Review by _pinion_

"Cue: Epic Wagnerian Score"

Utilising the fancy new CANVAS system to achieve a beautifully shaded, faux-3D anime art style and boasting the kind of emotive voice acting any director would step over his own mum to hire, Valkyria Chronicle's tall tale of the insidious Empire's battle against the Federation to claim the entire continent of Europa as their own soon takes a turn for the distinctly Japanese as the mythical Valkyur race enter the picture. You assume the role of Welkin Gunther, the 22-year old nature-loving son of a legendary war hero who's soon drafted into the firmly neutral Gallian militia to head up Squad 7 as its tank commander. To this end, you'll be leading a crew of up to 20 wildly varied unit types (only 10 of which are available to field during battle, however) from a roster of many across 17 episodes which play out in a ‘book' format; memoirs relived by a faceless narrator.

Each ‘chapter' consists of a few scenes – most of which are brief-to-reasonable cut-scenes with about three battles dispersed in-between. There's no autosave feature and the ‘battle' scenes aren't marked, so you best be saving left and right because VC's gripping combat becomes quite involved quite quickly. Not to worry though, because your squad is hugely customisable with a cast of highly personable soldiers – scouts run interference with their generous movement allowance, shock troopers dismantle infantry with their machine guns, snipers find high ground to ace the ants below, lancers take on armour with their massive missile-sticks, and engineers keep your tank up and running while reloading their mates and taking care of battlefield nasties like mines.

Combat begins with an unremarkable bird's eye view of the battleground, with the camera zooming into luscious realtime when you select a soldier to maneouver. From there you're free to move as much as your AP bar will allow, and fire, heal or use an engineer's skills once in that turn. Enemies do fire back at you in realtime as you're positioning yourself though, which makes for very tense moments and some truly epic scraps as your people huddle behind the defense of a sandbag line only to have it blown to smithereens by an Imperial tank coming up the hill. You won't want to lose any of Squad 7, either – all of them have their own traits and unique personalities that are really endearing. Minor characters can and will die permanently if they're wounded and are touched by an enemy or left out on their own for three turns, adding yet another element of intensity to what's already a definite must-have for ever y SRPG'er out for a next-gen fix.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/01/08

Game Release: Senjou no Valkyria (JP, 04/24/08)

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