where this game gets fun. Each person has their own avatar, and so far each gamer I’ve played with had a very unique looking avatar. In addition, you get to see the varying ways each gamer combats the enemies they face. My love on on-line gaming made my choice simple.  I chose to play as my avatar, and although it does make dispatching some of those large creatures a little more difficult, it is more time consuming than challenging.

The creature design for the boss creatures is very good, but I feel many people give them more credit than they deserve. Any fan of the anime Escaflowne will be able spot that the design/plot is borrowed from a much better source. The general monster design is a bit tedious. I mean how many environments do you need to fight a big hornet in? The reason for this seems to be that each monster drops little items, and you use those items to make better weapons, armor, and even build your own town. So you need similar monsters so they will drop similar items for you to use. In addition, the only thing that makes monsters difficult to kill is their life bar. Monsters have huge amounts of health, but as long as everyone in your party has learned a healing spell (which is available at level 1 and takes exactly 1 point to learn), then your party will rarely be in danger while playing the story mode. The side quests are a little different, but generally so long as you’ve got a decent party of 3 or 4 you will be able to take down the hardest of foes.

The idea of being able to build your own town, and then post it onto the on-line community for other people to come see your handiwork is pretty cool. Unfortunately, building a town is REALLY expensive to do, and the reward for doing so is only realized after you have shelled out a lot of dough. This kind of discourages people from making their town aesthetically pleasing, as they often sacrifice aesthetics for function. Most gamers seem to have found some Japanese persons hometown which has been built up (since they have had the game 6-9 months longer than us) and simply use someone else’s village to get what they want.

So why am I still hooked on this game? The answer: I want a game with the elements of this game. Am I in love with it? No. I am simply pleased to have my needs met, and play along with other people who love the stuff as much as I do. It is my hope that they will offer good add-on content for this game. A few new levels, and some better challenges could have made this game a much easier sell.

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Something sweet

Currently I am baking an old recipe, and trying to fix it. If it turns out as well as the dessert I made for New Years Eve, I’ll post that recipe too. In any event, I made a beautiful lamb dish for New Years Eve, but my dessert was the true star of the meal that evening. Since I don’t consider myself good at baking, I was shocked to find that I had made such a tasty dessert, so I thought I would share the recipe.

Apple Bread Pudding

Time: A little under 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (or 12 cups) of challah bread cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 large granny smith apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of cognac or brandy
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a ridged baking sheet with cooking spray and place the challah on it. Cook for about 15 minutes until toasted. It might help to take them out and move/stir them around once. Remove once golden and dry.

Step 2: In a large skillet or medium pot melt the butter. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the butter in small bowl. Now add the apples and 1\4 cup of sugar to the skillet and cook over a medium heat and stir for about 15 minutes. You want the apples to be soft and golden. Now add the cinnamon and cognac. Add 1\4 cup of sugar again and cook for 1 to 4 minutes until the the sauce is very syrupy. Remove from heat.

Step 3: In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk,vanilla, and remaining 3/4 cup of sugar.  Add the challah and apples and toss until evenly coated. Leave the challah pieces alone for about 10 minutes to allow them to soak up everything.

Step 4: Use 1 tablespoon of the reserved melted butter to grease an 8-by-11 inch baking dish. Add the bread pudding and drizzle the remaining butter on top.  Bake at 350 degrees  for 50 minutes to an hour, until the custard is set and the top is golden.  Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Serve after you’ve let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.