|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Level 5||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 2, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (4 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
June 4, 2009 - One of the games I was most looking forward to at E3 this year was White Knight Chronicles. This JRPG is set in a fantastical world where a princess has been kidnapped and a major company wages war to try and overthrow the monarchy. The game's main character is a young man named Leonard who has recently come into possession of a magical suit of armor which magically transforms him into the mythical White Knight.
During E3 we got to play one of the game's early levels in the game's story mode. Our character's stats were all maxed out, but the Sony rep guiding us through the demo assured us that the difficulty level would be increased in the full game. We started playing with a party of four, and tried out the game's battle system with little difficulty.
Although the game's battle system is completely active, you will still use in-game menus in order to access your attack roster, much like the Kingdom Hearts series. When your character engages in battle, you will see a small icon appear letting you know that enemies are available to be targeted. You then press the X button to pull up your battle menu. The bottom of the screen shows various actions, and you can select them by highlighting them with the left/right buttons and then pressing the X button again to engage them.
In addition to standard attacks, you can load your battle menu with special combos that you create. Since all of the characters' abilities were unlocked for us, we got to really get into the deep aspects of the editor. Basically, your character will have a certain set of basic attacks and skills that can be chained together. The combo editor will assist you the whole way, by highlighting moves that would make sense in the combo you are creating as well as elemental attacks that can be used with basic moves to create even more devastating attacks.
There is an incredible sense of freedom with the combo creator, and the sheer amount of moves that we were able to chain together was ridiculous. Creating and trying out special moves was plenty of fun, and there are enough individual moves and features to keep you working towards your individual best combos.
Although this battle system does take a little getting used to, it works well after you play with it a little bit. The menu is fully customizable, and I find it works best to put your standard attack in the first slot, followed by some healing magic and then your custom attacks in the final slots (since these will often be your strongest).
We only got to try the single-player battle experience, but while we were at Sony's both, I also picked their brain about changes for the localization as well as the multiplayer aspect of the game that we've been hearing so much about. When the game came out in Japan last year, it was certainly a best-seller, but one of the main criticisms of it was that it was too easy, and hardcore RPG fans complained that this made the experience a little too short. Luckily, during the localization process, the White Knight team is going in and adding more elements to the gameplay to make it more challenging for the US market.
As far as the multiplayer is concerned, it will be firmly tied to the single-player experience but not required to complete the story mode. At the beginning of the story mode, you create your own character to join the party of established main characters. Although you can play as every character in your party in story mode, when you take your game online, you can only play as your created character. You keep all your current stats and levels from the game, and based on these facets, you will be assigned a guild. Other people with similar stats will join you, and you'll be able to take part in multiplayer quests that are completely independent of your progress in the story.
The multiplayer component is completely optional, but the Sony rep I talked to stressed that there will definitely be benefits to taking time out of the story to complete multiplayer quests, such as bonus items and equipment rewards. These items and equipment cannot be found in the linear story, and they will be completely transferable between both modes.
Our time with White Knight Chronicles was fairly brief, but the taste of the battle system that we got, as well as the combo customization system were definitely impressive. This is looking like the first really great PS3-exclusive JRPG this generation, and I am very excited for its North American debut next year.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor