Review by runningidiot

Reviewed: 04/06/09

Squad 7! Move out!

“Squad 7! Move out!”

The whole concept of the “RPG” seems to have died away with titles like Wow and Fallout 3 running amok on the world stage whereas titles like this one get unnoticed. I remember when I first heard about Valkyria Chronicles and played the demo. To say the least, I was fairly impressed by it. And when the game actually came out, I was not disappointed at all.

Story 9/10 because of cliches
The story is the one and only staple to the game. Bad graphics I can handle. Bad gameplay will piss me off, but if the plot is interesting, intriguing and all those other good adjectives, then I can deal with it. VC delivers a magnificently drawn story with one of the longest and most drawn out games I’ve played in awhile. The game takes place in a country called “Europa” (which is not Europe) where there’s a war between two major super powers fighting over an awesomely powerful and efficient resource called ragnite (which is definitely not oil). Some would criticise this, calling it “unoriginal,” but I found it only made it easier to adapt and relate to the game. What with WWII’s history shoved down our thoughts during classes, movies, articles, documentaries, music videos and all other forms of media. But you don’t play as either of the super powers. In fact, you’re little Gallia, squashed in the middle between these two massive nations. From Gallia, you fight for sheer survival. The story has mixed elements in it. At the beginning, it’s all about fighting for freedom and only killing because you want to return to your wife and kids. Then as you proceed further, it’s about racism, and the Darcsen (black haired discriminated people) calamity. Then at the end of the game, it’s about the Valkyria, an ancient race who apparently have rewritten history in their favour (I hope that didn’t give away any spoilers). While summarizing the story like this makes it sound more like a timeline then a game, SEGA’s writers do such a good job transitioning from every plot that you really don’t notice the random changes in themes and whatnot. I have to admit that there are quite a few cliches, and points when I wish the characters would just shut up (Alicia and Welkin come to mind), but all of the characters really grow on you. And unlike most RPGs, which star a silent protagonist, I actually got a feel for the characters and felt like I was best friends with them (I’m a very lonely guy apparently).

Gameplay 10/10 for sheer simplicity and yet constant head throbbing missions
You play as a nature loving tank commander, Welkin Gunther and have to command a Squad of 20 soldiers of your choosing (except for the story restricted ones of course). There are scouts, light fighters with great manoeuvrability, shocktroopers with great attack and defensive power, lancers with anti-tank rocket launchers, engineers with plentiful ammo and repairing tools and snipers with longggg range rifles of course. And every one of the classes is essential to balancing your team. I hate calling this a SRPG, because VC has so many other elements of other genres. It has action, it has story, it has player phases and enemy phases and it has strategy. So I’m just going to call it an RPG. To command your soldiers, you spend Command Points to actually take control of your troops and run around with them, making them do your bidding whether it be lobbing a grenade at an enemy officer, or repairing your burning Edelweiss (your main tank). While walking around with your dude, you have a limited amount of AP (Action points I think...) which is a long orange meter that drains every time you move, therefore limiting your actions. There, you’ve basically learnt how to play the game. Of course, this game is very easy to learn, but very hard to master. Like any RPG, you need levelling up and stores. In VC, you level up your troops as a class (put 921384 exp points into Scouts and all your Scouts gain a level). I thought this was a refreshing change from games like Fire Emblem where you have to level up specific units and they gain random stats based on growths, but that’s another game so I’m not going to go into depth for that! There are a bunch of lag times that get frustrating from time to time and the third person camera (while I love third person to no end, I do know its flaws) can lag behind or turn randomly, but you learn to adapt to them quickly. After you beat the game you unlock New Game+, which is just running through the game on exceptionally easy mode. But to compensate, you get the HARD skirmishes, which are not just hard, they’re on the point of being outright ridiculous. But besides that, there’s no real replay value, as with most RPGs.

Graphics and Design 10/10 Superb character models and art make the game a spectacle to look at
I have to first point out that the character design is absolutely amazing. Rosie looks uptight, Alicia looks loveable and Maximillian looks like he’s out to get the world. The uniforms every Gallian soldier wears is the same, and yet the look never gets boring, as you would get if you had to wear the same shirt everyday of your life. You’re first introduced to the unique art style of the game when you watch the intro (if you’re like me and ACTUALLY do that) where it starts off as a blank screen, and slowly lines are drawn, then the magnificent water colours and shade are added in and then the tank (which is what was being drawn) begins to move. This game won, in the Gamespot 2008 awards, best art design for a reason.

Sound and Music 10/10 What every game (not just RPGs) should strive for
I’m the type who really listens for the music (I even have quite a few video game songs on my ipod) and according to other reviews I’ve read of this game, most did not think much of the soundtrack. Personally, I think it’s better than Mozart. Every time you move to a different location, you get another battle theme which will have you whistling the melody in no time. And the theme after you finish the prologue gave me goose bumps (not that it was scary, but rather breathtaking). The voice acting is top notch, and if you’ve played a Tales game or two, you’re bound to recognize a couple of the voice actors. Each one is suitable to his/her character, with the exception of General Damon. Luckily, he’s not too important, and of course, it can’t be perfect.

Overall: 9.5/10
It saddens me greatly that a game like this doesn’t impact the gaming community with its North American November release. I greatly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a good book (because this game is, essentially, a book) or a good RPG, because games like this don’t come often, especially with all the shooters these days. I personally spent more time playing this game then on KZ2 or MGS4, but that’s just me, even without the great replay value. It’s a good 40+ hours to beat the game, so it is worth the money!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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

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