Friday, January 16, 2009

Valkyria Chronicals review

Valkyria Chronicals is a JRPG from SEGA. I got a chance to play the demo and I was very impressed, so I advised Mr. Claus' liason in the US that I wanted it.
Let me begin by stating the game is gorgeous, the "canvas" graphics engine truly makes the hand drawn artwork jump to life, it's like a water color paiting in motion, the fluidity of the artwork must be seen to be appreciated.
Valkyria Chronicals takes place in 1930's Europa at the onset of the second Europan War. The game chronicals the story of the members of Squad 7 of the Gallian miltia and their battle against the Imperial Army and their invasion of Gallia for the precious Ragnite ore. Gallia is a small county nestled between the Imperial Federation (think Nazi Germany) and the Atlantic Federation (think Allied countries). Valkyria Chronicals is a JTRPG but it uses a unique battle system called BLiTZ (Battle of Live Tactical Zone). The basic Strategy RPG elements are there, movement restrictions based on the character types such as scouts, shock troopers, snipers, lancers, and engineers, CP (command pts.) which tell you how many times you can use your squad members AP (action pts.) which show how far each squad member can move, this is shown by a meter that drains as you move the member. You learn quickly not to just move characters arbitrarily but to find cover, which bring up the third person shooter aspect, you actually move the character around a 3D map and shoot, throw nades and deactivate landmines in real time. As with most JTRPG's there is a wealth of characters and in Valkyria Chronicals you command a squad of twenty members with a vast amount of fresh recruits to customize your squad with. Not only is each character unique in description but they're each is has it's own unique and well done voice acting that further adds to the individuality and quirkiness of their persona. The main cast is extremely likeable and each adds another layer of depth to the story and the multiple sub plots going on during the story.

Welkin Gunther, Son of General Belgen Gunther, hero of the first Europan war, meets Alicia during the empires attack on Bruhl and the two join the Gallia military and are assigned to Squad 7. Welkin loves nature and uses his knowledge of wildlife to lead Squad 7. He stands up for his sister Isara whenever she is harassed because of her Darcen bloodline.

Alicia Melchiott, A member of the Bruhl town watch, and an apprentice at the local bakery. She mistakes Welkin for an Imperial spy at first, but the two join the Gallia militia and are assigned to squad 7.

Isara Gunther, A Darcen by birth she is the daughter of professor Theimer, after his death she was adopted by Welkins family. She is a gifted engineer, like her father, and thru her efforts helped squad 7 overcome difficult missions like the Marberry beach assault.

Brigitte "Rosie" Stark, A former bar tender and singer, now a corporal in squad 7 and friends with Largo Potter. Rosie has a huge bias against Darcens and thus gives Isara a very hard time thruout the story until the tragety at Fouzen.

Largo Potter a lancer in Squad 7 and good friends with Rosie, he served in EW1 and now is a sergeant in EWII.
Squad 7 consists of those five "main" characters as well as fifteen other members of your choice. Choosing the right characters to put into squad 7 is another aspect to be mindful of, there is a list of reserves to choose from; scouts, shocktroopers, lancers, snipers, and engineers. It's also important to be mindful of their relationships with other squad members, not everyone likes each other or works well in certain conditions. Always pick the right members for the mission, having squad 7 with 20 scouts that don't like each other....not recomended. Valkyria Chronicals menu is accessed thru a book, chapters are recorded thru this book and within these pages are other sections such as the Headquarters tab. When up access the HQ tab there is sub sections for Squad Barracks, this is where you can review squad member details and can upgrade equipment. Command Room, this is where you can choose/swap out squad 7 members with new recruits. Training Field, this is where you level up the 5 different classes in squad 7 by spending your EXP. R&D Facility, this is where you spend your DCT ($$$) to upgrade weapons and equipment including the Edelweiss.
Other sections in the Headquarters tab are Castlefront St where Ms. Ellet works at The Writing on the Wall where this journalist chronicals the heroic actions of squad 7 in the Gallian Tribune. The War Cemetary where an old man will teach you new commands for a price. The Audience Hall where Princess Cordelia awards Welkin with metals of honor after completing a mission.
Other tabs in the book are Skirmishes, this is where you can gain extra exp and dct by replaying previous battles. Personnel this is where characters info is udated as you progress thru the game. Weaponry info on all weapons aqcuired throughout the game, and the Glossary. Valkyria is a fantastic game visually, the gameplay is solid and well designed, the story and characters are top notch...I liked Welkin, and Alicia a hell of alot more than Vaan and Penelo from FFXII! Each of the main characters are well designed and have multiple layers that add complexity and add to the depth of the game. Valkyria Chronicals deals with the subjects of love, loss, racism, nationalism and humanity all to the back drop of an alternate version of WWII in Europe. A fantastic addition to the PS3 library, unforunately with the US addiction to FPS, Valkyria Chronicals is a gem that will be overlooked by most. If you enjoy the game be sure to check out the upcoming anime, the link is below.

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