|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA WOW||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Joining you in battle are several different types of units. Scouts have the most AP, allowing them to jet across the battlefield quickest, spotting enemies along the way; Shocktroopers function as good all-around fighters, with their rapid machine gun fire; Lancers sport heavy armor and bazooka-like rounds, making them ideal for dealing with tanks; Engineers treat the wounded, restock ammo, and repair tanks and sandbags; and Snipers offer excellent attack range.
Now, all these unit types make for a solid variety, but SEGA did gamers one better and included the Potentials system. Each unit has a different list of Potentials, which have psychological labels. Depending on the Potential and character, their stats are affected. For example, a unit with the "Country Bred" Potential gets an accuracy bonus when they're on dirt, whereas one with a "Born Leader" Potential receives a defense boost when allies are close by. However, not all Potentials are good. Some, like "Bad Back," lower your defense if you're crouching. Since most units you recruit come with both positive and negative Potentials, it encourages you to think about your surroundings before sending a particular unit into battle.
Unlocking the Headquarters in the third chapter opens up a lot of new opportunities. You can spend your experience leveling up particular units, recruit new soldiers, upgrade your weapons, armor, and tank at the R&D Facility, and visit the War Cemetery to chat with a veteran of the last war who exchanges Orders for experience points. Orders allow you to use CP points to call out special tactics in the middle of battle, such as increased defense or evasion, sniper shots or extra medical help. The inclusion of the Headquarters, with its myriad of potential upgrades, encourages you to battle on, so you can unlock that next Order or increase the ammo capacity of your tank.
It's this constant process of reveal that makes Valkyria Chronicles so special. For example, early on, you may wonder if you can grind for experience before continuing on. Once you unlock the Skirmish Mode, you find out that not only is this possible, but it's also less of a grind because you get to know the maps quite well, figuring out ways of completing them in the least number of turns. As the game progresses, you get more abilities in the troop retreat and reinforcement categories. If you wait less than three turns and get a unit near a fallen soldier, you can call a medic to evacuate the injured party. You can capture bases (marked by a flags) and once capped, they can be used to send in reinforcements while you're still in battle. Also, similar units can team up to deliver Team Attack fire.
All of Valkyria Chronicles' pluses could have been ruined by shoddy A.I. or an unfair difficulty, but neither of these typical complaints popup. Some missions are difficult, but their difficulty is merely a function of the terrain and unit positioning, not cheap intelligence tricks on the computer's part, and since the game allows you to save anytime, you can experiment with different plans of attack quite easily.
SEGA has delivered a standout title, one that pushes past its strict genre boundaries and deserves to be played by not only fans of tactical RPGs, but also those that have never touched the genre. Turn-based strategy doesn't get much better than this. PS3 owners who pickup this title won't be disappointed.
CCC Freelance Writer