The first Valkyria Chronicles game is one of the best games on the PS3. It took the rock/paper/scissors mechanics of the advance wars and fire emblem series and added its own real time twist to the strategy RPG to create a very unique beast. It was and still is a beautiful looking game and had a surprisingly engaging storyline that paralleled World War 2. I even found myself quite moved at times especially when the team ends up in the Darcsen concentration camps, the Darcsens of course representing the Jewish people.
There was a lot of fan fury over the announcement that the sequel would be released on the PSP. Initial reports suggested that the battle grounds and team sizes you were allowed were greatly reduced and the PSP was never going to replicate the beautiful visuals of the original. While Valkyria Chronicles 2 is nowhere near the quality of the original it’s still very much worth your time.
|You again have control over a tank and it's more customisable than ever! While not on par with the original, Valkyria Chronicles 2 is still a great looking game.|
Valkyria Chronicles 2 takes place after events in the first game when the invading Imperial forces have been driven out of the region. However a civil war has broken out in Gallia, between the North and the South, the Southern army lead by a group of aristocrats with racist views on the Darcsen people. With parallels to the American Civil War, Valkyria Chronicles has some very strong material to work with. Unfortunately the story is muck. There’s none of the emotional highs of the first game mostly due to the cast being a bunch of absolute fannies. Valkyria Chronicles 2 takes place in a military academy, basically high school with guns. It’s a bit like Persona 3 and 4 but instead of a believable cast of teenagers what we have here is a bunch of the worst kind of anime clichés. The main character is the worst; he’s a total slacker and idiot that makes no effort to improve himself but for some reason becomes the leader of a military unit. His laugh will send shivers down your spine.
|Avan in the bottom left, the annoying bellend of a protagonist|
Thankfully Valkyria Chronicles’ unique strategic combat has transferred quite faithfully over to the PSP system with a few new additions. Despite the battle areas being reduced in size you now have to manage your forces over multiple battle areas, a good compromise that gives every skirmish the large scope of the PS3 original on less capable hardware. The selection of units to use has been greatly expanded upon. While initially there are only 5 units to choose from each can be promoted to new specialist units. For example scouts can become snipers or focus on grenades. There’s also a new unit class added to Valkyria Chronicles 2 that can either focus on close range combat or can become a support class by setting up minefields.
|The strategic map overview. You can see in the bottom left the different battle areas you can jump between.|
Although a little disappointing compared to its predecessor Valkyria Chronicles 2 is still an excellent game. There’s a huge amount of content, about 80 hours worth to beat the story and probably that again for the post game content. Sega also released some codes to unlock extra characters and missions so it’s worth getting them off Sega’s website or a FAQ. One other aspect that I haven’t covered since I never had a chance to experience it is the multiplayer mode which consists of both co-op and competitive modes. The first game was crying out for a multiplayer so I’m pretty sure it works great on the PSP.
|One of the new close range specialists about to bring the hurt. They might not have the best mobility but do a lot of damage and swing their weapons in an arc.|
It’s just a shame that Sega decided to turn Valkyria Chronicles into a PSP series. Low sales of Valkyria Chronicles 2 and the death of the PSP market in the West means Sega are refusing to release Valkyria Chronicles 3 in the West, a game which supposedly takes all of the improvements in Valkyria Chronicles 2 and adds a decent narrative. At least there’s some fan translators working on the project.