Review by TheLastAvatar05

"One of the best games since Skies of Arcadia."

Sega's Valkyria Chronicles appears to be one of the most underrated sleeper hits to appear on the PS3. It is not your average RPG that you normally play and toss aside after a few hours of gameplay. This game literally grabs your attention and doesn't let go in terms of storyline, gameplay, visual graphics, and best of all, unbelievable replay value. I really haven't seen a game of this caliber since Skies of Arcadia and this might even surpass it in my overall opinion.

Gameplay (10/10): Valkyria Chronicles utilizes a more strategic turned based mechanic that is easy to get used to after the first few skirmishes. The first thing you noticed is the Command Points system. Each point allows a movement of any type of unit onto the battlefield. However, both the player and the enemy AI is assigned a certain amount of CP's each time before a skirmish forcing you to choose wisely of what units you want to move and attack with. Rather than have units simply moving all over the place and shooting at each other generically, Valkyria Chronicles uses an AP gauge to determine unit movement on the battlefield. Units are broken into certain classes (Such as Shocktroopers, Scouts, Lancers, Snipers, Engineers, and even the mighty behemoth, Tanks), that have restriction of how much they can move based on their AP gauge. This creates an even greater level of strategy as the enemy will surly take every advantage possible when you have a unit frozen in movement without any cover. Surprisingly enough, cover is heavily important within Valkyria Chronicles. Units are better shielded from enemy fire if they are positioned behind walls, trenches, or sandbag barricades. Obviously, if you leave them standing in plain sight, they tend to take more hits because the enemy (and the player's units) will fire on each other during each turn due to automatic range of sight. If you don't finish a enemy unit off in cutting down their HP, they can, (and will likely), counter attack your own. Placement of units within the environment is also key within this game. You could be a true military genius and place snipers on top of buildings to target units half a click away on a map. Or use tanks to demolish any type of temporary barricades to allow your Shocktroopers to storm in. The level of strategy is only limited to the imagination as there are endless way's to complete a mission or skirmish map even with preselected units. Another interesting feature is when, after a turn is executed, the camera switches automatically from the map battle screen to an overhead third person type of view with each type of unit. This grants you a clear vantage point of where the action is during gameplay. Units are broken down into an interesting rock, paper, and scissor dynamic. Unit A might be strong against Unit B but is weak against Unit C. Scouts, Shocktroopers, Snipers, Engineers, Lancers, and even your trusty behemoth Tank Commanders play a vital role during battle. Each unit has a ranged weaponry that is appropriated to their class and while others can even have secondary weaponry when certain circumstances are met.

Valkyria Chronicles has a unique style to show off it's gameplay mode. The entire mechanic is acted out like a book. Chapters contain various cut scenes and skirmish maps to fight upon. Various sections of the book also contain a "recruitment" center of raw recruits to take up the cause for you, an equipment and weapons upgrade feature, training camp, graveyard to learn new abilities for each recruit, personal recruitment profiles, weapons, locations, enemies, and even have an audience chamber with the excellency of Gallia.The level of detail within each section is truly well executed as you can spend a few hours flipping through everything to get some additional background information. Even though you're nicknamed or referred as "Squad 7", with a default number, it is possible to have a full 20 unit roster of units that can be switched around at will. Each of the units have various abilities or potential attributes that make them unique. To go a step further, they can even have certain "relationships" depending if they like what units they are paired with. This could be extremely handy as you could maximize the efficiently of your units on the battlefield with ease. Weapons can be researched and upgraded along with new abilities, outfits, and better weaponry or amour for your tanks. Experience for each unit obviously plays an important role as they tend to have a better chance counter attacking enemies, taking hits, or fighting on the front lines with their weapons. The only drawback is that the maximum level is 20, which, takes a while to get to; though you kind of expected it to be a bit higher for those that truly love to level grind. Each chapter has 1-2 skirmishes that can last you a good 45 minutes to an hour ,which, is refreshing and fun if you want to obtain the highest ranks possible after each mission. You can replay previous missions completed within each chapter as well. There are a total of 19 chapters along with a few bonus report ones that can be purchased or obtained in certain circumstances. Though there is no online mode, it would have really got a higher score (if possible) with players actually battle each other with their units on skirmish maps. Overall, everything looks solid and this is truly what separates Valkyria Chronicles from any other type of SRPG that you have played so far.

