Valkyria Chronicles - Reader Review  

Buy a PS3 for this. It’s worth it!
by Shawn Denney

Click here for game information
40-60 Hours
+ Possibly the Best Presentation Ever
+ Solid Combat
+ Varied Missions
+ Engrossing Story
+ Great Cast
+ New take on Tactical RPG
Click here for scoring definitions 

   Their was a team at SEGA that made an RPG for the Dreamcast called Skies of Arcadia. It is loved by many, myself included. Skies of Arcadia was ported to the GameCube under the name Skies of Arcadia Legends. This only increased its popularity. Now, the creative minds behind that masterpiece have done it again with Valkyria Chronicles.

   The battles System in Valkyria Chronicles is something the world has never seen before. It’s a mixture of turn based combat, map based movement, third person shooting, affinity to characters, and the individuals stats. Every individual part of the combat has been done before in some other game, but not in the total package that Valkyria Chronicles offers. Each Side (you or the opponent) have an attack phase where you are given so many movement points. Each time you select a character, a point disappears (two points for a tank). Once you have selected your unit, you have free range of real time movement. You can move however long your stamina bar holds out. Once its depleted (or ever before it runs out if you want) you can pull up your targeting and take a shot at the enemy. Once finished, its back to selecting which character you want to spend a movement point on. One major difference between Valkyria Chronicles and every other Strategy RPG I can think of is that you can use the same unit more than once each turn. However, the character starts out with less stamina every time you select them in the same attack phase.

   While you are moving a character in combat, the enemy and your fellow troops are acting in partial real time. This means that they will shoot any enemy that they can see. So you will be getting shot at while you run, and the enemy will get shot at while they advance if you position your troops right. Each character has a stand, crouch, and crawl option available. Depending on which one you use will depend on how far they move, how accurate they are, and how well the enemy can shoot at them. When you decided to shoot during your movement of a character, all allies/enemies stop shooting so you can take your time and aim exactly where you want. This is important because head shots do a lot more damage than body shots. Make sure to keep a good watch on what is going on with the enemy though, because if one of your units gets shot down and the enemy touches them or three turns pass, then that unit is dead forever. If you have one of your own units touch a downed ally, then they are saved by the medic.

   Then we come to the actual RPG aspects of this game. All units are split up between classes. Each class has specific attributes, weapons, and weakness. For example, the Shocktrooper is your gung-ho people with machine gun in hand, vicious fire power, good defense, and average movement. The scout has a rifle, moderate defense, and ridiculous movement range. It is up to you how to set up your units and use them effectively. Each unit does not level up individually though, instead leveling up the whole class.

Love the art. LOVE IT! Love the art. LOVE IT!

   Next up we have the weapons/armor of Valkyria Chronicles. You can spend money to upgrade equipment or to purchase new things all together. That is a fairly typical way to do things in RPG’s, however Valkyria Chronicles deviates a bit. Instead of buying a piece of equipment, you buy that model. Meaning that every person who uses a rifle, (the scout’s) now have an upgraded weapon. Everyone receives the perks.

   While this may sound like an awful lot to understand, it all comes together so nicely that anyone could understand it. Just start playing and you’ll get a feel for exactly how it is supposed to work, and appreciate the final product. The in-game tutorial’s do a great job of explain everything for those that need an explanation.

   The sound in Valkyria Chronicles is superb. The voice acting is solid and enjoyable throughout the entirety of the game. The background music is pleasant and suits the game well. The sound effects (guns firing, walls breaking, tanks moving) all sound great and add to the experience while not being overpowering or annoying.

   Valkyria Chronicles story plays out much like a story book. Even the menu presentation is shown like a book. Each subject has a tab, and each part within that tab has its own icon. Each of these icons either represents a cut-scene, or a battle. The bonus to this is that you can watch any of the cut scenes any time you want after you have reached that point in the game. The actual story that these cut scenes and battles are portraying is about Welkin Gunther and his Squad 7 of the Militia. He becomes a captain because his father was a hero in the first Europa War. The game tells a story rich story with this setting that was an absolute joy to witness, and be a part of.

Mental note; “Women that glow blue are bad-ass” Mental note; “Women that glow blue are bad-ass”

   When you look at Valkyria Chronicles, you may notice that it looks like a painting. Then, something will move. If you find yourself amazed to the point of drooling, you’re not alone. I played through the game, and am still in disbelief that they could do those visuals with a video game. It is a masterpiece visually and sets a new bar in artistic design.

   This game can be hard. There was one mission in particular where I died about 8 times before I finally beat it. Well, that could be because I refused to let any of my allies die and disappear from the game. Anyway, the game puts a nice challenge without being frustratingly difficult (although I have to admit. I have a soft spot for those relentlessly difficult games). The time it took to complete it was a solid chunk, but this game was so good that I didn’t want it to end and replayed the missions to get better ranks. Even after that, I wanted more. This game has the play time to match the cost and then some.

   If There is one per se flaw with the game, it is that the Enemy A.I. can be a bit thick. Sometimes it will spend turns running into nowhere land instead of finishing your character off like any person 5 or older would do. This makes for some awkward and perplexing moments. However, this can be somewhat forgiven, because if the enemy A.I. did make full use of the game, it would kick your ass over and over again. Wait a sec………Valkyria Chronicles + Uber Hard = best game ever! The good ol’ team over at SEGA has been kind enough to announce DLC that will do just that; Up the difficulty. Excuse me while I go cry tears of happiness. *sob* *sob*

   Once in a while, a shining gem of a game comes along. Apparently, it’s every time that this team at SEGA gets together. Valkyria Chronicles is a work of art to play, watch, and experience. I have no second thoughts when I state that this is the game that all Tactical RPG’s should be judged by. If you don’t own a PS3, this is a game that would be worth buying the system just so you could play it. It’s that good!

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