TOKYO--Level 5 is a developer to keep a close eye on for sure. Its upcoming role-playing game, White Knight Chronicles, is an exclusive PlayStation 3 game that is like two games in one. You have a solid single-player experience that will take you through the main storyline, and if you want, you can take the adventure online to play with up to three friends. Last year at the Tokyo Game Show, we were able to get some hands-on time, but this year, it was only a PowerPoint presentation and a couple of trailers. We met with Sony Computer Entertainment Japan to see how the game is progressing, as well as take a look at some of the characters, customization, battle mechanics, and online components.
The trailer opened up by showing some gorgeous images of a densely populated city and a giant turtle carrying an entire city in its back. We were introduced to the main characters in the game. Just by watching the trailer, we could tell that we were in for an action-packed RPG with elaborate cutscenes and a touching story. The second trailer introduced character or avatar customization, and we saw some of the online play, which felt very much like a massively multiplayer online game.
During the presentation, the producer of the game, Kentaro Motomura, went over some of the key aspects of White Knight Chronicles. He said that Level 5 wanted to create an authentic fantasy world where the most prominent features include objects and creatures that are enormous in scale. The gargantuan turtle we saw earlier was an example. Size also comes into play when your main character, Leonard, is able to transform into a towering White Knight.
The story involves rescuing a princess, and though that storyline has been used many times, it's not just about the overall goal--it's about how you get there. Leonard, who works for a wine merchant, happens to be at the castle when it is attacked by a wizard. He helps Princess Cisna escape and finds a mysterious suit of armor that is able to transform him into a powerful warrior. While he's busy fighting off the enemy, the princess ends up getting caught anyway, and in typical heroic fashion, he decides to go after her.
The active time-battle system was described as being heavily customizable because you are given a good chunk of commands to work with to create and name your own combos. You are given a palette to work with, and once you have it set up, the controls should be simple and easy. When Leonard is fighting, his gauge will fill, and once it is full, he can transform. Motomura said that there is strategy involved in the battles because you can't always count on transforming. Sometimes the monsters you face will also be very large, and it is possible to defeat them without being oversized.
The presentation also went into the avatar system where you can create your own character and adjust his or her features. There was a lot of customization that could be done so that each character is unique. Your avatar will come in later during the main story, but having an avatar means you can also play with other people's characters online. Through the PlayStation Network, you can link up and play co-operatively with three friends to go on quests. The demo that we saw had a group of adventurers take on a hulking troll. We were told that the data for your avatar is shared online and offline, so everything you earn (money, experience, items) online in quests will stay with you when you play in single-player mode. Quests can only be done with four people, but the online lobby can have up to 16 players. Like other MMOGs, you'll be able to send messages to each other and mess around with character motions.
It's too bad we didn't have a chance to play because the trailers looked amazing, and there seems to be a lot you can do with the battle system. White Knight Chronicles is scheduled for a December 25 release date in Japan only. No announcements have been made for North America, but we hope to be able to get more information on this game soon, so be sure to keep checking back.