Storyline (10/10): As a young commander of Squad 7 Militia, (and the son of a great war hero from the first European War or E.W.I. ), Welkin is assigned various missions to repel the sudden and deadly assault of the Empire, who, is currently in a war with the Federation. Accompanied by a variety of unique characters pulled into duty during time of war, it is you're duty to repel the invasion of the Empire from your homeland of Gallia. However, the Imperial Empire has more than just simple tanks, soldiers, and basic weaponry at their disposal. They have a powerful race called, Valkyria, which litters their ranks as they spill into an all out war. The storyline of Valkyria Chronicles is somewhat basic for new comers and it really isn't that hard to follow if you know nothing of military history or the uncommon similarities of Valkyria Chronicle's version of 1930's Europe and World War 2. Weaponry, outfits, and locations are spot on in terms of an alternate Europe within Valkyria Chronicle that actually make it believable to a certain extent. The cutscenes really tell the story of Welkin's journey as a ordinary teenager or young adult into a promising commander like his father. The only thing that ruins it is some cheesy humor with late delivery of lines though that is somewhat minor in a negative aspect of the storyline. The characters are lovable and you will surprisingly grow attached to them as you progress from the beginning up until the very end. There are a few tearjerkers and some romantic scenes that I'm sure will be plastered into various pair shipping videos on the Internet, sooner or later. But the overall storyline is truly refreshing and enjoyable that will leave you wanting more with each chapter and scene.

Graphics (10/10): Everything from characters, weaponry, environment, and even cut scenes, has a certain cell shade style of animation that you normally would not expect to enjoy. However, Valkyria Chronicles does this extremely well to make it realistic and fun to lo enjoy at the same time. There are certain clippings with characters when they lay prone or are crouching and firing their weapons, though that is somewhat understandable as it occurs with mostly any other game. Otherwise, everything is top notch and I applaud Sega's move on utilizing this type of cell shade animation as the backbone of it's graphics department. Everything is gorgeous to look at and it definitely ranks up on my list of best PS3 games graphically.

Audio (9/10): Recruits and your Squad 7 respond realistically when given orders and during battle against the enemy. I enjoyed how they used various "comic book" style text while you hear guns firing or tanks rumbling across the terrain. Cut scenes are nicely recorded and animated when you view them within each chapter. The music is quite enjoyable to listen to and has a variety of tones that set the mood of each part of the story. The audio can get a bit repetitive though. Characters might say the same thing more than once during battle. However, other than that, it remains solid within this type of game.

Replay Value: (9/10): If there was online multi player, this would probably be a 12/10 if that's even possible on the game score. With the ability to replay chapters again, with all your weapons, character upgrades, and abilities researched, the new game plus option really is refreshing to go through the game numerous times. There is a difficulty selection that you can choose on the skirmish matches to give a challenge. Otherwise, Valkyria Chronicles really has a lot of replay value of just going back to certain chapters and spending hours upon each one with a extremely satisfied grin on your face. Sega really has nailed this game and I would completely look forward to a sequel. Did I mention that there is a small camo reference to Sega's previous critically acclaimed, Skies of Arcadia? Vyse, Aika, and Fina, make their return as recruitable members within your Squad. (Vyse as a Shocktrooper, Aika as a Scout, and Fina, as the Team's Medic) Seeing them in Valkyria Chronicles makes us wonder that Sega hasn't forgot about it's old classic titles.

Conclusion and Final Score (10/10): Valkyria Chronicles truly is a remarkable game to play. I urge everyone to actually buy this and enjoy it to the fullest. I have logged in roughly 54 hours of gameplay time in this and haven't gotten bored yet. Let's hope Sega takes notice and makes a VC 2.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 12/05/08

Game Release: Valkyria Chronicles (US, 11/04/08)

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