In a market oversaturated by a steady stream of shooters and sports games so unbelievable they need to be released annually to satisfy developer's wallets, it was easy to feel a drought of Strategy and Role-Playing Games on the PlayStation 3 for a while after its debut. Largely undiscovered by myself even after a couple of years of its release in 2008, Valkyria Chronicles was an often gone unnoticed piece of gold under the main stream. It happened to tie together Strategy, Role-Playing and shooting into a truly astounding experience complemented by a beautiful art style and captivating story to deliver a game that is sure to be searched out for by RPG collectors in years to come.
Part of my appeal of Valkyria Chronicles is its fairly easy to follow story with only a few key points of information needed to be stored in memory to understand what is going on. This is pretty refreshing and makes playing Valkyria Chronicles infrequently very practical. Briefly put, Valkyria Chronicles is set in 1930s Europe where 2 major forces are at war for the precious fuel substance known as Ragnite which has the kingdom of Gallia in the crossfire. The story revolves around Squad 7 of Gallia which is commanded by the intellectual nature enthusiast and son of essentially a hero of Gallia: Welkin Gunther. After being caught up in an invasion by Imperial soldiers in the Gallian town of Bruhl, Welkin is forced to take up arms and join forces with the likes of Alicia - a caring and hard working baker, Rosie - a hot headed pub singer and Isara - Welkin's adopted younger sister and engineering prodigy who is of Darscen race. Although fighting is not in Welkin's best interests, he soon becomes an increasingly renowned Tank Commander of Squad 7 in pursuit of taking back what is rightfully belongs to Gallia and ending the war.
There are a fair number of themes throughout the plot but the strongest and best accomplished is racism towards the Darscens and the realisation that these 'dark hairs' as they are referred to are just as human as the rest of Gallia, that their past of annihilating innocent people was not truth and that history often manipulated by the victors of war. It creates a lot of drama and conflict even within Squad 7 as Rosie refuses to cooperate with the Darscen Isara. It simply adds another layer of depth to the strength of the story.
The style of Valkyria Chronicles is what immediately makes itself recognisable amongst the rest of the PS3 games. The whole game is a painting come to life with its strongly watercolour paint influenced character models and environments. The character models also portray the look of anime characters with their large eyes and outlined figures. Whilst the graphics aren't particularly heavy on PS3 resources, they are beautiful none the less.
Valkyria Chronicles is the kind of game you actually get excited to turn back on after your last play to resume your progress with the ability to save at any time. The story is told literally as a story, from a book detailing the events of Squad 7 in the past. The player accesses various sections of the current chapter in the book to activate both compulsory and optional scenes and engage in the operation of the chapter. What is really nice about this approach is that the scenes are kept short, can be replayed as many times as you wish and allows you to save after each scene. The book also has different sections which are tabbed to take you to places such as headquarters where you can configure and kit out your squad and Skirmish battles which are replayed battle missions to help rank up your soldiers.
Pre-battle preparation is a fairly important aspect of Valkyria Chronicles. As the commander of Squad 7, you choose from 50 or so available soldiers of different strengths, weaknesses and friendships and the equipment they use in battle. I've particularly spent hours simply hand picking my squad and fine tuning it to create the team which works best together by choosing team-mates who like each other to give them extra stats on the field. Also making up for the weaknesses of your other soldiers by keeping people in your squad whom are best in different environments such as darkness or country terrain. These soldiers in the barracks all have fixed classes which gives them various statistics. Of course, the reason I spent so much perfecting by squad is because I enjoyed doing so, not because I was forced to. Since each character is different, with different voices and attitudes, it feels like more care is put into your selection and genuine regret if one of your liked squad members dies in the line of duty.
Scouts are natural runners equipped with rifles and are a general use troop which have an eye for spotting enemies at great distances.
Shocktroopers are standard fighting soldiers with machine guns which impairs their running distance.
Lancers are explosive masters with essentially rocket launchers to take down tanks and other heavy machinery.
Engineers are out their to provide support with good healing, ammo replenishing, repairing tanks and disarming mines.
Snipers are the masters of precision with high damage sniper rifles making for a deadly attack from great distances at the expense of being unable to move far in a turn.
All classes typically have certain good points and bad points with the 'potentials' of each character activating under certain circumstances to increase the effectiveness of that character temporarily. Experience gained in battle allows you to level up each class separately, whilst money allows for the creation of new weapons and armour for both your foot soldiers and your tank. I love the flexibility it gives to levelling your troops as the choice is entirely in your own hands.
