Review by gmo7897

"With a new spin on the way RPGs are played, Valkyria Chronicles works for me."

Imagine coming home from your university for a visit only to be arrested by your home town neighborhood watch patrol and then thrust into the throws of battle with no preparations. This is the way Valkyria Chronicles introduces you to the world that is Gallia in central Europa. Valkyria Chronicles introduces an innovative game play system and tells an enthralling story as you, as Welkin Gunter, lead your squad into battle against the mighty Army of the Eastern Empire.

Gameplay: Valkyria Chronicles is a one-player game, which gameplay is a fresh take on several genres of games. It has the fell of a turn-based Role-Playing Game, as you control your team in almost all stages of combat. The game could also be considered a strategy game, as it forces the player to plot out strategies in advance, making them be sure that they are ready for both offensive and defensive maneuvers. The main aspect of combat takes a page out of the First-Person Shooter book.

Early in the game you are introduced to the basics of the Valkyria Chronicles battlefield. There are two screens you must worry about to effectively lead your squad to victory - the Command Screen and the Action Screen. You lead your squad's every movement. As their leader, you are given Command Points and Ability Points. Command Points are used on the Command Screen to select which troops you move. Once you have used a Command Point to select a member of your squad, the game switches to the Action Screen. Once on the Action Screen, you have the ability to move your team members across the battlefield. Moving troops cost them Ability Points. After you've exhausted your Ability Points, you continue to choose your next moves with the remaining Command Points.

Any time during your turn, you may choose to do one “action”. Actions include, firing your weapon, using your Ragnite container to heal yourself or an ally and fixing a tank (engineers only). When you choose to act, the camera will move directly over your shoulder, and cross-hairs or an aiming circle will appear. While you're aiming, the enemy will not be able to fire at you, but if you do not kill the enemy with your fire, most enemies will have an opportunity to return fire. Head shots can do “critical damage” if the target is not protected.

At the end of every mission, you will be “graded” on your performance. The grading system is probably the only thing about the game play that would've been nice had it been different. The only criteria for scoring high ranks for your missions is to get the battles done quickly. Experience and money (dct in this game) is awarded for better grades, and leveling up your party and purchasing upgrades to your equipment is done with the experience and money you receive from battle.

As you gain experience, you can use the gained experience at the training center at Randgriz. At the training center, you advance your troops through the levels. Levels can unlock potentials to be used on the battlefield and orders that can be given. After Scouts, Shocktroopers and Lancers reach a certain levell, they also gain access to grenade launchers, flame throwers and mortars respectively. Your units level as classes - not individuals.

The Classes of Your Characters: Valkyria Chronicles uses five classes of soldiers with which you build your squad. The classes are Scout, Shocktrooper, Lancer, Engineer and Sniper. Each class has its strengths and weaknesses.

Scouts are good at seeing enemies from far away. They're quick and agile, and they can run for a long distance before tiring. They give up powerful weapons and strong armor, though.

Shocktroopers are great for firepower. They provide strong cover fire on defense and an impressive volley of attack from an offensive standpoint. They don't move nearly as far or as quickly as Scouts, but they have stronger defenses. Their main fallback is their accuracy with their machine guns.

Lancers are tank killers. They shoot shoulder-fired rockets which (when aimed properly) can take out most tanks in one shot. However, lancers run about as fast as glaciers and can't go very far without stopping. They also have a limited supply of ammunition. Accuracy is also a problem for Lancers
Engineers are probably this game's unsung heroes. They are not very good at offense, but they have the abilities to refill your tanks and Lancers ammo. They can repair sandbags (which comes in handy in some missions) and can disarm land mines (almost a necessity in a few missions). They have the ability to repair your tanks on the battlefield, and they can restore more HP to your squad members than anyone else. They have the second best range of any of the members you can recruit for your squad. Their fire power and defensive abilities are lacking, however.

Snipers shouldn't need a lot of explanation. Their accuracy and range of fire is un-matched. However, they also have limited ammunition supply, and they cannot move very far per turn. Left in the open, Snipers will have a hard time surviving, since they have very low defense.

