|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: tri-Ace||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Adam||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Many dedicated fans have been waiting a long time for a sequel to the hit Valkyrie Profile for the original Playstation. While Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is technically a prequel, it is still well worth the wait. The basic formula for this game seems to be that tri-Ace took everything that worked well with the original game and improved upon it. They then poured a full bucket of pretty over it and shipped it out to their eagerly awaiting fans.
As I already mentioned, this game is jaw-dropping gorgeous. The games many cutscenes are lifelike, entertaining, and really help draw the player into the game. The in-game graphics are no slouch either. Character models are very large and full of intricate details such as their hair and clothes moving. Although exploring in the game is done entirely in 2-D planes, the cities, outdoor locales, and dungeons are all very beautiful and well designed. There are also a large variety of detailed enemies and bosses in Silmeria as well. In particular, the bosses in the game are very unique and really provide the player with a sense of peril during the battles with them. The combat is also visually stunning with its magical effects, special attacks, and even the ability to dismember your foes. The graphics in this game truly are spectacular and really show that the PS2 is still capable of making gamers do a double take.
When you start playing the game, you quickly realize that you are stuck on a 2-D track. While players may wish the game was fully 3-D, the 2-D gameplay really does work fairly well. Players will be able to walk left and right while only hitting up and down to enter buildings or to switch 2-D planes. The dungeons in particular are very well designed and are really a joy to explore. This is helped in-part by the Photon system used in the game.
Players can fire Photons at enemies to temporarily freeze them. Once frozen, they can either be avoided or used as platforms to help players reach different areas. You can also shoot the frozen enemies with a second Photon, which will then switch the players and frozen enemys positions. This teleporting allows you to reach hidden areas that would otherwise be impossible to get to. Mastering the use of the Photon system becomes very important as you progress through Silmeria.
Another important aspect of the game comes in the form of sealstones. Players will find these stones scattered throughout the games many dungeons. Each sealstone creates an effect that can help or hinder both your party and your enemies. These sealstones can be carried around (affecting your party), placed in a dias (to affect the enemies in the surrounding area), or placed in a spring. By placing a sealstone in a spring, it effectively saves the sealstone and allows you to access it wherever you find another spring. Finding out how to use these sealstones effectively can take some time but it adds a very important layer of strategy to the game. The benefits gained by mastering the use of sealstones though are more than worth the time you will invest, especially in the later dungeons.
The other crucial part of the game you will want to invest quite a bit of time in mastering is the games combat. When your character runs into an enemy, you and your party will be teleported to a 3-D arena to do battle. Your party will consist of four characters, each one being mapped to one of the controllers face buttons. Pressing each button will make the corresponding character perform an attack. These attack, if timed correctly, can be strung together to form some huge and destructive combos. If you score enough hits in one attack, you will be treated to some visually stunning special attacks that will also rack up huge amounts of damage. Players can also target specific areas on an enemy to enter into a break mode. This mode allows you to perform as many attacks as possible without using any of your action points.
Action points are very important in combat and really make you plan your attacks out thoroughly. Your entire party shares 100 action points displayed by a yellow bar on the bottom of the screen. If you dash (used to avoid attacks and strategically place your party) or perform an attack, these action points begin to drain. You can regain these points by either getting hit by an enemy or simply by just walking around. The action points can also be regained manually by pressing and holding L3 but this leaves you vulnerable to attacks. You will have to choose your movements and attacks very carefully to succeed in combat.
The combat in Silmeria is very fast-paced and action oriented which is a nice change of pace from more traditional RPGs. Silmeria actually encourages you to end the fights as quickly as possible by giving you more experience the quicker you are victorious. Every battle has a leader enemy who if defeated, will make the other enemies flee the battlefield, effectively ending the fight. Defeating the leaders in a fight is definitely the most effective way to win a battle and get the full experience benefits from it.
