Something the PlayStation consoles are known for is the amazing selection of RPGs, but sadly, Sony’s latest console, the PlayStation 3, has been lacking in the RPG department. Many PS3 owners are dying for some RPG action, but luckily Sega WOW, makers of such great RPGs such as Skies of Arcadia and Phantasy Star, brings their latest work to the PlayStation 3. When Valkyria Chronicles was first shown, it looked impressive with its breath-taking art and unique battle system.
Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical role-playing game where the story takes place in the fictional world of Europa 1930s. A war erupts between the Empire and the Federation while Gallia, a neutral country, is positioned in the middle of the conflict. The Empire decides to invade the peaceful country of Gallia due to the rich amount of ragnite, a material useful for healing and making war machinery, but the Gallians aren’t going to let the Empire invade their country.
Players take the role of Welkin Gunther, son of Gallian war hero General Belgen Gunther, who has just returned to his hometown of Bruhl only to discover the town being assaulted by the Empire’s forces. It‘s during this situation where he meets Alicia, a baker and Bruhl’s watchwoman. After the tragic attacks on Bruhl by the Empire, Welkin steps into his father’s shoes and becomes the tank commander of Squad 7 in order to get rid of the Empire from Gallia and restore peace in his homeland.
The story of Valkyria Chronicles is presented in a book called On the Gallian Front, and some of the events are read by a female narrator. Each chapter from the book contains several episodes which can be a cut scene or battle, and each episode is displayed on the page using a black and white image selected from the scene. If the episode is a battle, a battlefield map will be shown. Once an episode is done, you are taken back to the book, and the black and white image turns into a colored image indicating you are done with the episode and time to move on to the next episode. An issue I had with the images is a few of those gave me a hint of what was going to happen later in the chapter and made the twists less shocking. You can’t watch the cut scene again or redo the battle.
For the first few chapters, Valkyria wants you to get to know the main characters before the plot starts to advance. It’s a slow start and quite possibly the weakest part in Valkyria Chronicles, but after the introductions to the plot and characters, the story takes off and becomes a great tale. Basically, it’s a good vs. bad guys war story filled with drama and a little bit of fantasy, but the most interesting aspect of the story was the real life portrayals of Nazi Germany (Empire) and the mistreatment of the Jews (Darcens). While the story is good, the majority of the cut scenes are just showing the character’s head moving around missing the lip-sync and can cause players to get bored and not care about the story. The game is a bit cut scene heavy, but considering how long some battles can be, it isn’t so bad compared to other games.
After a chapter is done, the page turns, and the next chapter immediately starts. There is no world map to explore. The book is the gateway to everything: going to headquarters, reading biographies on characters, reading information on locations and weapons, looking at medals received, etc. These are achievable by selecting the appropriate tab when on the book like selecting on the headquarters tab gives you the opportunity to buy weapons, redesign the tank, recruit new members and level up your characters.
50 different characters are available to recruit, but you can only have 20 at a time. Skies of Arcadia’s very own Vyse and Aika are also available for recruiting. The characters already have their determined class from the start and can’t be changeable meaning if someone is a scout but you want that person to be a shocktrooper, then too bad. 50 characters is a lot, and I know what you’re thinking: How in the world am I going to level up all characters? In Valkyria, characters don’t level up by themselves. Instead, they level up with all other members in the class, so you don’t have to worry about having some characters being over-leveled or under-leveled.
There are five classes you can choose from: lancers, shocktroopers, scouts, engineers and snipers. The lancers have anti-tank lances that are able to take out tanks, and they can also withstand a lot of damage. Their AP, a meter that shows how long a character is able to move, is low, and they move slowly since they carry the big lance. The scouts have the most AP, so they are the ones you want to use if you want to travel to great length. Their rifle deals moderate damage, but their armor is weak and take a lot of damage. The Engineers have the second highest AP, and they are helpful for disarming land mines, restoring ammo to allies, and repairing sandbags and tanks. The engineers use the same rifle as the scouts and also take the same damage as the scouts.
Snipers are useful for long range attacks. They have the lowest AP, so don’t expect to travel at great lengths with them. Their armor is weak just like the scouts and engineers, but their snipers provide a great deal of damage to the enemies and have a better chance at a headshot. The shocktroopers use a sub-machine gun that deals low damage, but their gun shoots the most bullets and is a great way to defend bases. While their AP is low, they can travel fast. Their armor is the second most powerful, so they can withstand a lot of bullets. The tank commander, Welkin, can call for orders for building up the squad’s defense or attack. The tank has a good amount of AP and has numerous attacks to choose from including tank shells or machine guns. Tank shells are useful for battling against tanks while using the tank mortar is a great way to take out a group of soldiers. The tank uses two command points instead of one like all the other squad class. Using each squad class wisely is the key to victory.
Different type of personalities can be found in Valkyria including homosexuals, loners or lazy bums. You can learn more about a character, main or non-main, by various ways. Reports can be bought in headquarters, and these reports are additional chapters that mostly deal with a main character. Biographies from both main and non-main characters can be read on the personnel tab, and after beating a few chapters or reports, the personnel tab gets updated.
Another way to learn about a character’s personality is by their potentials which occur during battles. Potentials reflect on a character’s personality and sometimes give them a positive or negative effect. For example, if a person gets the potential moody, he/she won’t do anything indicating the person is lazy, or if a male gets a potential called likes women, it tells you that he adores the ladies and gets an attack power up effect. This is an exciting and brilliant way to get to know each character considering the overwhelming amount of characters you can choose from. You’ll laugh at some of the potentials and find your favorite non-main characters in Valkyria.
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