previews\ Dec 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm

White Knight Chronicles - PS3 - Preview 2

“Hey, you are new to Balandor, aren’t you. … Just keep an eye out for monsters. We are in the wild now.”

If that is not cliché enough, just wait – White Knight Chronicles has more than a few clichés bundled into the story. However, clichés aside, Chronicles should be an entertaining title with a decent story, some familiar elements given a bit of a new treatment and tantalizing graphics.

Aesthetic beauty notwithstanding, White Knight Chronicles, a PlayStation 3 title from Level 5 and SCEA, is a prototypical Japanese RPG. Set to release in early February, Chronicles is the story of a merchant’s apprentice named Leonard who becomes embroiled in a nefarious plot involving a silent princess, and a prophecy with mystical undertones. There are countries at war and duplicitous maneuverings seem to overshadow the game’s tone. It is not certain what is merely arrogance and what is outright, and outlandish, treachery.

And don’t expect the story to give you any clues in spite of some of the rather pointed plot points at the beginning of the game. Hello, obvious, thy name is … well, let it suffice at that.

Part of the allure of WKC is that players will get to create a character, who adventures with the main protagonist as the game begins. There are slots in the initial party setting for up to four characters and the game promises a robust multiplayer online setting in which players can partner up on quests.

The combat plays out in real-time with slotted spells and talents that have timers on them. Leonard starts off with a short sword so dumping skill points (as he levels) into that is a solid idea, Click on a monster, the timer for the default attack – in this case, a slash – appears as a ring on the screen. The ring fills in and the skill is ready to attack. Ranged attacks have maximum ranges on the skills so a mage may have to snuggle in close to the action to nuke the area with a bonfire spell (early area-of-effect spell learned if points are plunked into that category). There are a number of skill pools to put points in and in that regard a party can really be built with tanks and support characters.

Additionally, there is a tactics menu that is accessible and each character can be assigned a combat tactic. Leonard can go all out and attack, or he can take a more defensive posture.

White Knight Chronicles is definitely using the PS3 to render out some stellar graphical elements. The character creation system is rather good, and while the mouth sync for the preview build was not that solid, the game’s animation is excellent and the special effects sparkle.

There are many elements that will be familiar to role-playing gamers; combat yields experience points that translate into levels and levels mean access to better skills and equipment. Monsters killed dropped items and some will upgrade the gear of the party characters.

While White Knight Chronicles may not be reinventing the RPG wheel, it seems to be taking the fundamentals of the genre and creating a game that will yield a lot of fun for fans and PS3 owners. Look for the game to launch February 2, 2010.

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