Now the best part, the operations. Typically battles consist of an objective which can be as simple as capturing the enemy main camp, or have restrictions and limitations such as defeating a large tank without explosives by filtering and blocking its path through a city with your own to create spaces for foot soldier fire. The missions are kept fresh with new equipment whilst allowing you to still make use of strategies and experience you've earned in previous battles. Firstly you choose the 10 characters who will fight in this battle and place them in certain pre-determined nodes on an overhead view of the map. Again this takes careful consideration and is an important aspect of winning any battle.
The actual gameplay itself is very interesting, challenging and great fun! The 2 sides of the battle are split into phases which alternate each turn. The attacking team can move their soldiers and attack, whilst the defending side remains still and fires at oncoming enemies. It pretty much becomes a tower defence game for the side who does not have the turn.
The player chooses from an overhead map the character they want to move. This expends 1 action icon for soldiers and 2 for tanks. Typically the player has a row of these action icons at the start of their turn, these are carried over to the next turn if unused and are also used to request reinforcements, or order troops to increase their defence. Once a character is selected, the camera very nicely pans down to a 3rd person view on the battle field where the player takes control of the character and can run as far as their 'action gauge' allows. Character actions are dependent on class, but in general they can bring up a crosshair to allow the player to aim and fire at an enemy, throw a grenade or heal themselves or others. Firing at enemies next to character's that are friends allows those team-mates to give support fire on the same enemy. Where you run your characters to is very much as important as who you attack, for if you have not crouched behind cover and left yourself open you are bound to be hit hard by the enemy. The main way to progress is to capture enemy camps to get footholds towards the main enemy camp.
The gameplay is definitely different to what I've played before. I like strategy games along with real-time strategy games, but often real-time feels a bit rushed. Valkyria Chronicles sort of blurs the edges of these two together, its real-time action, but you don't have to worry about the enemy moving. It gives you plenty of time to think and plan your moves. I have to say, it can be pretty tough at times. I've found myself restarting battles over and over to tackle the battle with a different strategy. Although unforgiving, Valkyria Chronicles allows you to return to the book-mode as it is known and reconfigure your squad, buy new weapons and even train up in Skirmish mode. You don't have to go saving on multiple saves to be safe that you can get past the current mission. All 50 squad characters feel somewhat individual and genuinely part of a team. Soldiers who lose all their HP in battle are injured and lay on the field until reached by a squad member to call a medic, or for the enemy to reach them and to deliver the final blow and remove the member from your squad forever.
**A few things I didn't like**
During the battle or when deploying your troops, you are unable to get detailed information of the potentials that each character has. This makes for some guesswork as to what each is and makes for a little less tactical placements. It may be handy to have a printed sheet of what each potential is since it isn't covered in the manual.
Some battles could be won by running a scout from one end to the other and capturing the enemy base by using a defence boost order on them. Although this isn't actually a natural thing to do and I didn't even think of it, I've seen it done on youtube videos to achieve fast times.
Snipers can cover the least amount of distance running. Whilst their range makes up for this, it becomes a pain getting the snipers to good vantage points.
Troops crouched behind cover such as sandbags take much less damage. Even if you infiltrate an enemy camp from behind, you cannot hope to kill the enemy fire your weapon in 1. Instead a grenade must be thrown to destroy the cover.
What I do like about Valkyria Chronicles definitely makes up for the minor dislikes I have with it, enough to deserve 5 stars. There is very little loading to be done after the game has been installed, making for seamless action. It also boasts some great replay value with an extra hard mode for those who like the extra challenge. There is also DLC available which I have yet to download but I look forward to buying that adds some extra missions. The story is great, the art work is really nice, the game itself is ridiculously addicting... I'm actually quite surprised there is no multiplayer modes either online or offline. It would make for some fantastic battles but with battles in the single-player lasting often 30 - 60 minutes, it could easily prove a problem when it comes to players quitting early or disconnecting. It has potential for multiplayer, especially local multiplayer, but for online I'm kind of glad it didn't.
Brought to you by Sega's Sega WOW division of development (includes the minds behind the excellent Skies Of Arcadia) Valkyria Chronicles is a strategy role playing game released for the Playstation 3 back in 2008.
Set on the fictional continent of Europa during a huge conflict Valkyria Chronicles is a fantasy take based on World War One and Two, now that might sound odd for a Japanese RPG of any description but when I say "based" and "fantasy" the operative word is definitely fantasy. You follow the story of Welkin Gunther who joins the war effort after his home town of Bruhl is attack. There is more complexity to the story with the culture and history of Europa being unravelled as you go through the game but I don't want to spoil that for you. Welkin isn't alone in his fight as his joined by his adopted sister Isara and Alicia Melchiott, a girl from Bruhl who Welkin meets during the attack as well as a host of other characters in Welkin's squad.
