Sunday, September 22, 2013

Valkyria Chronicles (Playstation 3, 2008)

Today I'm going to take a quick look at a fairly underrated PS3 game from Sega. It's a strategy RPG that transpires on three-dimensional maps. The story runs during an alternate version of the early-to-mid 20th century. It's incredibly unique, and I haven't seen anything else quite like it. THIS... is the Chronic- (What?) cles of Valkyria! I said the Chronic (What?) cles of Valkyria!

Here's the box art. It, like the game, is very anime-styled. I suspect this turned a lot of people away from the game, who took one look at it and thought it was the "cartoony JRPG shit" that people are always hating on.

The title screen is great, with an inferno going on in the background while triumphant music plays.

The main menu of the game. It takes the form of a book, which is inventive and awesome. From here, you can choose battles to take on, do micromanagement of your forces, and so on. It's sorta like a next generation Final Fantasy Tactics style game... but not really, since you control characters as they move and attack on the map. I hear that XCom: Enemy Unknown is a similar game to this, but that's about the only one I know of.

This is the hero of the game, the kind-hearted Welkin. He's a cool dude. I apologize for the haphazard screenshots, which aren't up to my usual standard. When I took these pictures I was pressed for time and just taking them to show to friends. Didn't even intend to make an official post for this initially, so the shot quality isn't the best. Also, I've only got a few of these pictures, so this will be a summarizing post.

Welkin spends a lot of time writing and talking to fish. Gotta say, I really like the graphics in this game. They look like colorful, animated drawings.

Welkin is a well fleshed-out character. He's far from the standard "blonde JRPG hero who isn't the least bit manly or badass". You can tell, because his hair isn't blonde.

I mentioned the time period that this takes place in. It's interesting, because it's sort of a parallel version of Earth circa WW2. Battles are fought with tanks and rifles.

Here's your typical battle map. The battles in this game take place over a fairly small area most of the time, and since you're usually outgunned, strategy is of utmost importance.

Another map. This game enjoys putting you in pincer attack situations. Luckily, more often than not, you're the beneficiary of said pincer attack. The battles are usually fair numerically, though. For instance, this one is 9 vs 9. You won't be dealing with any 5 vs. 12 situations here ala Final Fantasy Tactics.

Combat in action. Here we see Welkin having a shootout with an enemy trooper. While you directly control the movement of your characters, their attack accuracy (and damage if they hit) are less under your control. This is where the RPG-like mechanics of the game come into play. That said, you can still direct your fire by aiming it at the heads of the enemies, or various other weak points depending on the enemy.

One of the many tanks featured in the game. There are several different types, and they're beastly enough to almost be considered boss fights. Heck, some of the later tanks ARE boss fights. Their weak point is always the glowing blue radiator.

The storyline of the game is pretty great too, and the art is well-done enough to live up to the story being told.

The girl on the left is Alicia, the second-to-main character of the game. Though in a way, she's the main foot-character in battles because Welkin starts manning a tank before long. That tank is Edelweiss, and it's sorta the centerpiece of your militia.

Here's the base. It's where all of the micromanaging happens... and the sex.

It's weird when a character in a game has a last name. In any case, this would be a good time to mention that this game has several imports from Skies of Arcadia. Vyse is also a character you can get, complete with the same look and 'tude. I still need to play that game...

Here we see the five classes of the game. Scouts are stealthy, can travel long distances, and are good offensively...if you exclusively go for headshots. Shocktroopers are more of a "heavy fighter" class. They can't travel very far at a time, but they're even better offensively. At least, for a time. Scouts outpace them in most ways as the game goes on. Lancers are the short-range, slow, anti-tank class that aren't very useful against infantry. Engineers are the "healer" class, able to repair tanks and do some useful utility like mine-disarming. Snipers are very weak to enemy attacks, but they're good for long-range KOs if you hide them far from the battle.

This screen also shows the exp system. After every battle you accumulate a substantial amount of exp, and this can be used to level up whichever classes you choose.

Yes - you level up your classes. More inventiveness. They get substantially better as you level them up, and it's good to balance them out. For instance, I neglected Scout for a while, thinking it wasn't very good. Midway through the game, I found out how good Scouts actually are and dropped a ton of exp to catch them up. Every class is important in its own way. I definitely utilized Snipers the least, but they're very important for a couple of key battles.

Here's a battle map during a battle in progress. Skipping far ahead, this is Chapter 17, potentially the most brutal fight in the game. There are a couple of major villains who pose a continuous menace over the course of the game. One is Selvaria, the blue-haired death lady from the cover of the game. The other is Jaeger, master of tanks.

This battle is the big brawl with Jaeger. I found that when I'd hang out in my base area, Jaeger would actually come to me. Once I realized this I started the battle over. Took a few potshots at him with Edelweiss to lower his HP a little bit on the way, then set up an ambush.

Here he is, all by himself. ...well, there's a medium tank off to the south, but I'm ignoring it and using a couple of characters as shields for its attacks. Let it be known that I absolutely squeaked by in this battle, because Jaeger's tank is a total beast.

Whoa, what have we here? That'd be all four of my Lancers (the anti-tank infantry unit of the game). If I'd gone in with six, and they were packing full upgrades, this would have been over quick. In any case, pressed against this wall, they could hit him without being hit back. I had all four unload their three missiles, then used the rest of my CP firing with Edelweiss. That took off his armor.

Next turn, he fled for a sanctuary to heal up, so Edelweiss chased him down and opened fire on the exposed weak point. Battle over. Wow. That was a neat trick that probably saved me hours of pain.

For the final battle, the nefarious emperor transforms into Broly from Dragonball Z. Unfortunately, Goten and Trunks don't pee on his head.

Finished the game, 28 or so hours on the clock. Pretty damn neat game, this one. I particularly enjoyed the art style and the music. You can't go wrong with Hitoshi Sakimoto as a composer. He's also the man who composed the soundtracks for Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, two of the best soundtracks in the pantheon of video gaming.

I highly recommend this game to strategy RPG enthusiasts.

And now, a random smattering of posts:

Assassin's Creed 2 (PS3)
Mega Man IV (GB)
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP)

1 comment:

  1. The graphics are incredible. It's easy to think of better graphics as more realism, but what this does is make constant hand-animated pictures possible, which is a real treat to see. I went back and looked over this mail again a few times.