Review by ArkhanBladewind
An amazing hybrid of old and new....... with tanks!
I haven't played a good strategy game since Dragon Force on Saturn to be honest. Everything has been stale, unimaginative, unchallenging, and boring......
This all changes with Valkyria Chronicles....
A brief rundown: The game takes place in 1935, in a world similar to Earth, but not quite. The kingdom of Gallia , once neutral, has been plunged into war against the empire. What ensues is an epic tale of the underdog giving one legendary beat down.
The graphics: 10/10. They're no super shaded HD polygon extravaganza, that's for sure, but what it does have is vibrant colors, and a very fancy "colored pencil" like shading to it. The style makes it look like you're literally watching an anime. Think Dragon Quest VIII, only better.
On top of that, the animation is top notch and smooth, and the environment is detailed, free flowing, and elaborate. This means battles have alot of depth to them, which alot of games lack.
On top of this, the theme of the game itself is great. Everyone is wearing soldier garb, but the Gallian's uniforms have this certain flair to them that makes them stand out and look somewhat futuristic. The general theme of the game is 1930s WWI style combat.... with a bit of elaboration.
Music: 10/10 Some of the music sounds like it jumped straight out of a Shining Force game. It's very fitting for the game play, and isn't repetitive at all . It has that epic war march theme going on, and fits the given mood perfect (urgency, victorious destruction, calm peace-time)....Combined with realistic and fitting sound effects for weapons and battle sounds (the grenades) and top notch English AND Japanese voice acting.... I give the sound portion of this game perfect marks as well.
Another fun part is that alot of the sound effects come with onomatopoeias. What are those you ask!? Think Batman comics. While tanks are driving you see "Brrrr rbrbrrrrr" next to the treads. When stuff explodes you see "KABOOM!". It adds to the Anime style, and is funny too :)
Gameplay: 10/10. Yes, the gameplay. What a masterpiece. You command your squad of troops in great detail. You have a gigantic roster of Lancers (Rocket launchers), Shocktroopers (Machine Gunners), Scouts (Archer-like), Engineers (Fix tanks!), Snipers, and then Edelweiss, your tank.
You can have up to 20 in your squad, and depending on the mission you will deploy usually around 10 guys, sometimes split into teams and placed in separate portions of the map.
This gives a greater strategy than you'd find with your standard grid based SRPGs.
Each mission has various goals ranging from destroying the leader, capturing bases, and other such things.............Sounds kind of bland except for the way it is executed.
During battle you view your parchment style map, and click on your members... and are then plunged into a pseudo action style environment where you can run around, duck and crawl behind cover, capture bases, rescue falle comrades, disable mines (if you're an engineer), and of course: Shoot the enemy. You better shoot them, because while you are running around, they certainly shoot at you!
Depending on your member type you will have various ranges. Machine guns don't go as far as sniper rifles, rockets at point blank are not smart, etc. etc. You also have grenades (Hilariously fun), and healing packs.
Once you are in position to fire, you press R1, enter target mode, aim, and shoot! Aiming for the head ensures speedier kills. Often, the enemy is taking cover which makes it harder to kill them (unless you have grenades >:)! ). Grouping up with allies allows for group attacking which helps
Once you shoot, enemies can and will shoot back! Often in groups as well! So precautions must be taken.
Characters also have different traits that activate (pollen allergy, lone wolf for snipers, fancies women) and will give you penalties or bonuses.... so you have to plan who you bring out and where you send them. Sending shock troopers that are allergic to flowers out into a wild flower field will certainly suck for you.
This combat setup requires more strategy then you are used to, because simply running around will get your team killed left and right by snipers and shock troopers. Or tanks. We do not run in front of enemy tanks. No sir.
Aside from this fresh, innovative, and challenging take on battles, you can also hit up Research and Development to outfit your tanks and troops, and you can also hit up training to level your team up. You level up squad types, not individual members. This is incase a guy dies for example. Losing a level 10 shock trooper and replacing him with a level 1 shock trooper is totally not good for your side at all.
There is much more to be said about the battle system, but it is much better for you to play and see for yourself. Check the demo out on the PSN! It is strategic perfection.
Story: 10/10. The final portion of this review..... the story unfolds in a story book (literally!) fashion, and you get to watch little cutscenes that detail the uprising of the Gallian resistance. The characters are pretty lively, memorable, and dynamic. There are a few cliche ideas that appear (Father is an old war hero...) but hey! Its 2008. Soon everything will be a cliche.
Bottom line: If you like strategy games and are looking for something unique that will test your brain more than you are used to, grab this game.... it'll have you hooked in no time.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Valkyria Chronicles (US, 11/04/08)
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