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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: D3 Publisher
Developed By: Level-5
Genre: RPG
Players: 1 (2-5 Online)
Rated: T for Teen (Mild Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence)
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

October 15, 2011 - When White Knight Chronicles: International Edition first hit the Western shores back in last year, the title was met with harsh criticism and praise from a multitude of media outlets. Being one of those outlets, we felt the game was a solid first attempt by Level-5 for the PlayStation 3 console; however there were some room for improvements. Now 19 months later, Level-5 is back at it with White Knight Chronicles II, the sequel to the much talked about JRPG formally published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Taking the feedback given by fans, consumers and media outlets alike seriously, Level-5 looked to rectify many of the issues that plagued the first title.

Considering White Knight Chronicles II continues the epic story of the first title, a decision was made early on in its development to include a re-mastered copy of the original White Knight Chronicles, allowing for the ďcompleteĒ experience. This decision was a smart move because the first game wasnít mass produced like other RPGs released in the Western markets and if you are new to the series, you would be able to experience the story from the beginning, while understanding all the events as they unfold. The re-mastered version of White Knight Chronicles includes improved animations and textures. Having played the first installment, the improved visuals are noticeable, though I didnít have any issues with how the original game was designed. Re-mastered or not, getting two games for the price of one is a rarity in todayís industry.

Whether youíve played the first White Knight Chronicles or not, White Knight Chronicles II opens with a very in-depth and informative cutscene that explains the events of the first title and how everything leads up to the start of the second installment. It seems that Grazel and a group of Magi are setting events into motion that would lead to the resurrection of the Yshrenian Empire. In order to do that, they set out to attack and conquer all the known kingdoms; with the help of an Incorruptus known as the Sun King. Everything was going great for Grazel until he came across Leonard, the main protagonist, who came to the aid of Princess Cisna and happens to stumble across an Incorruptus of his own within the Kingdom of Balador. Known as the Wight Knight Wisel, this Incorruptus was once said to be the most powerful of them allÖ in the right hands of course.

The events within White Knight Chronicles span seven chapters, which will truly test you (your created character), Leonard, Eldore, Yulie and Princess Cisnaís resolve for stopping Grazel at all cost. Upon defeating Grazel in battle, he disappears to Redhorn Isle, from where you will plan his next attack. Roughly a year after climatic events of White Knight Chronicles, Grazel sets his sights on the Land of Faria. It is here that the events of White Knight Chronicles II begin and where you and your friends must put an end to Grazelís madness. If you have played and completed the first installment in the series, you have an option of importing your saved data from the first game into White Knight Chronicles II. If doing so and you are not at level 35, you character will automatically be leveled up to that level via the game. For those who want to start anew, you have the option of starting a whole new game where your level 35 characters will have the basic of abilities and weapons. You will be tasked with doling out the experience points for being level 35 in order to prep your fighter for combat.

Just like with White Knight Chronicles, White Knight Chronicles IIís story takes a backseat to the combat system. When you are not roaming around a town or engage in a heated dialog session, you will often enough find yourself on the battlefield. The combat system of White Knight Chronicles II is the same found within the first installment, only this time tweaked and refined for a better experience. The action isnít turn-based, nor is it real time. You have a circular gauge that, when filled, will allow you to attack your foe with any attack of your choosing. While not present on the screen, this gauge also applies to your comrades. Upon vanquishing a foe, you will earn experience points, dropped items and gold to spend on upgrades. One of the greatest features to the combat system is the fact you donít have to worry about random encounters. Each and every enemy is present on the screen, and you have the option to fight them or avoid them all together. However, just like with the first title, avoiding too many battles will lead to tougher encounters the further along you get in the game.

Your comrades in arms are fully customizable when it comes to combat. You can either specialize each one within one specific skill tree Ė Axe, Bow, Divine Magic, Elemental Magic, Longsword, Shortsword, Spear and Staff - or have them utilize several different weapon styles. Some may opt to have all swordsmen, while others will opt for a blending of the skills. No matter which approach you take, itís always good to have at least one member of your party specializing in Divine Magic, which will allow you to heal your party members and cure them of any and all ailments. As you level up, you will get skill points which let you add additional skills to each of your characters; allowing them to perform more powerful attacks, and cast more effective defensive and offensive spells. The skills you acquire can be assigned to three different Command Sets, which are used during battle in order to fight, defend and heal. These Command Sets can also be setup for your comrades, allowing you to have some control over how they fight within battle beyond simply having them all attack one enemy at a time, attack as they see fit or staying out of the action all together.

Whether in battle on roaming around the various kingdoms, you acquire new items and various elements which can either be sold or used to enhance your weaponry and armaments in order to fare better in battle. Excess weapons and armaments you no longer need can be sold off in shops or broken down into its elemental form to be used for something else. Almost every town you visit on your quest will have new armaments that are stronger and more durable that the ones you already have equipped. Itís best to keep upgrading as you progress through the story to make sure you survive the grueling battles ahead of you. However, keep in mind that the characteristics of the armaments can have adverse affects on your character within battle. If the armaments are characterized as heavy, as oppose to medium or light will result on slower movements within battle. While the different isnít that drastic, it can be a deciding factor in whether you land a much needed attack in time.

The visuals presentation of White Knight Chronicles II is an improvement when compared to the original title. The character models and environments are more life-like and vibrant. The visuals fall in between the likes of Final Fantasy XIII and Valkyria Chronicles. A nice touch to the visual design is when you are watching in-game cutscenes; whatever armor your party members have equipped will show within the cutscene. Far too many JRPGs opt for a default presentation for the cutscenes, despite wearing differing attire in-game. Level-5 took a different approach with the designing of White Knight Chronicles in for the series to have its distinct visual presentation. The in-game HUD/Menu System is nicely designed, offering countless bits of information to you within easy to navigate tabs. The musical score is befitting of White Knight Chronicles. Itís not something that will stir up emotions within you, but it definitely suites the onscreen action. The voiceover worm is passable. Most of the characters lack any emotion behind the deliverance of their lines. Just like with the first installment, your created character wonít utter a single world.

For those looking for more out of White Knight Chronicles II will be happy to know that there is more to the experience simply saving the world. White Knight Chronicles II is littered with several side quests, which can be partaken upon during for single-player quest, or as an afterthought, once you have gotten through the campaign. These side quests range from bounty missions, to running errands and delivering messages for key individuals. If thatís not enough for you, White Knight Chronicles also includes online co-op play, which supports up to six other players. Hooking up with a few friends or random strangers makes the experience richer and more rewarding. You can communicate via your wireless headsets or via the built-in messaging and Ďemoteí system.

Level-5ís work on White Knight Chronicles II takes two steps forward and one step back. While they did improve upon some gameplay mechanics that fans of the first installment voiced their concerns about, there were other issues left intact for the sequel. Despite that, White Knight Chronicles II provides a rich and rewarding experience thanks in part to its inclusion of the original White Knights Chronicles. Whether this is your first time experience White Knight Chronicles, our you are returning to the series for your second outing, expect 30+ hours of gameplay - more when you add in online play and side quests Ė and an engrossing story. If you havenít picked up White Knight Chronicles II yet, I recommend giving it a playthrough. Who knows, you love of the series could span yet another title in the near future.


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