Gameplay really stands out for Valkyria Chronicles when you compare it to other SRPGs and is definitely one of the game's major strengths, if you've played other SRPGs then it may surprise you, Sega have done away with the grid based maps which fans of this genre have become accustomed to and has instead allowed the player to move in real time 3D. Basically like most SRPGs you have to complete a mission which like most SRPGs involves picking a team of characters to send into battle however unlike in other games of this genre you have the ability to run around the map freely in all directions when in control of a character, however just like other games you can only move so far and in this case how many steps you can take is dependent on the character's current AP gauge (think Breath of Fire: Dragon's Quarter or Phantom Brave and you'll know exactly how it works).
It isn't a good idea to take too long with movement though as if you're in the enemy's line of sight you'll receive damage from "inception fire", yes just like in a real war if a solider sees you walking around they will shoot at you and vice versa so be sure to move quickly and take cover when you can. When you choose to attack an aimer will appear and you will be able to choose your target without taking damage as everything pauses (without this you would die a lot... yes an awful lot). There are unit types just as in any SRPG and each has their own strengths and weaknesses, the well balanced scout for example can't stand up to a tank but they can easily handle a lancer who in turn can take out a tank in one hit given the right circumstances, this leads to the old fashioned "rock-paper-scissors" style of unit interaction albeit with more then three options. Coupling the original battle aspects while keeping an old school core means Valkyria Chronicles allows fans of other SRPGs like the superb Fire Emblem series to enjoy the established elements of SRPGs that we enjoy while keeping it fresh.
As far as graphics go Valkyria Chronicles does a very nice job of standing out from the crowd with a colourful style which closely resembles watercolours (it's not quite paintbrush like Okami but is pleasing to look at). Sound is quite nice as it goes, music and sound effects are appropriate and the English voice acting is done well, however the dialogue is at times cheesy, if you're a fan of Japanese RPGs or anime then you probably have encountered the type of cheese I'm talking about (friendship/ love/happiness/lollipops etcetera) so if that turns you off then it may bother you (who doesn't like a little bit of cheese sometimes though?).
The PS3 is lacking in quality exclusives which is one clear reason to buy Valkyria Chronicles, add to that the fact that this is a very good and original strategy role playing game and you have another reason to add this gem to you're collection, if you don't like SRPGs maybe you still should give this a look since it isn't the usual fare, though if you are a die hard "strategy is boring" person or find the idea of a fantasy World War game confusing and irritating then this should probably be given a miss.
At A Glance.
Gameplay ~ 8/10
Story ~ 7/10
Graphics ~ 8/10
Sound ~ 6/10
Replay Value ~ 6/10
Final Score: 35/50
Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical role-playing game produced by SEGA exclusively for the PS3 system.
The game is set in the country of Gallia within the continent of Europa, an alternate version of world war 2 Europe. Gallia is a neutral country in the world war between the East Europan Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation, but suddenly the small peacful nation of Gallia comes under the attack by the powerful East Europan Imperial Alliance.
And so it is here it is that our two main characters Welkin Gunther and Alicia Melchiott are forced to defend their small home town of Bruhl against the invading forces using Welkin's tank the Edelweiss. After this initial battle, Welkin is put in charge of the 7th Squad of the Gallian mitilia and is sent off to engage in a number of skirmishs to push back the invading army.
As with many role playing game, Valkyria Chronicles features a turn-based battle system with each character having their own role within the squad for example, Alicia is a mid-range rifle-toting scout, while Welkin is a tank commander. Other roles within the squad include assault infantry, lancers (specialised anti-tank soldiers), snipers, and engineers. On each turn your squad has a specific amount of AP, which reduces with each soldiers action, with soldiers such as lancers and the tank commander using up more AP than the ther less armoured and more nimble soldiers.
As I'm sure you already know role-playing games are like marmite, you will either love it or hate it, and this goes double with tactical role-playing games which traditionally have been notoriously tricky to get into. However in my opinion, Valkyria Chronicles breaks this mold and is incredibly easy to pick up and play. In addition to this the look of the game, thanks to SEGA's "CANVAS" graphics engine, is one of a moving watercolour painting and is beautiful to look at as well as being suitable to the overall stlye of the game.
Valkyria Chronicles is a game that is the epitome of the term "style over substance"; it is not so smart or particularly involved, but it looks great and is fine for a short, fun play. The plot revolves around one territory attempting to harvest another for their much-needed loot, and an odd racial plot where people are disliked on the basis of their hair colour. Given the anime style, it's not surprising that the plot is stultifingly inane, but it does provide a few unintentional laughs in lieu.