While exploring dungeons, players will be able to find and enlist undead warriors known as einherjars. Unfortunately in Silmeria, the einherjars are not handled as well as they were in the first game. In Valkyrie Profile, each einherjar had a past and players could really get attached to them. In Silmeria, you find a ton of these warriors, who can be somewhat helpful, but you dont really care about them in any way. Their only history comes from a small amount of text found in the menu screen and you never really feel any kind of connection to them. Throughout the game, they just feel like throwaway characters that you level up and release just for the stat bonuses that you will receive from doing so.
Minor gripes aside, this game really is quite good and should make fans of the original very happy. That being said, Silmeria is definitely not a game for anyone who is either an impatient player or a newcomer to RPGs. Impatient players will not want to take the time necessary to master the combat as well as other crucial aspects of the game. Newcomers will most likely feel overwhelmed by Silmerias high level of difficulty and fairly large learning curve. However, if you are a fan of the original or a lover of RPGs, then you should not hesitate to find a copy of this game as quickly as possible. You will be happy that you did.
CCC Freelance Writer
Profile of a long-awaited sequel. by Adam Brown
For Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, it seems that Square Enix has reached deep to the backburner of their franchise stove, dusted off a copy of their cult-classic PS1 title Valkyrie Profile and decided it deserved another shot. Not only has Square Enix decided to release this sequel but they have also recently released a remake of Valkyrie Profile entitled Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth for the PSP much to the elation of RPG fans around the world. While this remake is meant to reacquaint the gaming public with the Valkyrie Profile franchise, Silmeria looks to fix the problems with the original game while improving wherever possible. Upon its release in September, Silmeria will look to improve upon the originals pacing, gameplay, and graphics.
While some things will change for the sequel, the best parts of Lenneths formula will remain the same. Silmeria will be an action-RPG that continues to put a heavy focus on action. It will also maintain the combo-centered party combat that helped make the original game such a hit. When not in combat, players will immediately recognize this games 2-D platforming gameplay from its predecessor. The series will also continue in its graphical style as being a 2-D RPG wrapped in a 3-D shell, however, this time the shell is much prettier thanks to the PS2.
In this sequel, you will play as a Valkyrie named Silmeria. After having a falling out with the Norse god Odin, Silmerias spirit is forcefully reincarnated into a human princess named Alicia. You will play through most of the game as Alicia with Silmerias spirit trapped inside you, only playing as Silmeria during some combat and cinematics. Alicia isnt without her own skills however. New to this game is Alicias Photon System. This system allows her to freeze her enemies with a beam. While frozen, enemies can be used as platforms to jump from or players can instantaneously switch places with them by shooting them a second time. These new abilities should add a new level of depth to the games 2-D platforming gameplay. Players will also not be inhibited by a time limit in this sequel, which should allow players to enjoy the game more instead of feeling rushed through.
Combat in Silmeria will remain fairly similar to its roots. Players will map their party members to the face-buttons on the PS2s controller. Once mapped, players can attack in huge strings of combos by precisely timing their button presses. The big change in combat this time around is in the slight inclusion of 3-D elements. Players will now be able to fully position their characters three-dimensionally on the battlefield. While this mostly involves your party following you around, players can split their party into two groups using the D-pad. These two parties can act independently opening a new layer of strategy. Players will also notice the red blobs that appear during combat. These are the enemies attack ranges. When they are fully lit, an enemy attack is imminent but if they are dim, then it is relatively safe to proceed. Players will be able to make use of various rubble on the battlefield (pillars, boulders, etc.) by using it as cover from their enemies attacks. This added dimension to the combat should keep fights more interesting at the very least.
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria looks like it will address some of the few gripes that fans had with the original game while keeping the game relatively true to its origins. Fans of the series and newcomers to the game should definitely check out this game upon its release in September. For eager fans however, I would suggest playing through Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth for the PSP or the original PSone game to hold yourself over until then.
CCC Freelance Writer