Valkyria Chronicles


By: Sherrin English    On: PlayStation 3
Published: Wednesday 19 Nov 2008 10:00 AM
 
 
 
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Valkyria Chronicles is an RPG that’s not an RPG – if that makes any sense. Actually, it’s more a mix of genres all rolled into one: Turn-based, real-time, RPG, Action, Strategy, First-person Shooter and War Tactics. Never the less, whatever genre you feel happy squashing Valkyria Chronicles into it’s still a good game. No. It’s a great game!

The first thing you notice about Valkyria Chronicles is the graphics. As trite as that sounds, it’s true. The mixture of pencil sketching, cell-shading and water colour painting results in soft, muted colours that are visually stunning and, oddly, fit well with the, often violent, on-screen action. What I did find a little strange though was the almost total absence of blood, given that it’s a war game. That aside, Valkyria Chronicles is captivatingly beautiful.

Valkyria Chronicles is set in a world startlingly similar to our own. The year is 1935 and the setting is the neutral country of Gallia, which is set between two super-powers, the Atlantic Federation and the East European Imperial Alliance, who are battling over ragnite – a mineral that can be used for everything from fuel to medicine, and is exceedingly scarce. When the game begins the Imperial Alliance is poised to invade Gallia, which is ragnite rich. The Imperial Alliance’s initial push into Gallia serves as the tutorial and the first chapter. ‘Chapter’ isn’t just an aptly used description because the game actually plays out on the pages of the book ‘On the Gallian Front.’ So in effect, the war has already been fought and is in the past. A novel concept and a nice twist. And before you think about asking, no, you can’t look ahead to see what happens.

The Hero, Welkin Gunther, is drawn into the war when he returns from the university where he is studying Animal Sociology to his hometown to help his sister, Isara, evacuate before the war. As soon as he arrives Welken is apprehended as a spy by the game’s other principal character, Alicia Melchiott, when she finds him sitting beside a stream writing in a small notebook. When it’s realised he is the son of a renown army commander and that he was sketching fish rather than penning coded information Alicia releases him and then gives him a gun to help fight the enemy soldiers that have been spotted nearby.

The initial combat tutorial gives you a good grounding and is reasonably simple. To begin you enter the Command Mode, which is actually a bird’s eye view of the battleground showing where your troops and the enemy troops are situated. Each force has a set number of Command Points, and it costs One CP to move a unit into the designated place – preferably behind adequate cover. When you ‘spend’ the CP and move the unit – in the tutorial it’s Welkin, Alicia or one of the guards that ‘captured’ you – the camera returns to the ground and Action Mode begins. AM is where the unit/character moves to the targeted area in real-time. Movement is limited by the AP Gauge (Action Point) which is shown as a bar along the bottom of the screen that steadily decreases as you move into place. Once there you enter the Target Mode where you take aim and then open fire. Fortunately the action pauses while you take aim, because up until that moment the enemy can, and will, fire at you. When you fire you can choose head shots, with more risk but more chace to kill outright, or you can choose body shots which takes a little longer for a kill but has more chance of hitting the enemy. Once you have fired your volley of shots the enemy gets his turn to open fire on you.

Valkyria Chronicles is more flexible and allows for more choices than the average war game because your Command Points can be used however you wish. For instance, rather than using each unit one after the other you could choose to move one unit two, or even, three times, allowing him to move into position, take aim and fire and then move out of harm’s way. And if you don’t use all your CP’s they will carry over to the next battle, giving you more options. You can also stockpile them for use later in the game when the going gets really tough.

As the game progresses units gain members and consists of various classes of military: scouts, snipers, engineers and assault troops. Each class is allotted different amounts of APs (Actions Points) and therefore have different rates of mobility, in order to balance this some troops have more powerful attacks. For example scouts have high mobility but their attacks are relatively weak, snipers have low mobility but their attacks are strong. The different types of units make up a rock-paper-scissors dynamic. For example: tanks are more powerful than infantry, infantry is more powerful than anti-tank units, and anti-tanks units are more powerful than tanks.

It’s not all plain sailing in Valkyria Chronicles because sometimes your characters will die. Unlike other games though, once a character is dead, they stay dead. That doesn’t mean, however, that as soon as a character hits the dirt on the battlefield that they will immediately die. If another character can reach the character within three turns a medic will arrive and remove the injured soldier to a safe place. If, however, an enemy reaches the downed character within three turns he/she will die. On the down side, Valkyria Chronicles’ AI could have done with a tweak as seems more ‘magic’ than skill directing the bullets, or the enemy will waste Command Points on manoeuvres that have been shown not to work. And occasionally the enemy will move a unit forward and then back for no apparent reason.

