Release Date: November 4th, 2008
Metacrtic Score: 86
Getting my hands on this was almost as difficult has the game itself. I had wanted to get this game when it came out nearly six years ago, but I couldn’t find a hard copy until a few weeks ago. Normally, this could raise expectations to an unreasonable heights. Luckily, in the ways that truly matter “ Valkyria Chronicles” lives up to the expectations.
The year is 1935 C.E., and war has erupted in Europa. The two major superpowers, the “East Europan Imperial Alliance” and the “Atlantic Federation” are fighting over the all purpose mineral “Ragnite”. Until resonantly Gallia had managed to stay out of the conflict, but the the Imperial Alliance invaded to claim Gallia’s rich Ragnite deposit. You, as Lieutenant Welkin Gunther, are tasked with leading Squad 7 and keeping the Imperials out of Gallia.
The issue here is pacing and structure. The story is structured in as a book detailing the Gallian front of the war, with progress being measured in chapters, and having one battle per chapter. This wouldn’t be an issue, but the game doesn’t just play out the chapters. You have to pick out the part of the chapter you want to go through, the the game asks you if you’re sure you want to go on, the you watch the cut scenes, the do it all over again once that’s done. With how linear the story is, this approach doesn’t make much since. There is only one path to progression, so why can’t the game just play through each chapter, giving you the ability to save before and after each battle? Why do I constantly have to confirm that I want to go on? I bought the game and the single play campaign is the only play mode. I want to play through the story. The story itself isn’t good enough to over look these issues. It’s slow to take off, and until it does the story is only so much set dressing to give context as to why you’re in each battle. The voice acting and script isn’t bad, in fact it’s much better that it is in most other JRP’s. Sadly, that alone doesn’t rise above the the other annoyances.
“Valkyria Chronicles” is the best kind of difficult. It’s the kind of game that will kick your ass, then make you ask, “what did I do wrong?”. Every time one of my people died it was because I didn’t put them in a good position. Sure, with how dumb the AI can be deaths can sometimes feel cheep, but looking back I can’t think of a single time where better planing wouldn’t have helped.
As Lieutenant, it’s your job to pick a squad of 20 people, and deploy a team of 9 per mission. During missions you have a number of “command points”. These command points are used to move each unit around the map. You can move each unit for as long as they have AP. During these fazes each unit can attack once by aiming a circular reticule at an enemy, then hit the x button. You’re attack will land somewhere within that area. The game tell you how many shots you will take and how many have to hit a wherever you’re aiming. This forces you to think strategically, as aiming at the head lowers the number of times you have to hit the enemy, but you have to get closer in order to raise your chances of actually hitting the opponent. Once you’ve used up all the command points you turn in over and the enemy begins. Unfortunately, you can’t skip any part of this, and there turns can take a while.
There are five types of units that you pick from, as well as a tank. Each of the unit types are varied well, creating a “rock paper scissor” that will come naturally to anyone who’s big into strategy games; however, as it is with most console strategy games, it’s more streamlined that games like “Starcraft” or….”Starcraft 2” (i’m not a big fan of the genre, so please forgive me for my ignorance). One of the ways the game streamlines it’s ideas is by making you level up classes instead of the individual and up grades to equipment apply to everyone with the appropriate equipment. While this might not be as in depth as it is in other strategy games, but I found the system to work well, as it allowed me to focus more on troop placement and movement. Even in defeat, all I could do was think about was how to rearrange my troops or how to change up my strategy to make my team more efficient.
I do wish was anything to do outside of combat, however. As the game is set during a war, having some towns to explore would help to establish the weight of the conflict, giving more emotional dept to your actions. But can I fault a game for what it doesn’t do? Can I take away a point for wanting more even though what I got was pretty great? No. I’ll take off half a point.
Game Play: 4.5/5
Music and Sound:
While the game may look like a standard JRPG, it sounds almost nothing like one. As i’ve said, the story takes a long time to get going, so nothing anyone says really means anything, but at lest the voice acting isn’t as melodramatic as it could have been. All the attacks sound just as cartoonish as the visuals look. While nothing anyone says really maters, I can’t recall anyone talking about the importance of friendship, so even if you hate JRPG’s, take solace that you wont have to deal with that.
The Opening theme is rather pleasant, even if it does sound like every WW 2 theme every written. The battle themes kick major ass though. In fact, the music that plays during the defensive faze of battle makes having to sit through your opponents turn worth it.
Music and Sound: 4/5
Overall score: 3.6/5
Who is this game for:
Unless you just cannot stand JRPG’s and strategy games I can recommend this to just about anyone.