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Valkyria Chronicles Boxart

Strategy RPG for Playstaion 3

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A Deep and Enriching Experience

  • Mar 6, 2009
Rating:
+5
Pros:

+Deep, strategic combat
+Very well polished and presented graphics
+Excellent story!
+Well done voice acting
+Great music

Cons:

-Lackluster enemy AI

Sega has a strange history of producing games.  Sometimes they produce some high caliber games, like the original Sonic games or Skies of Arcadia.  Other times they produce some questionable games like Iron Man or some of the newer Sonic titles.  Either way, they've shown us that they can get things right, and when they do they usually exceed expectations.  Valkyria Chronicles is that kind of a game.  Valkyria Chronicles hits just about all the right notes.

The game centers on Welken Gunther and the conflict that Gallia has with the imperial forces.  When he returns to his hometown, he finds that things aren't going too well and is soon drafted into the Gallian forces, and becomes the leader of Squad 7.  As Welken Gunther it is your job to lead the forces of Gallia to victory against the Empire.  Except there's so much more to the story than that.  It has a surprisingly large amount of themes inherint within the story, as well as lots of twists and turns.  More than that, it has a cst of loveable characters who are well developed with their own distinct personalities. 

Over time, the Japanese RPG has produced a surprsing number of games that have preachy messages, have some fairly juvenile characters and have a tendency to beat you over the head with its themes.  This isn't so in Valkyria Chronicles.  The story keeps moving, has some very mature themes, and isn't afraid to tread territory where the JRPG used to tread.  The story is filled with themes, but the game doesn't beat you over the head with them, nor does it sink to preaching.  There are a few things that might grate on you, but the story keeps moving along.  It's well written as well and well presented.  It also doesn't have any problems pulling on your emotional heartstrings.

The story is told in a story book format.  In each chapter you can select frames to look at the story present itself and you can also select battles to go into, which move the story forward.  Battling in Valkyria Chronicles is unlike anything you've ever experienced before.  It combines the efforts of a strategy RPG well with the efforts of a real time strategy RPG along with even some third person shooters elements.  It sounds complicated but it's very simple to grasp. 

Valkyria Chronicles is somewhat different from your typical tactical RPG. In most tactical RPGs, you and the enemy usually take turns to act, moving along the map to one another and then trading blows. Valkyria Chronicles does something a little different. Instead of taking turns you have what is called Command Points. As long as you still have command points left, you can send forth any unit you like and the order with which you send them doesn't matter. You could even send one ally to do everything provided you have the correct amount of command points.

When you select a unit, however, Valkyria Chronicles throws in another twist. You view the action on an overworld map, but once you select a unit the game shifts into third person where you must move them yourself as though you were playing a third person shooter. It's actually quite unique and breathes a lot of new life into the Tactical RPG genre. When an enemy is in sight, you'll have to aim and fire. The enemy can, if they wish, counterattack you as well. Just the same however, you can take the proper precautions and duck behind cover if you wish. There's quite a deep strategic element to the game. This is not going to be one of those Tactical RPGs where being stronger is all that matters. It goes much deeper than that. The game is balanced in such a way that each unit, depending on what they are is useful for different things. Scouts, for example, are good at pin-pointing where the enemy is, but they lack the firepower to take them down. Snipers, on the other hand, are good on offense, but lack range and defense. No matter how you slice it, it's impossible to take complete advantage of the game. Yet for what it's worth, you never get the feeling the game is too hard or too easy. It's just right.

Providing even more balance is that once you take control of a unit it isn't for an infinite amount of time. Every unit has an action gauge, and when it runs out they can no longer move. You're still allowed to take action such as healing yourself or shooting at your enemy at least. Also, if you decided to keep using the same character over and over again for each command point, you'll notice their action gauge will fill up less and less. Again, it's designed so that you can't take absolute advantage.

Don't neglect your enemy as they have all the same advantages, and disadvantages as you do.  However, you might note that the enemy AI is not perfect.  In moments where they have a chance to decimate you they more than likely won't take it.  Enemy tanks will sometimes waste CP just to move around back and forth but not do anything.  It's easy to take advantage of the AI and yet for what it's worth the game isn't too easy.  You both have the oppurtunity to capture base camps and make them your own, and some mission will require for you to do this, while others have special objectives.  In one mission, for example, your goal is divert an enemy tank, while in another your goal is might be to survive an onslaught for a certain number of turns.  A lot of it really keeps you on your toes and fixated.

