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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Impression Review - Valkyria Chronicles II

SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles (also known in Japan as Senjou no Valkyria) was a big success back when it was first launched for the Playstation 3. It introduced a very unique kind of turn-based strategy gameplay never before seen from other games in the same genre. It even got its own anime series, shown a year after the game was released, which boosted its popularity even more.

Now, VC returns for its sequel, Valkyria Chronicles II, though this time for the PSP. It’s now a question if the second installment of the game would work well in a handheld with much less hardware power, and if it’ll still be the same real-time tactical role-playing as its predecessor.

The story of VC II starts 2 years after the events of the original, where a civil war has emerged within the Principality of Gallia. Because of the recent war and its law issues, which prevents the forming of a proper army to fight against the rebels, the government resorts to deploying military academy cadets to the frontlines instead. The story focuses on a new student at the Lanseal Military Academy named Avan Hardins, along with his friends (also newly enrolled) Cossette and Zeri, as well as their classmates in Class G (the bottom feeders of the academy), as they fight to gain a good reputation with the other classes and fulfill their personal motives, and fight the war at the same time.

Some fans of the original VC probably scratched their heads upon learning that game series’ theme mixed school life with the existing war theme. I admit that I prefer a more serious tone in the story than a light-hearted one, BUT that doesn’t mean that VC II’s story just goofs off. Personally, I still find the game’s story very good despite the mood. The idea of incorporating a school is odd but the way they did it is kinda clever. In my opinion, it’s pretty much acceptable.

The overall tactical gameplay is faithful to its predecessor. It still uses VC’s unique battle system called the BLiTZ (or Battle of Live Tactical Zone) system, where, from an overhead map view, selected units will switch to third-person view and can freely move around and take action with a limited number of steps. At first, you might feel confident at being able to breeze through missions with just a few units at hand without much of a strategy, but soon you will realize that the game tends to catch up with you and you’ll definitely end up needing to play strategically and put every unit you have to good use.

The game’s intermission is all found in the academy itself. The academy features various options for leveling-up your unit classes (as opposed to individual units), changing a unit’s class, buying/creating weapons and equipment, vehicle upgrading, and mission selection. You can also see events that drive the story of the game, or just various characters’ side stories. Character-related events can be triggered depending on how much you use the characters in missions. This opens up their back stories and furthers character development of that particular character. Clearing events involving certain characters will improve its relationship to the main character or even to other characters. This could greatly affect the overall performance of characters when used in combat missions.

Missions are broken into several parts and grouped by month. Certain key missions must be cleared to advance further in the game’s story. Even if you’re done, you can always go back and repeat the missions, in case you want to grind up some experience before going to the next objective, or get a chance to improve your unit ranks in certain missions. Same thing also applies to missions that are triggered through character-related events and free missions. 

There are tons of hidden stuff and achievements that you can unlock in the game. There are a number of hidden characters as well. Most of them are characters from the original VC. Certain tasks must be completed to obtain each one of them, or you can just input a password at the Extra menu option of the title screen. Do note that hidden characters are merely extra character sprites for the game and don’t have any relevance to the main story.

VC II greatly impressed me. I easily got hooked with the uniqueness of the battle system and its war-themed story. Although the story may have not been given a more serious tone compared to the original VC, overall it’s okay and personally, I have no major complaints with it. More importantly, it’s still Valkyria Chronicles. If you’re a fan of the original VC, then VC II is highly recommended for you. For gamers who love tactical role-playing games, then you should definitely try VC II as well.

And that’s my first impression of the game. The rest is up to you to find out.

Until then! 

6 blabs:

Raipo said...

VC II (and the series itself) is a breath of fresh air :D Being a fan of tactical games, I give this one my 5-star seal of approval!

Anonymous said...

Very much indeed... it's been a long time since I finally played a good tactical game. There were some but didn't hype me that much.. only Valkyria Chronicles >=D

I'm also very much interested in the story of the Valkyria series. I do hope the story of the series will keep on going. I'm so excited that I can't wait to see Valkyria Chronicles 3: The Unrecorded Chronicles >=D

Raipo said...

i heard VC 3 would deal with a Black Ops groups.

And I like Black Ops hehe.

Anonymous said...

According to the trailer, VC3 goes back in the war happened at VC1. The story will focus to the "penal military unit". Meaning the unit is consist of convicted persons and officers rejected in the military or militia..

Yeah, pretty much they're doing black ops missions. They're doing the most dangerous and dirtiest missions that normal military/militian army would not do. So basically nobody will ever care to them whether they will die/perish in a mission.. the story is really dark and serious.. and I like that! >=D

G.G. said...

Nice blog. Have been search for a good game write-up blog, glad to have found your blog. =)

I plan to get this game on my PSP soon. Love'em the tactical gameplay and the story behind VC.

Jima-san said...

Thanks for the praise, G.G.! You'll have to excuse the blog for temporarily missing updates (due to real life butting in). Expect to have new articles up soon, as everything is sorted out!

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