Review by Stalolin (Steve Rosenburg)
Reviewed: 02/23/09 | Updated: 02/24/09
Rated C, for brief scenes of cheesiness
Valkyria Chronicles, developed by Sega, is a game about war, and also a little racial prejudice. You take command of Welkin, the leader of a squad of 'rag-tag' soldiers from the Militia in order to fend off the invading army of malicious invaders. Of course he doesn't start that way. He starts off as an average, nature-loving law-abiding citizen who underwent mandatory basic arms training in his home country of Gallia. He's also pretty good at sketching fish. Supplies of Ragnite are running short, and Gallia has an abundance of it. You need Ragnite to power tanks (everybody loves tanks) and other machines. It also has medicinal properties, apparently. Because of Gallia's wealth in terms of Ragnite supply, it soon become the target of rival nations, despite Gallia being this fictional universe's Switzerland.
One thing I sure do love about Valkyria Chronicles is that your squad (and country) is always on the back foot, just being able to survive. You're not the big bad Gallian army. You're the Militia, with only basic training under your belt. You don't take on the main part of your enemy's army, you leave your own army to do that part. Your main job is mainly tactical missions and the like.
Valkyria Chronicles uses turn-based and real-time combat, and forms them together into an unholy fusion of gameplay mechanics. Despite what I said a second ago about the fusion being 'unholy', it's actually pretty neat and innovative. Think Advance Wars meets... some kind of real-time strategy game, I don't know (Possibly some Fire Emblem too). Anyway, you use 'Command Points' to choose a specific unit. You then gain control of said unit and can move them around according to the amount of 'Action Points' your unit has. You can heal, shoot, take cover, whatever.
You need to think carefully when you choose, position and use your soldiers. Each unit has a class. For example, a scout. The quick moving, high Action Points unit armed with a rifle. Then you have other units like the Shocktrooper (with a nifty machine gun), Lancers, which are best armed to fight against tanks (everybody loves tanks). Snipers for... sniping, and Engineers for repairing your tanks (everybody loves tanks). The gameplay has a few RPG-esque elements to it. Like choosing a class to level up and upgrading (and outfitting) your soldiers and tanks. Everybody loves tanks (sorry, I'll stop that now). This can all be done through your Headquarters. This is where you can choose the soldiers in your squad, assign your experience points to certain classes to give them more advantages in battle, and such other things, like seeing which of your soldiers have kicked the bucket.
Each of your people have traits. For example people that they do and don't like. If a certain person likes a certain other person, then putting those units close by will result in a mighty crime-stopping team. There are also 'potentials' to be utilized based on terrain, and other similar factors. Welkin can also use commands to improve the stats of a unit of your choice for a turn. This uses up a Command Point though. Another feature I like is the ability to chop and change your weapons. By defeating certain enemies, you can nick off with their special one-of-a-kind weapons and give them to your own troops.
I quite like the music. It fits right in and makes everything seem cooler. It also makes the battles more atmospheric, I suppose. There are parts of the voice acting I like, and parts I don't like. Most of it is adequate, even though it does lean towards something you'd hear in a bad anime. Not to mention all the exaggerated hand movements and the awfully cheesy dialogue. Another complaint is that you have to click a new screen each time you want to progress the game by viewing another cut scene. Sometimes the cut scenes done in what I guess you would describe as 'real-time' are very good. But then you have the 'cut-scenes' where you get a mugshot of the person who's talking come up on the screen in a box, followed by the next person's box appearing on screen, and so on in that fashion. Character development is all good and well, but some cut-scenes tend to stretch too long, and there are too many of them and you just want to get on the battlefield and blast some ass.
I haven't really made it clear whether or not I like Valkyria Chronicles. The answer is, I do. I think it's a very fun game to burn your hours away on. It has only a few minor flaws and it definitely worth your time. It's also quite long (as are the missions) so it will keep you indoors and out of trouble for a while.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Valkyria Chronicles (US, 11/04/08)
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