Not every mission is story based.  You also have a chance to go and take on skirmishes, which in most cases resemble the missions you've already played, but they can be used to build up your characters.  There are also side missions that get unlocked from time to time which you can take on. 

It's character development and personality that makes Valkyria Chronicles a treat.  When raising characters, they level up together as a squad, not as individuals.  You'll spend experience points similar to how you'll spend money to upgrade tanks and weapons.  You'll spend them to improve entire classes.  Scouts, shocktroopers etc.  Characters, however, have distinct personalities by their character and by their class.  These are called potentials.  Not all of them are good, but they are inherint in every character.  Some characters might feel better fighting in the city, others alone while others have a particular affection for another character.  These can heighten certain statistics or they can diminish them.  The diminishing effects might come from characters having certain allergies or characters who have problems with their back.  Even the more generic characters have a history that you can find out about and understand why they have the potentials they have.  Some potentials are also unlocked through class means, and are more battle oriented.  In some cases a sniper might find more comfort in being in a nest, or an increase an aim.  Scouts might find themselves getting double the movement on the battlefield.  There's a lot of gameplay elements that are incredibly simple to grasp.

Visually, Valkyria Chronicles is by far one of the most beautiful looking games you'll ever see.  The game has a unique art style that cant be beat.  The game has better cinematic looking scenes but the ingame graphics are so good you can't really tell the difference.  It also runs very smoothly.  One problem that might persist is load times from moment to moment.  If you save in the middle of battle you just might be waiting a while for it to load.  Other than a few minor gripes, Valkyria Chronicles doesn't have any major flaws that keep it from being a fantastic gaming experience.

In terms of the music and sound this is where Valkyria Chronicles truly shines.  It has some of the best music you can find in the industry.  Composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XII) it is truly epic in scope and emotionally binding.  The voice acting is surprisingly good and very well done to accompany a very well written script. 

If you are a fan of Strategy RPGs then Valkyria Chronicles is easily one of the best PS3 games out there right now.  You'll find yourself loving every minute of it, and it'll keep you busy for at least 30 hours.  It's deep, strategic and enriching with a well told story.  RPG fans will be pleased.

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More Valkyria Chronicles reviews
review by . December 21, 2008
posted in The Gaming Hub
I have been a fan of the RPG genre for years, I enjoyed both the Western and Japanese flavors, however, my interest in JRPG has been waning in the recent years, due to the generic story and lack of innovation.  So when I first learned about Valkyria Chronicles from Sega, I was a little sceptical, but the word of mouth for this game are all very favorable, so I picked up this game hoping it will change my mind.    The first thing you'll notice about this game is the beautiful …
Quick Tip by . February 21, 2011
posted in Siliconera Bounce
Oh boy, when this isn't an amazing game, then I for sure don't know what one is. Valkyria Chronicles has everything you can wish for, fantastic cast of characters(Vyse, Aika and Fina are returning from Skies of Arcadia baby!!), a lot of action, amazingly well thought maps which more than once challenges your tactical skills and a good written story, about a fictional WWII.   The game is told in chapters, like a book, with mostly fantastic made cutscenes in nice cell shading, you can modify …
Quick Tip by . May 27, 2010
If you loved Skies of Arcadia, get this one made by the same team!
review by . July 20, 2009
posted in The Gaming Hub
Sometimes, being a good girlfriend means sitting on the couch and watching him play a game or playing a game together. I'm a moderate gamer; the new controls are generally more complicated than I'm willing to commit to. He is a hard core gamer. Some games are easier to watch than others, and some are easier to play. This review is not for the hard core gamer. This review if for the girlfriend (or boyfriend, who am I to judge?) that sits on the couch and watches.  Clocking in at just over …
review by . May 15, 2009
posted in The Gaming Hub
Valkyria Chronicles is one of the best games I've played in recent memory. You are young commander Welkin, son of a legendary hero from EWI (the first European war) and are called into duty to repel the invasion of the Empire from your homeland of Gallia. Ah, but this won't be easy for you and your team...the Empire has a powerful ally...a race called Valkyria. The story isn't hard to follow and bears a striking resemblance to Europe during WW II. The cutscenes follow Welkin on his journey from …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this game

Wiki

Valkyria Chronciles is a tactical role-playing game published by Sega, for the PlayStation 3.  The game takes place in Europa, a fictional version of 1930s Europe.  Gallia is attacked by the East European Imperial Alliance for its' ragnite ore.  Players operate as Gallian nationals fending off the invasion. 
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