TGS '07: [Update] Shirokishi Monogatari First Hands-On

We take our first hands-on look at this PlayStation 3 RPG from Level 5, and also get a tour of the game from the producer and director.

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TOKYO--One of the busiest booths here at TGS '07 is Level 5's, a sprawling affair with a mighty queue outside of it. Luckily, one of the most anticipated games from Level 5 is on show at Sony's booth and is a bit easier to access: their PS3 RPG that was previously known through translation as White Knight Story but has now apparently gotten a more official English title: White Knight Chronicles.

Our first look at the game in almost a year also wound up being our first hands-on experience with the title, as it was fully playable on the show floor. As you may expect with an RPG that was exclusively in Japanese, it was a bit difficult to understand what was going on, but with a little struggling we managed to play around for a bit. We also later managed to get a guided tour of the demo from the Level 5 producers, and have thus managed to expand this preview a bit, so read on for new information.

Only one quest was playable on the show floor from what we could tell. Roughly titled "Dangerous Return Home", it involves you guiding a party of three characters as they attempt to escort a cart full of wine back to their village. Before you play, you have to select a character from a list of eight. In the final game, you'll be able to create your own character, but for the purposes of the TGS demo, you have to select from these premade characters.

Interestingly enough, this isn't the main character of the game; instead, the character you create is a friend of the main protagonist, a young man named Leonard. Leonard is who you'll control during the demo, and the story seems to revolve around his adventure. We got a rough outline of the plot of the game: apparently, Leonard is a resident of a rural area of a large kingdom that falls under attack from external enemies. After somehow managing to attend a royal ball, he witnesses a particularly brutal attack that sends the ball into disarray, and takes it upon himself to rescue the princess after she's kidnapped.

Along the way, he meets the titular White Knight and manages to bond with it, which allows him to transform into a huge, 40-foot-tall knight. In most battles, this apparently isn't necessary, but when you encounter particularly brutal and huge enemies, you'll have to morph upwards and use the White Knight to defeat bosses.

Anyway, after selecting a character, you're set loose in the world and can begin moving around. The first frame of reference here is that the game moves a bit like Final Fantasy XII; the camera is set low to the ground, and you can view all of the characters in your party as they travel around. The game looks very nice at the moment, with some lovely pastoral environments. It's still fairly early in development, so we can expect it to look even better by the time it actually arrives.

As you move around the environment, you'll spot a small radar screen in the corner of your view that will let you see any objects of interest in the game world. For the purposes of the short demo that we played, these mostly took the form of small doll-like creatures that populated the fields around the dirt road on which we were traveling. They didn't interact with us when we walked up to them, but as with neutral creatures in FF XII, you can select to attack them by tapping the O button. This will automatically enter you into combat. However, if you choose to leave them alone, they won't attack you; if you travel along the road, though, you will eventually encounter armored bandits that will attempt to steal the cart from you.

Combat in White Knight Story, again like FF XII, takes place on the same map as the one that you walk around in; there's no loading screen or separate battle sequences. One thing to keep in mind is that you won't want to just wade into battle and start slashing away; you'll want to set up your combos before engaging in combos. This can be done in the pause menu; each character has a selection of six function slots that they can fill with different actions. It seemed relatively easy to implement a lengthy combo (at least for the developers) that incorporated, for instance, a few simple sword slashes, an upwards slash that knocked the opponent into the air, a few airborne sword strikes, and then a fireball spell that lit the enemy alight as he fell to the ground. We're not sure yet how these attacks are balanced; we're guessing that some kind of mana is used to prevent you from repeatedly hit your foes with huge powerful combos.

In the demo here, only Leonard is playable; the other two characters, including the one you select at the beginning of the demo, are controlled by the AI. In the final game, all of the characters will be usable, but you'll only be able to select one of them in the demo, and it's Leonard by default. Level 5 isn't too sure how the AI of the unused characters will be set in the final game; they said that their combo systems will determine how they act in combat, but they may also have other AI settings for the purposes of using items and healing other characters when needed.

