Firstly, I suppose I have 2 apologies to make. The first one is to say sorry about the late post. Unfortunately, that’s not much I can do about that one as it’s down to my ISP having some flakey DNS server issues for the last week. looks to be ongoing too…

The second apology is for writing 2 games reviews in 2 weeks. I’m guessing most visitors are more interested in my model projects than these but I just had to write a review for Valkyria as
1) it’s freaking brilliant!!! and
2) for the first time since, i think ever, Europe got something before the US!!!!
Maybe Europe is no longer considered the anus of the videogame world!! Perhaps it’s moved up a little!!! Yup, we are no longer the anus, we are now the rectum!!!

Joking aside, any fan of strategy RPGs or strategy in general really should pick this game up!

The game follows a small ragtag group of army recruits as they fight to defend their country from an invasion by an aggressive country. You choose 20 units from a pool (although some characters are fixed) and march them into battle.
When in a battle, the field is displayed top  down until you select a unit. Once selected, it changes to a 3rd person perspective and you control the characters movements and attacks. Movements are restricted by action points. You are free to use them however you wish but there is a limited number of them. You could use several on 1 unit, which allows them to move and attack several times, but the distance they can move decreases with each additional action point used.

The game roughly follows a rock/paper/scissors system with units. Footsoldiers are good against heavy artillery (called lancers) which are good against tanks which are good against footsoldiers.
You have more specialized units such as snipers, engineers and scouts but for the most part, you will only be using shocktroopers and scouts.

That’s the basics out of the way, so how is it?

LOVED

  • The Graphics. If you haven’t seen screenshots or videos yet, then you really should. When controlling units or during cutscenes, the graphics are drawn in a way that resembles pastel or water paintings. They really are beautiful to look at!
  • The freedom of movement. There are no grids to worry about in this game, you can move anywhere you want in the game, within reason (no walking through walls and the like). It adds an extra dimension to tactics as you move slightly more or less to increase your level of cover among other things.
  • The story. This will change later on (according to the intro at least) but for the most part, you are not some special hero with amazing abilities out on a quest to save the world with just your girlish looks and a few friends. The story in general is a lot more down to earth and feels all the more refreshing because of it. Unfortunatley, that will change later on as the valkyria are introduced but it’s great while it lasts.
  • All the characters are individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses as well as their own individuality. When they are taken out, the player must get an ally over to them within 3 turns to call a medic and transport them out. If they don’t or the enemy gets them first, then the unit will die and you will not be able to use them again. It’s a testament to the designers and illustrators that you make sure that never happens to any of them!!
  • The level up system applies to unit classes, not the individuals, so you don’t have to worry about making sure everyone levels up evenly! You also spend the exp points as you see fit so you can neglect a class if you don’t think you will be using them much (not a good idea tho)
  • The game gives you the option of both an engish and Japanese dub!!! There are some famous names in there too from Fukuyama Jun (Lelouche in code Geass, about 100 other shows these days) to Marina Inoue (Yoko in Gurren Lagann, *shudders* tsukiumi in Sekirei, 100 other shows recently). Even Noto is in here!!!
  • The cameos!! Fans of old sega RPG Skies of Arcadia may notice a few familiar faces in the game…

Hated

  • The menu system. Outside of battle, the story is told in cutscenes. That’s fine in itself but the story is presented as a book so each chapter of the book tells a part of the story with the cutscenes and battles appearing on the pages. And you have to select each one individually!! It’s not game breaking, but it is annoying!
  • Targeting is really random. At times, your unit can miss a large number of shots at close range as the bullets can go anywhere within the target reticule. If there’s a gap, there’s a chance to miss…
    Then there’s the issue with throwing grenades. Unless you are super careful, it’s very easy to clip a corner and have the grenade fly off in a random direction, ruining your carefully thought out plan.
  • The valkyria. OK, So I didn’t hate them, but I do wish they left them out of the story and just focused on the little battles.
  • The length. I may be wrong about this but I did discover that there are only 12 chapters in the game. As early levels show that you get roughly 1 battle per chapter, that doesn’t leave many stages. There are skirmish modes and the like to increase the length, but they don’t really play any major part in the game other than to give you a chance to earn more money and experience. Good thing the stages can last a good few hours each!

Edit: after a bit of checking, there are actually 17 chapters. So there are a few more stages than I first thought!

In short, I love this game even with the flaws I found. If you are uncertain about it, there is a demo available on the PSN now. Give it a try and if you really don’t like it, then you know this isn’t for you. For the rest, get ready for a heck of a ride!!!

The only annoying thing is that there are so many good games available right now. There’s rock band 2, Gears 2, LittleBigPlanet, Persona 3 FES, Valkyria Chronicle… The list goes on and there’s not enough time for them all!!!!

And here’s a bonus pic I stumbled across. I thought it was quite good. What do you think?