The gameplay mainly consists of taking care of units and leading them into battle, levelling them up as you do so, although the system isn't especially intuitive so you might find yourself quite bored after a few hours of play. The turn-based format really doesn't fit the freneticism they were going for, and so it seems a bit incongruent to be honest. After fights, you'll stock up again, and head out to rinse and repeat this. Also the game balances difficulty very strangely: some earlier levels are insanely hard, whereas the latter portions in particular are a total breeze, but all in all it is a very short game.
Visually, the game is solid and has a unique visual style that befits the anime-esque look they were going for. The backdrops in particular look great, and although the characters are insipid, they are undeniably well designed, even if their voices will irritate you to no end, with some of the most dreadful voice acting I've seen in a game in a while.
It's a foregone conclusion that anime geeks will get a kick out of this: it is mildly diverting although surprisingly lacking in depth and really very simplistic. It is also very idiosyncratic in that Japanese sort of way that can become very irritating.
Valkyria Chronicles is Sega's exclusively developed role playing game for the Playstation 3 console.
The story is about the conflict between the Europan Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation, its pretty much a fantasy spun take on WW2. Our lead character Welkin is caught up in the conflict as the two powers enter his home of Gallia fighting over the country's resources.
He unwittingly becomes leader of Squad 7 and this game follows their adventures. The story is a little cheesy and predictable in places but it is enjoyable journey which will take you at least 20 hours to get through.
The gameplay is an interesting mix of turn based RPG combat, strategic RTS type games and third person shooters. You will be able to customize your squad with different units which all have their own abilities and unique weaponry, like snipers, engineers, scouts and the like. When your turn begins you will take control of a unit and move them around for a limited number of steps like something in Final Fantasy Tactics but it's all done in real time.
Attacking is done in real time too and requires some skill on your part as you will have to take aim at enemies and fire yourself, so if you want enemies to go down you need to be a decent shot! This makes the game really enjoyable to play as it is unlike any other combat system you have
The graphical power of the Playstation 3 is really on show here the game looks stunning, if you have played Eternal Sonata think of that but taken to the next level. Everything looks like it has been hand painted, the detail in this game is amazing everything looks consistently great, you have to see it for yourself.
Sega have done it again, they have produced an excellent RPG with a refreshing combat system, beautiful graphics and good story.
Valkyria Chronicles is yet another one of those titles that seems to fade into the background amidst higher-profile releases, and yet provides an amazing experience for those willing to invest the time.
The game itself is a turn based strategy affair, which is set in a fictional WWII-esque era, with fantastic anime style cel-shaded graphics. You pick your army by hand - you're forced to take one or two characters for story purposes, but the rest is up to you. You can choose from tanks, scouts, assault troops, tankbusters, scouts and engineers to make up your army. You're allotted a certain amount of movement for each unit, at the end of which you can choose to fire at the enemy. After all your actions are used, you move on to the next unit and repeat until you have no turns left. If the enemy still has turns left, they get to attack you. And so on until one side is dead or otherwise defeated. It's unusual these days to see a turn based strategy title at all, let alone one that is so engaging.
There's an RPGish story that carries on throughout, which is good in terms of setting the scene, but bad in that it's delivered as kind of a forced 'option' - the story is presented as though it were chapters in a book, with about one mission per two pages. The rest of the page is taken up by around 5 or 6 story segments which must be watched before the mission can be undertaken. Not a major issue, but it's a bit annoying that you're dropped back to the menu after each section of the game, under the illusion that you have a choice to make, when in reality the only option is to choose more story.
As part of the RPGish nature of the game, you get to keep the characters in your army until the end of the game (or until they die!), and get to upgrade their health, skills and weapons as the game progresses. The system works well, but the downside is you get really attached to your troops! So much so infact that I restarted missions on numerous occasions (hard missions too!) just so I wouldn't lose my favourite or strongest team member.
This brings me to the one other negative point in this game, and that's that there are no ways to save your game, or even reach checkpoints, while in a mission. It's not really something I'd expect to be given, but when some missions take an hour or more, and one false move can result in death, It'd be nice to be able to resume just before your last move, or even about halfway through the mission than right at the beginning. It's something I'd like to see in the inevitable sequel, anyway, since I thought it made the game a bit punishing.
Aside from that though, it's a fantastic, unique game that no PS3 owner should be without.
Valkyria Chronicles is set in a fictitious continent reminiscent of 1930s Europe - divided in two and ruled by the Empire and the Federation. The Empire has set its sights on invading a small neutral country called Gallia, which is situated in the middle of the two great empires. The game follows a hero named Welkin and his fellow soldiers of the FederationÆs 7th Platoon as they engage in a series of epic battles.