At the end of the demo, Leonard and his friends encounter a huge, fearsome troll, standing perhaps 50 feet tall. The game will have dozens of these huge enemies, if the promo trailer is any indication, and taking them down will require Leonard to transform into the White Knight. The combat functionality of the White Knight hasn't been implemented yet, so he only has a basic attack; we're told that you will be able to create custom combos for him in the final game. It's not clear if other characters will also be able to super-size themselves, but for this boss fight, the smaller characters fought alongside Leonard as he and the troll went head to head. Small characters are unable to hurt huge bosses, but they can cast spells, and seemed to team up to heal Leonard during the fight. Eventually he managed to land a killing blow, sending the troll toppling to the ground, after which he returned to his human form and returned to the cart.

Although the game seems to still be early in development, the arrival of a Level 5 RPG on the Playstation 3 will obviously be a big boon to the systems fortunes, especially in the RPG-happy land of Japan. It seems as though Level 5 is concentrating on getting the core gameplay down before working on the English translation of the game, but from what we've seen, there's a lot to look forward to in White Knight Chronicles. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information on the game as it becomes available.

Discussion

91 comments
wildmercy
wildmercy

This game well be a cool RPG, maybe my bestfriend would get a ps3 for this game.

zunit88
zunit88

This game looks great

saadxxx
saadxxx

i am sure that this is a cool game but its Japnes so if ther one in english i well defnatle buy it

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Looking forward to seeing and reading more about the White Knight.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

The fight system may mimic TRT type games like ff12 slightly but the amibition being put into the game seems to be a lot. I hope it turns out good.

Nineball2112
Nineball2112

This game looks GREAT! The trailer makes it look like a movie! I'll be getting this one no matter what! WOW!

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

Peaople that keep saying if its not turn based then it wont good thats silly this is Level 5 we are Talking about Dark Cloud 1, 2 were not turn based and they are great games.

bamfer3
bamfer3

as it says on the genre: fantasy turn-based strategy. This actually gives a challenge to the game as jjdomo said, you have to think to be able to beat games like FFX rather in FFXII and FFXIII you don't experience what the game offers when you're going from dungeon to dungeon slashing and killing

jjdomo
jjdomo

I'm with KALHETMAN, i didn't like FF XII . . . I'd like to see them go back to the old school method....you run into an enemy and a new screen loads where your party is lined up on one side of the screen, the bad guys are lined up on the other and you take turns going at it. I want to control every action of every party member, not just set some stupid guidelines for how they should behave.

some001
some001

first time when i read this review was 22 sep 2007 and today is 24 mar 2008 which mean : plz inform us about whats new in this game....

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

Just to let everyone know that Dark Cloud 3 will be coming out for the PS3 in 2009.

nirobu
nirobu

it looks good, but i hope the story and gameplay is just as good

Solid_Devil
Solid_Devil

It looks pretty good...i think this could be yet another RPG worth getting for my PS3.

KALHETMAN
KALHETMAN

If is like FF-XII PS2 - I don't want it. If is really RPG with Turn Based option - like true FF (only FF-VII,VIII and IX is true FF for me) - yes, I want spend my money for this game. I'm suspicious this is next mistake of the developers - why not back to the really good interface's original RPG. I VERY DON'T LIKE !action! RPG (smash,slash bottoms burred me). Because is in section: TURN BASE - I look for this game. I hope so final product is for people like me -¿Or I'm "the last" crazy for turn bases games with good story and old school tactics, strategy elements? I'm sure is a lot people who like use brain in RPG and strategy - not only fingers in action and easy AUTOMATIC control all around. Maybe better when we - players - have all controls of our team personally like in OLD TIME. Sorry. Maybe I'm ridiculous but reading about game LIKE FF-XII wake up sadness. When coming games like the best in RPG FF-VII... VIII... IX... or Chrono's - I'm still hopeless... and waiting...

LPH79
LPH79

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

lowkey254
lowkey254

It will be good as long as it has a story to go along with it. FFXII's only downfall was the story.