The lead characters in Valkyria Chronicles are always the most important, but every other character has his/her own face, voice and personality, and as such they have their own foibles. A character will receive a stat boost when he/she is in the same unit as someone who compliments their personality. For example, a male soldier who is a ‘ladies’ man’ will receive a stat boost whenever he is near female soldiers. There are gay soldiers, racist soldiers, angry soldiers, in fact the very kinds of soldiers that make up a real live military, and with the inherent troubles they bring. While the game doesn’t punish you for not taking notice of the members of your squad it will reward you if you do.

On the whole, although Valkyria Chronicles is an excellent game and it gets better the more attention you pay and the deeper you go. Hitoshi Sakimoto’s soundtrack is, of course brilliant. And although the voice acting is above average the sound effects could have been more varied and a little better quality. The graphics, as I’ve already said, are truly fabulous and although I never felt as though I was in an actual war, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.


The Score

Valkyria Chronicles
"Even if you loose the war you’ll win the game."
8.0
Great
Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 15 Min

 

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Comments (15)

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KravenMore
On Wednesday 19 Nov 2008 10:25 AM Posted by KravenMore
Sounds intriguing. Will have to find some vids me thinks
Good review too!
 
 
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Lisa3x3x3
On Wednesday 19 Nov 2008 11:56 AM Posted by Lisa3x3x3
is this going to be like the other Valkyria (something something) games??
 
 
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itachi
On Wednesday 19 Nov 2008 12:55 PM Posted by itachi
Got this on day one, still playing and loving.
 
 
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cute_maori
On Wednesday 19 Nov 2008 3:59 PM Posted by cute_maori
Sounds pretty cool, trailer looks awesome.
 
 
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Trigun
On Wednesday 19 Nov 2008 5:10 PM Posted by Trigun
19 November 2008, 11:56 AM Reply to Lisa3x3x3
is this going to be like the other Valkyria (something something) games??
No this is completely different. What you're thinking of is Valkyrie (something something).

Highly recommend this game, good tactical fun except when tank shells don't explode...
 
 
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Koopa18
On Wednesday 19 Nov 2008 9:13 PM Posted by Koopa18 NZGamer.com VIP
Sounds sorta like Advance Wars/Battalion Wars.

Only in RPG form!
 
 
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Ruptunex
On Thursday 20 Nov 2008 4:28 PM Posted by Ruptunex NZGamer.com VIP
So what If your main character dies? Game over? I played the demo and didn't like it at all.
 
 
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Lisa3x3x3
On Thursday 20 Nov 2008 8:11 PM Posted by Lisa3x3x3
20 November 2008, 04:28 PM Reply to Ruptunex
So what If your main character dies? Game over? I played the demo and didn't like it at all.
thats generally what happends in most games isnt it??
game over if you die? lol
 
 
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kaz
On Thursday 20 Nov 2008 10:54 PM Posted by kaz
sound all good 2 me, mite rent it first
 
 
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that_black_guy
On Thursday 20 Nov 2008 11:27 PM Posted by that_black_guy
I enjoyed the demo, but I felt the classes were imbalanced, I basically killed all the enemies with the sniper. I know it's just a demo, I'm looking to rent 1st

Good to see SEGA making a half-decent game again. Been too long
 
 
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itachi
On Friday 21 Nov 2008 9:10 AM Posted by itachi
20 November 2008, 04:28 PM Reply to Ruptunex
So what If your main character dies? Game over? I played the demo and didn't like it at all.
Yep Game over if that happens, although he drives a tank so you have to be pretty bad to fail that way.
 
 
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littleboyl33t
On Friday 21 Nov 2008 2:00 PM Posted by littleboyl33t
I just nought the game, ill make a review in no time. :D

I <3 reviewing. LAWL
 
 
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Gazza22
On Monday 24 Nov 2008 11:19 AM Posted by Gazza22 NZGamer.com VIP
21 November 2008, 02:00 PM Reply to littleboyl33t
I just nought the game, ill make a review in no time. :D

I <3 reviewing. LAWL
Dont ya mean "copying and pasteing"?
 
 
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Munkah
On Saturday 10 Jan 2009 9:05 AM Posted by Munkah NZGamer.com VIP
19 November 2008, 03:59 PM Reply to cute_maori
Sounds pretty cool, trailer looks awesome.
There was no trailer...
 
 
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Bank
On Thursday 11 Apr 2013 7:27 PM Posted by Bank NZGamer.com VIP
After 5 years still the best find I made on PS3.
 
 
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