|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sega||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sega||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 31, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
Though completely overlooked in its own day, the original Valkyria Chronicles has gained a fiercely loyal fan base in the eighteen months since its release. This unique title from Sega was overshadowed by bigger advertising budgets during its original release in November 2008 (this critical darling was trying to go up against Spore, Fallout 3, and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King), and it didn't gain much traction from gamers until 2009 when its twenty dollar price tag started to catch the attention of budget-minded consumers.
It has slowly won enough fans over the past year to warrant a sequel, though this installment doesn't have the benefit of the PS3's vast horsepower, instead making full use of the aging PSP systems hardware. Maybe this is a better platform for Sega to make a profit on, but it's really a shame that the sequel isn't on PS3. The original Valkyria was a beautiful game. It had a unique aesthetic that perfectly fit the half-fantasy, half-World War 2 era experience they were trying to create.
While VC2 is still a beautiful game by PSP standards, it lacks the jaw dropping quality of the original. In place of the three-dimensional cutscenes are scenes of anime drawing. These scenes are still good and complete the task of moving along the story, just don't expect to be awestruck, as many of us were while playing the original. To suit the new style, they've even come up with some ways of enhancing some of the more boring scenes. Some games will have the pictures of characters next to each other as text rolls under them. Valkyria Chronicles II spices this formula up by having each character's box reflect their mood. For example, if two characters are fighting, their pictures might bump into one another angrily.
The core of the game remains nearly untouched, except for a small host of enhancements. VC1's form of half turn-based and half real-time strategy has returned, and it is better than ever. For those who don't know, VC is a bizarre hybrid of strategy elements. It begins on a map of the battlefield, and the player has a certain amount of moves they can make per turn. Once a unit is selected, the camera zooms in for a third-person perspective of that individual unit. The unit can then move around on the map freely, although, enemy soldiers will fire on them if they get too close. Each unit gets one attack per turn, so it must be used wisely.
It may surprise you, but the fantastic gameplay that VC1 employed to win over fans actually plays better on the PSP than on the PS3. This may be because of the system, but it's more likely that Sega has simply found ways, over the last eighteen months, to optimize the gameplay and make it flow more smoothly.
Perhaps the biggest change to that form of gameplay is the inclusion of a new type of unit that uses only melee attacks. It has extremely heavy armor that allows it to charge headfirst into enemy territory and a punishing attack that can nearly kill most units in one swing, but these units wont last long alone and must be used strategically as a part of your fighting force. These troops are specifically strong when paired with a scout that can weaken enemies from afar so the melee class can swoop in to finish them off.
Outside of the tactical gameplay, there's not much that is returning to the game. VC1's storybook mode is out. In its place is a fortress type structure that players view like a map. The different rooms of the fortress light up when they have missions for the player. This is the area where the player will manage the entire campaign. The R&D room returns, so you can build new weapons and equipment, along with other areas like Drill Grounds and Mess Hall.