Genson77
Genson77

We will have to try this game, looks cool.

eminem_trick_01
eminem_trick_01

F F XII fighting system was unique but also annonying sometimes ,so i don't know why i feel this gonna be like F F XII ,i mean F F series are popular ,and this game aren't popular as F F XII so i think it's gonna be disappointing ,otherwise..with PS3 possibilities it can be awesome.

MetalKeiya
MetalKeiya

Wow... why aren't people looking this game up? It looks so freaking awesome.

hordaak
hordaak

Typical...gotta wait again. It sucks cuz I watch all the 360 people have their fun while I waste YEARS away waiting and waiting.

Kireina-Neko
Kireina-Neko

I am playing FFXII right now, so I'll be tracking this one for sure...

dwmorrow
dwmorrow

I prefer turn-based combat in RPGs, but this game looks friggin' awesome all the same. The transformation is pretty cool, especially if you're a fan of anime.

IamTakkun
IamTakkun

To be perfectly honest, this game doesn't look at that great... Looks like it'll take off then fall completely short of it hype. The "transforming" even bored me, it looked pretty cheesy. Sad thing is I'm usually first in line for Sony's games... Sorry guys.

istylee
istylee

ah another great title coming to the ps3! oh man i hope to see a dark cloud/chronicle sequal for the ps3!

sniper2k0
sniper2k0

Dozens of HUGE enemies... Me so likey...

BluBucket
BluBucket

Jeanne D'Arc 4 psp was a great game. I expect no less from this one.

Azurian-X
Azurian-X

This game looks, and will be awesome. Level 5 always delivers solid games.

LegionofClouds
LegionofClouds

Woot i love these guys They frickin made the dark Cloud series They also had the most awesome BGM, as Jehuty08 said Huh 3rd reason to get a PS3 is here Now just have to wait for that FFXIII and this Then the PS3 will finally be worth buying

duque501
duque501

Why is that Gamespot is not puting on the headline the name as we know this game on the west? White Knight. Is it so hard? Or is this another attempt of Gamespot to diminish Sony videogames. The video-review of Halo 3 looks more as a promotional ad for the tone of the reviewer and the music than an unbias review. Thanks again Gamespot for your unbias journalists.

Jehuty08
Jehuty08

if level 5's track record is any indication of this games quality than I can say pretty confidently that this game will be AWSOME

Chaosctf2k
Chaosctf2k

YES! Finally a character named Leonard! YES!

mkreku
mkreku

Oohh, let's hope it becomes as good (and open-ended!) as Dragon Quest 8!

Hitamaru-homia
Hitamaru-homia

AAA title theres!!! Another addition for my ps3 to eat ;)

Knightmare_King
Knightmare_King

This game right here...this game right here would be the BIGGEST reason I would get a PS 3 i seen the traliers for this and my mouth dropped....but its going to be a while before this game come out.....i can wait...LOL

sturshel
sturshel

Woohoo! Sounds stunning, but Boohoooo - Loong wait - sounds as its far far far far away from playin

FiddleStick
FiddleStick

this looks to be one helluva game. cant wait for it. @The_Great_Samu if you actually think Enchanted Arms looks better than Lost Odyssey you need to have your eyes checked. and aside from that...the gameplay in Enchanted Arms was awful in my opinion. the combat was slow and boring. it was just a boring game overall.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Seems like they're still in the early stages. It won't be coming in Japan this year either it seems.

Sony_FanBoy
Sony_FanBoy

I truly can not wait for this game. I've been excited about it since it was shown off at last years TGS.

PSdual_wielder
PSdual_wielder

like hell I'm not going to get this game. Anything made by level-5 is always promising.

Felled
Felled

The only game that I want to play on PS3. Otherwise my PS3 is just a BD player.

The_Great_Samu
The_Great_Samu

Looks and sounds great, can't wait to play it. I hope the gameplay is better than in FFXII, it's not bad but try comparing it to EQ2 or WoW. "This looks better than Lost Odyssey" Lost Odyssey looks like FFXII in high def, with more generic characters, I mean it doesn't really shout "nextgen"... even enchanted arms looks better than Lost Odyssey, though Lost Odyssey might be a better game...