Game play rating: A solid 9/10

Story: Valkyria Chronicles's story is among the top stories I've seen in a while, and it rivals some of the great RPG stories of all time. The story is told in book format. As you progress through the story, you advance the story as told by an unknown narrator, turning the pages of history.

The game opens with an account of the Eastern Europa Empire invading the Western Europa Federation. Caught in the middle of the Second Europan War is the small, independent country of Gallia. Gallia holds large deposits of Ragnite, a valuable energy source, for which the Empire is searching.

The game chronicles the son of a war-hero general, Welkin Gunter as he finds himself being thrust into the realm of combat in defense of Gallia. He is a college student returning to his home town of Bruhl from university on vacation when he stops at a stream to draw some pictures. Soon, he is held up by the town watch and arrested. Gunter soon joins the town watch and their leader, Alicia Melchiot, as Imperial troops invade his home town.

As the story continues, Gunter and Melchiot leave Bruhl to journey to the Gallian capital city of Randgriz. There, they enlist into the nation's militia force. You soon meet the other key members of your squad. Bridgette “Rosie” Starks, your top Shocktrooper; and Largo Porter, a grizzled war veteran Lancer; Melchiot and Gunter make up your squad's leadership team.

You will also be able to recruit up to twenty squad members from a cast of about fifty, and each character has their own story which unfolds as you progress through the game in a beautiful way.

There are plenty of times to laugh and a few times to cry as you progress through the story. The writers did a great job conveying the true feel of combat on both fronts.

The story is fairly linear, though, but it is a game about combat. And, combat honestly doesn't allow for much side activity.

Story rating: Easily 10/10

Graphics: The graphics in this game really shine. Though it's only viewable up to 720p, it uses a cell-shading-style of artistry to convey the “story-book” feel of the game. Each motion is carefully designed, and the characters are believable.

Each scene of the story either has a full cinematic action view for some of the more important story lines, or it has a scene showing a background and the characters faces popping up to speak.

Graphics rating: 9/10

Sound/Music: Again, the musical score of this game is phenomenal. The music truly sets the mood any time it plays, and there's even a song performed by one of your characters that's absolutely beautiful.

The voice acting is very well done. I cannot think of any moments where the dialog dragged along. It seemed to flow very well, and it had a natural feel to it. Every player character of the fifty you can choose from has their own voice and personality. They all have something different to say when you recruit them and when you let them go. They also all have different phrases they use on the battlefield.

At times, the speech during the missions will get a little repetitive and a little corny, but that's easy to over-look.

Sound/Music rating: 10/10

Play Time/Replayability: On your first play through, if you're not doing the optional skirmish battles over and over again, the game will probably take about 35-40 hours of solid playtime. However, after you complete the story, a “New Game Plus” option opens up for you. With the New Game Plus, you maintain your weapons, equipment and levels that you've acquired through your first run, and you'll open new story elements, characters and other awards. It's easy to figure that trying to accomplish everything this game has to offer could take three or four run throughs.

Each character has a subtle story that is told in the character section of the “Book”. Every time you advance your characters throughout their journey, new portions of their story opens up to you.

It is also recommended that you don't worry about gaining the top ranks for your missions your first time through, since you can re-visit each battle as many times as you would like on your sub-sequent replays.

After completing everything the game has to offer, I played the game again from the beginning, just so I could see everything again and live the story again, trying to gain as much from the game as possible.

Play Time/Replayability rating: 10/10

Final Recommendation: This game was not the reason for buying a Playstation3. I bought that, so I would be able to get Final Fantasy XIII when it came out (before it was announced it would be on two platforms). However, this was the first game I bought for my Playstation3, and I'm glad I did. It is a revolutionary RPG that has me wanting more. I look forward to the sequel (only going to be available on PSP) and hopefully another sequel after that.

Final rating: A low 10/10. A true beauty of a game.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 03/02/10

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

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