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Alexandre Guimond

Valkyria Chronicles Review

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Once in a while, a game comes around and exceeds pretty much every expectation we had prior to its release. Whether it is its innovative nature, or a revisited winning formula, some games are able to blow our minds on pretty much every aspect. The superior nature of a game like that can be attributed to its fantastic graphics, fluid gameplay or plain uniqueness. It’s even harder to achieve such a feat considering that a lot of genres have been refined over and over again. It mostly comes down to the players’ appreciation of the game to canonize it into a “cult status”, yet it’s even more surprising to see that even a complete year after a title’s release, it can still be in high demand. This is mostly caused of course by the fervent motivation of fans to share with the gaming community, how mind-blowing their beloved games really are.

Valkyria Chronicles is exactly that; the game is set in a parallel universe – like if the first and Second World War fused together, and put you in charge of the Netherlands (Gallia) army. It’s not terribly realistic since it is highly inspired by Anime, and many fantastic role-playing games. But, it deals with death, racism, love, friendship, religion, and patriotism; all of which are huge issues in time of war, and in what Valkyria Chronicles nails all outstandingly well.

These issues not only affect Valkyria Chronicles’ storyline, but it also changes gameplay, mainly squad selection, (if a character is not rescued by medics promptly, his death will be permanent). You play as a lieutenant of the Gallian army in control of Squad 7. In this particular squad you have access to many different characters with distinct classes that all play a big role on the battlefield. The key to fulfill each mission is to choose the right combination of characters depending on what is put against you. The maps are various in style, environment and atmosphere (day or night, rainy or sunny).

The game plays like a third-person-shooter, but it also remains geared in the turn-based tactical RPG dogma. This means that you’ll have an overhead map of all the selectable units, as well as the revealed enemies pass the fog of war and for each turn, you will decide whom to move, to boost up or defend. Upon controlling characters, the game zooms in on the battlefield. It then unlocks the shooter aspect giving you free control of your soldiers with certain limitations. Your movements are gauged with a special bar that depletes the further you advance. You can also use an item only once during that character’s turn or shoot an enemy once as well.

Following this, the game returns into the overhead map, and removes a token from your team pool. Each turn has a certain amount of action tokens that permits you to do actions on the battlefield. Tank control and Boosts will break more tokens than regular soldiers. Depending on your performance, you will be granted more action points to progress – one of the few ways to acquire more is to kill key adversaries that will remove some from your opponent. Aside from the combat aspect, you also have access to a plethora of menus in between battles, where you can upgrade your classes via uniform class leveling. The menus can also be used to buy new weapons, armors, and tank parts for your army.

Valkyria Chronicles may seem really simple at first, but it is a brutal game. To who ever dreamed of controlling a squad of Panzer-grenadiers, this is the game for you. Tanks are the center point of pretty much every map and must be defended until the end in order to achieve victory. They are also used a powerful tools on the battlefield.

The gameplay is very solid on itself, but pretty much everything else about it is masterfully executed. The characters have all very human and sympathetic personalities. They are all unique and have special dormant abilities that can be used on the battlefield. Some boys and girls fight better around members of the opposite or the same sex, some have pollen allergies that reduce their aiming or cover. Some characters like to work alone, while others rely on specific comrades to boost their morale up. So, apart from being a very unique tactical war-game; Valkyria Chronicles is able to give a true sentiment of belonging and interest in the entire squad’s rooster. This boosts tremendously players’ conviction to use certain characters from others.

Valkyria Chronicles is much more than another Japanese tactical RPG. It’s a testament of how Japanese video game design is still as strong as ever. The game’s beautiful Anime-styled graphics makes Valkyria Chronicles one of the most gorgeous games of this generation. The gameplay is fluid and the menus are well organized – the mission based storyline is incredible to replay, with many skirmishes and special objectives included as bonus. The story is kind of cheesy mainly due to its very Japanese and Anime archetypes, but it gets the job done. Despite being set in a gorgeous and colorful fantasy world, the ongoing war during the campaign breaks apart squad 7 which makes it all too unsettling. It is a bold experiment on how “happy-happy” games can also touch on serious subjects like racism and death. Valkyria Chronicles is a cult classic in the making, and one of the best games ever made; it’s that good.

Alexandre Guimond
Assistant Editor

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Updated 06-09-10 at 07:04 by SteveSawyer

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  1. garetjax's Avatar
    Great review of a great game! This review brought back a lot of great memories, thanks!!

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