Review: Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)

War Strategy Meets Anime

Valkyria_coverDeveloper: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Platform(s): Playstation 3 and Steam
Rated: T for teen
Price: $19.99
Release Date: April 24, 2008 (PS3 release date)
I am not a big war or strategy genre fan, but this game was just too good to pass up. I had it on a wish list online for the longest time, and I finally decided to pass by a local GameStop and pick it up. I hadn’t heard much about it and only checked out some gameplay online and reviews from GameRankings, but I don’t regret purchasing it. Not only is it just like an anime, but the character development is deep and involved. It touches on various topics from racial tensions to leadership and working as a team.
Let’s dive right into the story, so you can find out a little more of the background of this amazing, yet overlooked game.

Story

In 1935 C.E., Europa has two forces vying for its territory, the East Europan Imperial Alliance (like the European Union I guess?) in the east and the democratic Atlantic Federation to the west. Ragnite is what everyone wants, and since the mineral is becoming scarce the Empire (Imperial Alliance) decides to go to war with the Federation to gain more of it.

Bruhl

This starts the Second Europan War in which the Empire goes on the offensive and begins to take down the Federation. They decide to attack the Principality of Gallia to take its Ragnite. The town of Bruhl in Gallia is under siege so Welkin Gunther, son of war hero General Belgen Gunther, and Alicia Melchiott the town watch captain, decide to join the Gallian militia to fight back.
Welkin is given the rank of Lieutenant to lead Squad 7, a rag tag bunch of soldiers that have to do some seriously dangerous missions to beat back the Empire and its plots led by Prince Maximillian.

Content Warning

There are a few cuss words (b****) but not that much, and very rare. Women are dressed modestly in the game, but one character named Selvaria Bles (you’ll know who I’m talking about) has abnormally large breasts. To me, this was just fan service but she is not under-dressed.
Violence is not gory, but there are a lot of weapons used from snipers to tanks to machine guns.

Gameplay

Strategy genre fans will not be disappointed in Valkyria Chronicles. It starts off simple enough but every level grows in difficulty. As you progress in chapters, you’ll notice that the enemies get smarter, stronger, and the terrain is harder to progress through.
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The battle system is called BLiTZ (Battle of Live Tactical Zones), which shows you a map in Action Mode. Everything is real time and you have an AP gauge which will run out after you use it up and your turn is over. If your base is captured, Welkin is killed (if present) or certain goals aren’t met you lose. You can also issue Orders which improve skills, heal, and perform artillery strikes and more.
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Before each battle you have a briefing, positioning of units, and then you deploy. The units you can choose from are lancers, snipers, shock troopers, scouts, or engineers. Each performs different skills and have various weaknesses and strengths or weapons. You have to be sure to choose the right combinations and make sure they don’t die because it’s crucial to victory. If a character dies, they are permanently gone from the game so be sure to restart the battle if that happens (unless you don’t care about said character). While you are in battle, you can aim for headshots, destroy trees or objects in your way, or hide behind a wall to avoid enemy fire.
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You are able to go back and play through any areas you’ve won, and there are extra battles too that I would suggest playing to get additional experience points and better weapons (You will need it!). Make sure you train your troops at the barracks, gain new skills when visiting the graveyard, or upgraded your gear at the R&D lab.
Each battle often has its own difficulties, so don’t think that because the last one was a breeze that the next one will be. From crossing a desert landscape during a sandstorm to avoiding snipers on rooftops, you will be challenged and pushed every time. Capturing the enemies bases keeps them from calling on reinforcements, and sneaking up on them gives you the advantage before you get surrounded.

