Valkyria Chronicles Review
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Valkyria Chronicles is the JRPG experience that PlayStation 3 owners have been waiting for.
- The cohesive gameplay elements
- The engaging story
- The quality voice acting
- The lack of control during Enemy Phases
Every generation of console has specific titles that define their genre to the truest extent. The original PlayStation had Final Fantasy VII, Star Ocean: The Second Story and Suikoden II. Its older brother, PlayStation 2, had Final Fantasy X, Disgaea and Persona 3. Now, finally, PlayStation 3 has its first defining title within the roleplaying genre - Valkyria Chronicles.
Although it may seem premature to make such a bold statement this early in the console’s lifecycle, it should be apparent to anyone who has played this mammoth epic that it is indeed worthy of such praise.
The story follows the heroic tale of the leader of Squad 7 for the Gallian militia, Lieutenant Welkin Gunther. Gunther, who is the son of a Gallian hero from the first Europan War, is ultimately caught up in a second conflict upon returning to his hometown in the heat of an enemy invasion. Due to the Universal Conscription policy, Welkin is drafted into the militia as a Tank Commander over Squad 7. Serving alongside Gunther is his younger sister, Isara, along with fellow citizen Alicia, who hails from the nearby town of Bruhl. Squad 7’s objective is to drive back the invading Imperial force and return Gallia to the peaceful, yet neutral state it has always taken.
The entire world of Valkyria Chronicles plays out through the storytelling of Irene Koller and her novel, On the Gallian Front. This setting demonstrates the desire to have a story-driven title that will immerse gamers within this fictitious environment. Navigating the book is a simple process that utilizes a “Tab” system to find what you’re looking for. There are tabs designated for the main story as well as your Headquarters, Skirmishes (mini-game), Character Information, Weapon Information, Decorations (Medals) and other various details. Of course, you spend the bulk of your time within the story mode and Headquarter aspects of the title.
Following the main story involves going from section to section of the book and witnessing each part of the story in a visual setting. These take place in three different styles. One involves watching characters in full movement discuss a situation and carefully plan it out while another allows you to watch animated heads talk within squares to help push the story along. Regardless of which type you’re watching, both function efficiently in bringing you into the action and making you feel a part of Squad 7. While some gamers may find it a tad boring to sit through conversation after conversation, it is a lot more entertaining that your standard text bubbles without voice interaction. The third and final style is the strategic gameplay.
Each chapter of the book contains one or two battles that you must fight in order to defeat the Imperial Empire. Before the battle begins, your Captain will give you a layout and a general idea of what is expected within combat. Objectives are then listed and you’re required to meet a certain goal without allowing any of the failing situations to occur. Failing situations generally involve taking no more than 20 turns to win a battle or preventing Gunther from perishing in battle. While these objectives may sound relatively simple, they offer challenging experiences that will result in failure from time to time.
The combat revolves around a strategical, third-person shooter style of play that is rare within SRPGs. Each side is given Command Points that are utilized to take actions within your turn. Certain actions consume more CP than others. For instance, maneuvering around in the tank with Gunther will squander two CP while going in with Alicia as a scout only consumes one. Throughout the battlefield there are locations scattered where players can take cover or utilize flanking possibilities to overwhelm and overtake their enemies. Gunther can also issue out “Orders” from within the tank that can be relayed to specific or all soldiers. These can range from increased defense to accuracy boosts.
One of the larger strategy elements involves the Action Gauge. This is a small meter at the bottom of the screen that displays how far a soldier can maneuver before they’re stuck in one place. Each type of soldier has a different meter amount, making it ... (continued on next page)