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Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria - Impression

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
Platform: PS2
Developer: tri-Ace
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: September 29th, 2006

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In Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, we learn that the title character is the middle of three sister goddesses who rule over fate. The main character of Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is the youngest of these three sisters, and as the story goes, the most rebellious. Angered by some unknown misconduct, Odin banished Silmeria to Midgard to be reincarnated as a human. However, the process went wrong somehow. Rather than being reincarnated as a human, Silmeria ended up bound to the body of Princess Alicia of Dipan, two souls trapped in one body. The story of Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria works along lines far more traditional to RPGs, forgoing the Chapter and Period structure of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, just one of many changes this game makes as it moves towards more classical RPG gameplay.

"Each enemy has a number of hit areas, which, when struck with sufficient force, will amputate that body part."

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria opens with an extended cutscene, in which the sanctuary of Princess Alicia comes under attack by the forces of Asgard. She flees the castle under the direction of her better half, but quickly comes face to face with Hrist, eldest of the three Valkyrie sisters. Hrist halts Alicia with a glowing spear, and demands that Silmeria returns to Asgard. Silmeria responds by thrusting the bolt back at Hrist, and fleeing into the forest. The story so far has been full of moments like this, showing Alicia’s timid and reluctant personality in sharp contrast to the self-assurance and determination of Silmeria.

Combat in Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth took place on an entirely 2D playing field, with each playable character mapped to a specific button. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria takes this system and adds to it a 3D playing field similar to that seen in Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time or Radiata Stories. On this field, the party is surrounded by a ring indicating attack range, while the enemies ranged around them show a red area that indicates where they can attack. Their attack range can take many different shapes: a circle surrounding them, a cone projecting away from them, or a square set a few paces in front of them. When either party comes into contact with the other, the game switches into the familiar 2D combat system of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. There have been a few other changes, probably the most interesting and amusing of which is the addition of destructable enemies. Each enemy has a number of hit areas, which, when struck with sufficient force, will amputate that body part. Doing this serves two purposes; it allows the player to collect items such as Green Gallbladders and Narwhal Horns, which can be equipped as accessories or used to synthesize items, and it can disable an enemy without killing them. In addition to this, every time a player breaks off an enemy part the game may enter Break Mode, allowing for an unrestrained all-out attack, literally ripping the foe limb from limb. The system still relies a great deal on the player’s timing and understanding of their character’s attacks, but these new additions to the system make for some highly intriguing combat situations.

The Einherjar system of the first game makes a return in Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, but under somewhat reduced circumstances. In Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, the entire game revolved around collecting Einherjar, training them for combat, and sending them to Valhalla to fight for the Gods. However, as a rogue Valkyrie, Silmeria has no intention of sending anyone to Valhalla. Instead, she will reconstitute the Einherjar using psychic energy left behind in the weapons they once wielded, which can be found in dungeons and caves throughout the game. These Einherjar have to be trained before they can be set free, but once they have achieved a certain level, Silmeria can use the Valkyrie’s Materialize ability to re-form the Einherjar’s body, restoring them to life and freeing them from servitude to the Gods. Of course, this isn’t an entirely altruistic act - depending on how well they are trained, Einherjar will leave Silmeria with stat-boosting items capable of increasing her abilities far beyond her level.

The visual style of Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria takes some cues from the first game, using a largely two-dimensional viewpoint. However, it presents a far more unified vision, removing the hand-drawn character portraits and large sprites for a fully CG environment. The end result is a highly detailed and very impressive set of visuals - the game does look nearly as good as initial screenshots made it appear.

Thus far, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria has shown some truly impressive production values, a solid plot, and an intriguing combat system. Watch RPGamer for the full review as the game’s September 29th, 2006 release date draws closer.

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