Sega’s overlooked strategy star still shines on the portable system
Format: PSP Dev: Sega Pub: Sega Out: 03/09/10 Players: 1-4
Despite its stimulating innovations in the strategy genre, the original Valkyria Chronicles on PS3 was vastly neglected. Its combination of tactical field battles and role-playing produced a smart and compelling gameplay experience for those who took the time to explore its nuance. While not as well prepared as its predecessor, Valkyria Chronicles II brings the strategy RPG to the PSP in excellent fashion.
Like some many other titles that shrink down their home console offerings for portable systems, missions in Valkyria Chronicles II happen on a much smaller scale than that of the original. The battlefield is broken up into smaller separate areas that are connected by encampments. You must capture these encampments in order to redeploy your units in new areas. This means battles have a stop-start feel to them that brings further thumb-twiddling to the turned-based game.
Yet the tenants that made the original so good still shine through here. In every battle you will control your units in third-person sequences, known as Action Mode, and each unit has a limited number of command points per turn. This mode is terrific as, unlike other strategy games, you have more of chance of tipping the scales when in direct control of your units. Well aimed shots can deal more damage and units can play to their individual class strengths.
Set two years after the saviour of Gallia, you take control of Avan, a confident young troublemaker who enrols at the Lanseal Military Academy after learning of his older brother Leon’s death. As with every RPG, you’ll be doing a lot of conversation surfing. Valkyria Chronicles is characterised by fetching watercolour visuals that abet the obvious care that has been taken in its art style. The same can’t be said for the audio however, thanks to droll, repetitive English voice acting.
Valkyria Chronicles II is a treat for lovers of strategy or role-playing. It’s campaign structure and gameplay both require bucks of patience, but, with the exception of Final Fantasy Tactics, you’ll find few hybrid titles on PSP that are as rewarding.