Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Valkyria Chronicles 2

Gamespot Score: 8.0 (Great)

My Score: 8.5

(+)Pros: - Same great RPG/strategic turn based combat system with tweaks that don't ruin the experience, - Improved class progression with the addition of a brand new class by itself, - Interesting classmates, each with their own background and side story, - Good new multi-player mode, - Fun story that ramps up to become something epic later on, - Insane amount of content overall.

(-)Cons: - AI STILL pretty incompetent at times (tough some challenging enemies manage to keep the difficulty at a reasonable level), - Maps are pretty much repeated like crazy.

Gameplay time: 40-50 Hours +

Its hard to replicate a game's greatness, except for a sequel of course. "Valkyria Chronicles" was an amazing game, and a sequel only made the franchise grew even further. "Valkyria Chronicles 2" takes everything awesome from the original and puts it into our palms, more specifically, the PSP. Going portable was not a very good idea in my opinion, and I feared the worst when I started my journey for this game...but my fears were quickly wiped away. The core game play is still solid, in fact, a good deal of it has been improved upon. The story still sticks to us, and everything you loved about the original is probably present in here. Whatever anyone says, this game will definitely please you if you already were a "Valkyria Chronicles" fan. As long as you have played the first game, you are good to go.

The story may need a little bit getting used to at the start, since there is quite a difference in direction between this game and its predecessor. You play as Avan Hardins, a regular countryside bumpkin working out his everyday life. He has always looked up to his bigger brother, Leon, who went to Lanseal academy to study and become a proud and successful Gallian soldier. One day, a teacher from the academy visits Avan, telling him that his brother has been killed in combat. Suddenly, rebels, ex-gallians who detest the peace between Gallia and the Empire, attack the area. Avan fends them off with others to help him, and joins Lanseal academy to search for missing information about his brother. There, he joins class G, the lousiest class among all of the Lanseal academy. Can he adapt to life at this academy?

Armor techs, the new class in the game. They are a melee class.

Right off the bat you are going to realize something, the combat system is the same. Its not 100% similar, but the core of it remains in tact, and that is a god send. The good old gameplay from the original is still here and we can all enjoy it once more. You see everything from a map's point of view, and select a unit to command. After that you are moved straight to the field controlling that unit in a third person perspective. You can move that unit as much as you want until its stamina runs out, then you end your turn there. You can perform one action with that unit while you are in control, be it attack, or something else exclusive to that unit. This time however, there are some new tweaks.

First off, the morale system. If this turns 0 you lose (though there are many more ways to lose a fight). Every time a team mate falls on the field, the morale decreases. Whenever a base gets taken, it goes down as well. Put it this way, every time something goes against your squad's favor, it decreases. However, as take down enemies and capture bases, it goes up. Its pretty much give an take, though I must say I have never lost a battle due to reaching 0 morale. Another new feature is the swapping of maps during battle, which can be annoying at first. Instead of one gigantic map as always, this sequel has you fight in multiple inter-linked small ones. By capturing certain bases that serve as paths from one map to the other, you gain access to another map, which some of your other units are or just opening a brand new section to fight in.

Got your back!

Outside of the combat, the class progression system has been improved, by a good deal. Back in the original, leveling up your individual classes will eventually net your soldiers to become veterans. In here, its different. Leveling up your different classes still make them stronger, but instead of just becoming a veteran, your soldiers get to choose between different split paths in that class tree. Engineers can choose to upgrade to a veteran level or to become a brand new class called the anthem corps, while scouts can become veterans or snipers. To further make diversity, at the end of these there are another 2 choices you get from each path, which makes up for a total of 4 end game choices for each class. To make things better, there is a new class in the game called the armor techs, which are a brand new melee class that can tank bullets up front, create covers, remove mines and smash enemy soldiers in, a great new addition to what we already have.

To upgrade your units to these new promotions, you need credits for individual students, and these can be hunted by clearing random skirmish maps. Hunting credits for each individual student seems like a pain, but as you use some of your classmates in combat, you improve your relation with them, opening up cut scenes and stories with each and every one. Each different classmate has a different story to share, and its fun to improve your relationships with them to learn more about their story before reaching a satisfying end to almost each one. Multi-player is also another new feat they put into the game, and its a welcome addition. Basically you get to team up with a friend and each of you put your own units into the mission you guys agreed to do. Both of you share half the CP each, and can assume control of your own units AT the same time. Its always great for some friendly fun together.

Welcome to the worst class, rejects!

The consistent problem of the AI not performing well still comes into play in the sequel. Just like in the original, the enemies walk in circles, don't kill your unit when they have the chance, or just suck completely. They can spend multiple CPs controlling the same guy to have him move to point A, look at your unit, then move to point B, then move back to where he came from, accomplishing totally nothing. Also, lots of the maps are recycled in side content and even for the main story content. You will be seeing the same maps over and over, it eventually gets sick. You can finish most quickly if you are good, but it still gets old pretty quickly as new maps come in slow.

"Valkyria Chronicles 2" is a great and worthy sequel to its already amazing predecessor. It makes changes where it matters while leaving the core gameplay untouched and in tact. Its a fun, challenging strategy RPG  that provides a decent challenge and great story. With so much more characters to love and a lot more optional stuff this time round, the total content the game provides is absolutely massive. Fans of the series will love the sequel for what it is. It is really unfortunate that we won't see the third game localized though. However, there is a translation project in the works! Look out for that.

Happy gaming!