Xianjian Qixia Zhuan 4 (aka Chinese Paladin 4 or PAL 4, or The Legend of Sword and Fairy 4) is the fifth title in the PAL franchise. Developed with a combination of the popular RenderWare engine and the in-house Gamebox engine, it is the first title in the series to offer a more realistic approach to environment and character presentation; a stylistic gap not unlike that of jumping from Final Fantasy VII to Final Fantasy VIII. This game is set in a fictional ancient China, inspired by Chinese foldlore and its related literature. And to take advantage of the style of character designs, the story in PAL 4 tackles more mature subject matters than the previous titles, such as vengence, death and betrayal.
Chinese Paladin 4 retained many themetic and gameplay elements of the previous titles. Thematically, this game still retained the school of sword-based fantastical martial arts and magic, which gives their disciples the ability called “Soaring Sword”, that can travel around the world rapidly; in mechanic just like airships in other RPG titles. Gameplay-wise, the battle system is very similar to PAL 3 and PAL 3: The Proposal (more details in the Battle System section). This game, also like PAL3, has no random encounters in a dungeon; all of the mobs has visible avatars on the dungeon floor, although the monsters will give chase, it is mainly up to the player whether to fight or flight. This can also give strategic advantage to the player, since mobs’ avatars in close proximity will battle the player together in a single match; thus making it possible to battle more than 20 monsters in a single fight if planned well. Although making the fight much more difficult, but the end loot and experience multiplayer will also increase dramatically, making it an useful technique for grinding.
PAL 4 also features multiple protagonists, all of which that can be switched to lead the party in a dungeon. Different party leaders has different abilities in the dungeon, such as finding locations of treasure chests, or setting traps so that the party can attack a mob from behind, giving the first immediate strike.
Mechanically, PAL 4’s battle system retained the trademark active style of the previous game. The player controlled characters and the mobs are all situated on a single horizontal line on the top right corner of the screen. In the duration of the battle, all of the icons representing the characters and the mobs would race from left of that line to the right with speed depending on their abilities and stats. Once the icon of the character reached the end point on the right side of the line, the said character or mob can make a move similar to any other Japanese RPG. Once the move has been made, the character’s icon representation will start on the left again, and the cycle will continue.
Sequels & Spin-offs
According to the provided “Game Information” page in the game, planned sequels are already in the works. It was revealed that Chinese Paladin 5 and Chinese Paladin Online 2 (a MMO spin-off of the PAL series) are scheduled to be due between 2008 and 2010.
However within a month after Chinese Paladin 4 was released, and PAL4 in the process of breaking Chinese game sales records, top members of Softstar Shanghai had shockingly quit the development team, and in effect, Softstar Shanghai, the developers of PAL 4 was dissolved.To address the many concerned fans of the series, it was reported in early 2008, that the director of the original Chinese Paladin, the “Godfather of PAL” was announced to be onboard with the development of Chinese Paladin 5, and that its development task will be assigned to Softstar Beijing, the developers of PAL 2 in 2002. Also that PAL5 had begun development in Feburary of 2008.