Review by AcriusGreenleaf
"Best SRPG since Final Fantasy Tactics"
While being a fan of RPGs in general, I played the demo of this game out on a whim thanks to a friend (shoutout to MetaRidley_VII, thanks buddy!) (<(^_^)>) and boy was I pleasantly surprised. What a beautiful and refreshing demo it was. I had found my next video game purchase.
During the PlaystationOne era Squaresoft's Final Fantasy Tactics set the standard for tactical SRPGs. Never before had a perfect blend of story, gameplay, music, and art, been done before in a SRPG.
SEGA's Valkyria Chronicles sets the standard again. From the studio that brought you Skies of Arcadia, comes another epic.
Playing out in a storybook fashion you will cycle through pages to select your upcoming missions and scenes. Setting the stage in the fictional world of Europa, you follow the protagonist and friends who are part of Squad 7, a small militia squad under the country of Gallia. Now the name Europa is designed to resemble Europe, as this game has a real life militaristic 'World War' feel blended with fantasy role-playing elements. Gallia is a small country that eventually gets caught up in the battle for Europa, little does Squad 7 know why.
The story has some cliches yes, but its 2009, what doesn't? Need not worry though, they are few and far between. The story is executed to almost perfection anyway that they aren't even bothersome.
The characters are simply deep and wonderful. If you ever played Skies of Arcadia and felt those characters lovable, you will love them here too! Vyse, Aika, and Fina return! Vyse and Aika come rushing back in this game as playable characters. Even Fina makes an appearance, although not playable.
You will probably fall in love with most of the story-based characters, if not all of them. Everyone in Squad 7 is just very likable. Largo screaming "VEG-TA-BLES!" in mid battle is just a small part of the laughs you will get out of these guys.
Tossing away the standard SRPG grid-map placement, Valkyria Chronicles introduces something new to the genre. No more choosing tiles, you can roam anywhere once a unit is selected. Adding a twist of real time to the already turn based style, enemy units will shoot at you whilst running around the battlefield. No worries though, your units will do the same to theirs.
Now choosing to move a unit will cost Command Points (CP), which you have limited supply of. The more you move the same unit per turn, the less they can move each time, so be careful. When you have selected a unit, it will pan from the flat overhead map-view of the battlefield, to Action Mode, a third person behind the back view of that unit. From there you can move wherever you please until your movement gauge is drained or you decide to stop, as well as getting one time to attack.
As stated above, everything outside of battles and scenes is done in the storybook. Here you can recruit new members, upgrade equipment, upgrade classes, examine the glossary, etc., this is where all your management is done.
Your units consist of 5 general classes, as well as having a tank commander. The classes are as follows -
-Scouts: have the highest movement range
-Shocktroopers: general firepower, strong versus infantry
-Lancers: anti-tank units
-Engineers: they can repair your tank as well as resupply any other unit, second highest movement range
-Snipers: well, their title says it all, they nail infantry from the backlines, go for the headshots!
Now characters do not level up individually, each unit type levels up. As the unit level gets higher (MAX level of 20) each character unlocks their own unique potentials. Potentials are innate abilities each character has that can be good or bad.
All battles you complete receive a ranking at the end, A being the best. The higher your ranking, the more money and experience you will get. All the ranking depends on is how fast you complete your mission, meaning the least amount of turns the better. In most people's opinion this is VC's weakest spot, I think not.
While rewarding you for finishing the missions quickly, you are inclined to blow through all obstacles and enemies to go straight for the objective. While this is not easy, it is definitely possible on some missions, but not all, so be careful. I do not warrant this as something negative. While rankings rate your quickness, killing special enemies, called 'aces,' rewards you with unique weapons, unattainable at shops. There is one ace in each chapter. All in all, it's up to you to how many enemies you want/need to kill. Obviously the less you kill, the harder it will be to reach your objective; the more you kill, the longer it will take you to complete the mission.
The difficulty in VC is definitely there. While it may seem easy the first few missions, if you have not been battle-tested by Chapter 7, prepare to be! The game ramps up its difficulty from here there on out.
This game boasts beautiful cel-shaded graphics in an anime style with a wonderfully drawn out world/environment. The world is a odd mix of your real world military and not so 'real world' fantasy. From the battle maps, to the amazing views, to the laugh out loud funny characters, the presentation is simply astonishing. At this time, there is no better looking cel shaded game.
You definitely feel drawn into the atmosphere while playing.
From the composer most known for his epic music in Final Fantasy Tactics, Hitoshi Sakimoto fails to disappoint. Probably one of the best orchestral video game composers out there(Tactics Ogre, Ogre Battle 64, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XII, are some of his best works),his scores all fit perfectly here. All the music during the games scenes is done nicely; coming in at the right time, and creating that needed emotion during important scenes. There is even a beautiful lyrical sung song in the middle of the game that is very emotional.
The voice actors also did a fantastic job. I know many anime enthusiasts complain about your everyday English-speaking voice actors, but this game is an exception to even them.
A truly hidden gem, much like SEGA's predecessor Skies of Arcadia. This game does not have the recognition it deserves. Much of that probably has to do due to many factors such as no advertising, small amount of game copies, and the Western audience having a lack of taste of anything anime-styled.
Just do yourself a favor and ask anyone who has played the game what they think about it; very few, dislike it. Everybody I know that has played it loves it! I played this every chance I got over the course of a week until I completed it, it's that good! There is even a new game plus mode for when you are finished.
In a time where video games are filled with a plethora of shooters, you cannot go wrong with this original title, it will not disappoint. If you are a fan of RPGs in general this is a must buy. If not, at least download the demo and give it a try, you have nothing to lose.
While Valkyria Chronicles changes some aspects of your general SRPG, it is for the better. While also staying true to the genres roots, it delivers.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/29/09
Game Release: Valkyria Chronicles (US, 11/04/08)
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