Presentation

Valkyria Chronicles is full of beautiful animations and interactions with the environment. Everything you do from footsteps to gunfire to shouts of pain from the enemy is highlighted. You truly feel that you are there and every move you make matters.
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Welkin Gunther
The soundtrack lets you know everything that is going on, from when you are in danger to when you have won a battle. Sound effects go well with the game as well, from commands like “Medic!” to “Go, go, go!” Everything has dialogue, though it can get a little monotonous at times because of all the battles that you will be part of.
The characters are one of my favorite aspects of this game. You see them grow from chapter to chapter, and you truly get to know them and how they got to be a part of Squad 7. The game deals with the characters’ personal issues like Bridgitte “Rosie” Stark’s prejudice to Darcsens or Welkin Gunther becoming a leader that his squad can trust. There are lots of cut scenes between the fights, which are sometimes pretty long and progress the plot. They have to be watched in order to continue, but it feels like you’re watching a TV show waiting to see what happens in the next episode.
The environments the battles take place in like the towns, deserts, plains, or camps are all unique. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it keeps things interesting.

Conclusion

There are many types of people that will enjoy this game, from otaku to strategy and RPG fans alike. Even if you’ve never picked up a war/strategy title, you will not regret picking this one up. Prepare to get lost in the world of Europa and the war between the Empire and the Federation.
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Squad 7

Be sure to purchase it below for a digital copy to play on Steam or get it for your PS3!

[amazon template=thumbnail&asin=B0016C3260]

The Bottom Line

Valkyria Chronicles brings a fresh take on the strategy genre that I have yet to see duplicated. It has a deep story, realistic characters and lots of feeling. If you enjoy RPGs, anime or games about war then you need to pick up this classic.

 

8.1

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Michael M.

Michael is a child of God, husband, teacher, business owner, anime lover and a life long gamer. When not conquering distant world's via console, he can be found reading, watching anime or Netflix, writing, or just enjoying life as a geek in the city of Miami. He aspires to travel to Japan and possibly...never leave.

5 Comments

  1. Tom on April 17, 2015 at 12:01 am

    I actually went out and bought this on PC in a Steam sale (£5.09/$7.60) from the review here. I am still working through the campaign, having played over 10 hours already (interspersed over a couple of weeks due to work).

    Nonetheless, I have found it highly enjoyable. The graphics are good but not great, the story line intriguing and well-written set in a very believable universe, and the game-play is very satisfying. As an entry-level RPG, you could not expect more.

    Being a Japanese RPG, you would think they would mess up the voice acting in the English version, which is far from the truth.

    The only downside I have experienced so far are the menu system and the difficulty level. The menu is a rather complex series of chapters, books, menu’s, Command centres etc. After a few minutes of switching around though you do get to understand how it works. It’s robust but complicated needlessly. Secondly, the difficulty. Whilst at first the game is relatively easy and guides you through the mechanics of the game, after the second level the difficulty ramps up very quickly. This is by no means wholly terrible, for the game does stretch your abilities in a good way. But by after the second level, the game sort of goes “Ok, you now know how to walk, good luck with riding this unicycle whilst juggling, bye!” and leaves you quickly fumbling to understand ever instruction chucked at you.

    Besides these two little niggles, I highly recommend this game, and have already done so to my gaming buds.

    If you enjoy RPGs, challenging strategic game-play, or a game that uses in-game cut-scenes that look cut straight from a decent anime (of which there is an anime tie-in for the game), Valkyria Chronicles is a game that you will be sorry you missed.

  2. Maurice Pogue on March 28, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Did a Backloggery Beatdown on this game almost a year ago. Reminded me of a modern FFT.

    Was surprised to discover that the composer of the OST for FFT is the composer for the music in this game. I shocked myself at how I could HEAR the similarities.

    http://placetobenation.com/backloggery-beatdown-valkyria-chronicles/

    • Michael M. on April 17, 2015 at 1:21 am

      Ohh I didn’t know that thanks. Cool, glad you enjoyed the game as well, thought it was great.

  3. Charles/TWWK on March 27, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Nice review, Michael!

    • Michael M. on April 17, 2015 at 1:20 am

      Thanks! I appreciate it 🙂 I didn’t notice I ever had comments here till now 🙁

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