Review by thompsontalker7

"Just when you were getting tired of RPGs, this game gives you a reason not to."

Valkyria Chronicles, is a PS3 exclusive RPG/Action game that takes the road less taken by other RPGs by introducing a unique batltle system, called B.L.I.T.Z. (Battle of Live Tactical Zones). If you've played chess, then this should be awfully familiar, although not as boring.

You control your whole squad (usually of 8 soldiers and a tank) across the battlefield, with each unit being used by Command Points (CP). You use up your CP for your units to move in Command Mode, a giant map where you can see all of your squad and most of the enemies that your units can see. But after that, you can directly control units in Action Mode, where you can personally move the unit. To attack with a units weapon, you press R1 to go into target mode, at which point the enemy will not fire at you, so you can pick a body part (usually the head) to fire at. Afterwards, the enemy will usually counterattack on you, so be sure to make your shots count. This leads to many different methods of winning a battle, although you usually have a specific objective to accomplish.

Ok, if you own a PS3, you'll most likely know that until the Final Fantasy games are released next year, the PS3 is suffering from a lack of RPGs, let alone JRPGs. Valkyria Chronicles is different in the fact that while it's an RPG, that's basically where the similarities to other RPGs end. While there's experience points, instead of a single character gaining experience from battling, you can directly distribute exp points to each of your 5 units (Scout, Shocktrooper, Lancer, Engineer, and Sniper), and when they level up, every levels up. Not exactly traditional, but it's better than burning EXP on single characters.

Fortunately, you can still buy upgrades and whatnot, the traditional RPG way. Some things never chaenge. :3 Anyway, there's is enough weapons and weapon upgrades to satsify the weapon-upgrade junkie in me, and once you buy a new weapon or an upgrade, it's mass-produced, allowing everyone in your squad to use it, saving you money. You can even customize your personal tank, Edelweiss, with a variety of parts and upgrades. The parts are represented by blocks that can fit into a 4x3 space. Some blocks are larger than others, so you have to put only the parts you want on it. Now to go through a quick rundown of the individual aspects of the game:

Gameplay: I think it's safe to say that this is one of the hardest games I've played in a while. Though battles are not impossible, let's just say that the will take up some time. For example, there's this one mission, titled "Desert Duel", that took me about 2 hours to complete, and that's when I knew what I was doing. And let's not forget the resets I did. Anyway, this game also has an Easy mode for non-story mode Skirmishes, so newcomers can have an easy time. However, blasting everything in sight usually doesn't work. In the same mission I described earlier, (without giving away any spoilers) you have to destoy a massive tank, but it's not as simple as busting anti-tank missiles at it. You need to wait for the cannon to fire, exposing the radiators, at which time you can then send your troops on top of the tank to lob a grenade in there. Once all are gone, you can then proceed to unleash hell in the form of anti-tank missiles. You'll have to be awfully tactical to win most battles, but you'll get some tips once in a while.

With that being said, this is game has some pretty decent action. There are even some times where cutscenes occur in the middle of battle, usually to point something major out or to announce the arrival of troops. If you enjoy shooters but want to venture into RPGs, or vice versa, you should try this game out. When it's your turn, you can move units, give stat increases or mass commands in the form of orders, or even summon medics to bail out your KO'd troops. But when the enemy's turn comes, you'll be hopeless to watch them attack and maybe KO some of your troops. All this could motivate you to fight harder.

In short, the gameplay is varied, full of action, tactics, and strategy, and is definitely one of the game's strong points.

Story: Ragnite, equivalent to the fuel of all of Europa (fantasy-version of Europe and parts of Asia), is fought for by two major superpowers, The Autocratic East Europan Imperial Alliance (Imperials) on the east and a commonwealth of loosely allied democracies known as the Atlantic Federation on the west. The Imperials thought it was cute to cross their borders in an attempt to capture the Federation's Ragnite, and The Second Europa War breaks out.

The story itself is pretty interesting, although it suffers from sometimes cheesy dialogue. The Darcsens, a race in this game mistrusted because their ancestors were said to almost close to destroying the world, are persecuted in the game, and it doesn't help that the protagonist's adopted sister is Darcsen >_> Come to think of it, where are all the black people in this story? Anyway, the cutscenes are done great, and while there aren't a mass of them, you'll appreciate them when the do show up. The 50 members you can use to make up your squad are all unique, and you'll most likely value them on the battlefield.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/25/09

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

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