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Review: Valkyria Chonicles
By Chris

I’m going to point out that I’m writing this review while listening to ABBA’s Greatest Hits, Volume 2.  It wasn’t my choice and I don’t know why it’s relevant but it’s a fact that I thought you should be aware of.

When Valkyria Chronicles first came out a while back, it was very much under my radar.  I’m not a huge player of games from the far east, although when I do play them I usually enjoy them.  Also, the game has an entirely forgettable, generic name.  Valkyria Chornicles, Valhalla Knights, Virtua Tennis…who can keep track?  Ok, maybe I’m being a little ridiculous.  Still, it was as though I could go my whole life without seeing so much as a screen shot from Valkyria Chronicles without caring.

Then I started noticing various people in my friends list playing it.  Not only were they playing it, they were playing it a lot.  I decided to finally look into the game on these here internets.  Then I noticed the magical word in a description of the game.  A word I love so much and is so despised by my better half.  Tactics.

I’m a sucker for tactics games.  Julie has been duped into playing the odd tactics-style game cloaked as something more, be it a game in the Heroes of Might and Magic series or even one of her all-time favourites, Eternal Sonata.  Look deep into your heart, Julie, and know what I’m saying is true.

Focusing now, the game is about a troop of militiamen who are enlisted to help defend their homeland from an invading imperialist force.  The story doesn’t break any new ground nor does the gameplay.  It’s pretty standard fare: troop classes, choosing squad members, turn based combat…it’s all in there.  While it might sound like I’m dumping on the game for being generic, it actually pulls off all these elements, and obviously many more, very competently.

The gameplay also gets one important thing right: difficulty.  I found myself needing to use a good deal of planning to successfully battle through a level but rarely, if ever, did I ever think to myself  ‘those jerks at Sega made this impossible!’.  There were no moments of random enemy advantages, where they become instantly powered up without warrant; the kind of event that makes you want to hurl your controller towards/through the closest surface.

There is something pretty special about this game and I think I have narrowed it down to the art style.

As you can see, the colours are somewhat simplified but rich.  I especially like the almost ‘sketched’ overlay that is visible throughout the game.  It adds  a definite uniqueness to the graphics.

Finally, in perhaps my most glowing endorsement of the game, I borrowed the game from someone.  OK, that’s not the complimentary part.  I did, however, purchase the two downloadable content levels for the game…a game I don’t even own.  That’s how much I still wanted to keep playing it after logging well over 50 hours in the original game.

Boo tactics.  While I’m always drawn to games with amazing art (I watched several cut scenes from VC, just for the sketchy shading), and anything that allows you to experience the original Japanese dialog with subtitles gets major kudos from my corner, I do not like tactics games.  While I have been known to enjoy the occasional RPG with tactical elements (Eternal Sonata), or Turn-Based Strategy with tactical battles (HOMM), a game that is based solely on tactics holds no appeal.   For me, it’s like salt.  A little salt can really bring out the flavours of a great dish, but you won’t catch me eating a pile of it by the spoonful.  My disinterest is compounded when dragons and magic are removed, leaving only guns and tanks.  Boooooring.

In closing, ABBA is awesome.
6 Comments • Comments RSSTrackBack URI
  1. Rob
    2009-10-15 9:43

    Chris, you should really download Final Fantasy Tactics if you haven’t played it yet. One of the best storylines of any RPG hands down. Oh, did I mention it has Tactics?

  2. 2009-11-04 20:47

    Noted and downloaded, Rob. Will I ever have the chance to play it…now that’s the question.

  3. 2009-11-16 12:47

    I’m glad you finally got around to playing it, Chris. I do agree that the difficulty is not overwhelming, but I found that the later levels just boiled down to trial and error. The hand-drawn map showing your command points, your units, and enemy units in range isn’t detailed enough. I understand that the greatest war leaders of old probably had worse maps (or no maps) and won great victories, but i don’t like having to use a command point to use a units POV. If I have a scout in place, say on a roof top, we should be able to see out their eyes without using up a precious precious command point. That simple addition would allow someone to achieve S-Rank on a mission without having to play it twice.

  4. 2009-11-16 12:49

    Would you say now that the DownLoadContent was worth the price?

  5. 2009-11-28 12:21

    DLC: Not worth the price.

  6. NotSoMuch
    2009-12-05 16:26

    I noticed there was a preview for Valkyria Chronicles 2, which got me all excited. Then I saw it’s for PSP.

    *disappointed horn sound*

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