I love Valkyria Chronicles. The strategy and third-person aspects are complex, innovative, and pulse-pounding. Not only is the game beautiful with it’s canvas engine, which allows you to wage war within an artistic, watercolor canvas, but the writers also know how to pen a great story. So you could say I was a little biased when I picked Valkyria Chronicles 2 up for half price on the PSN (Should’ve picked this up way sooner).
VC2 starts off two years after the events of the first game, still in the make-believe country of Gallia. If you’re not familiar with the first game, think of Gallia as being about the size of Iceland but in the position of France, surrounded by two make-believe giant superpowers. To the east is the Empire, which was invading neutral Gallia for supplies during it’s war in VC1 with the Federation, to the south of Gallia. To sum up the story of VC1; The superpowers think Gallia is a pushover, and you pull military marvels out of your hat to sweep victory and remain independent.
In between VC1 and VC2 tensions have been rising within Gallia’s borders, and civil war erupts. Your character joins a military academy called Lanseal to discover the classified cause of his brother’s death and happens to be a phenomenal leader. Your rival within the squad, Zeri, has the brains but is too focused on himself. The friendly and clumsy Cosette provides comic relief and psychiatry. You push forward to discover friendship, values, and the usual group fulfillment. But this isn’t the usual stereotypical group setting, and the writers create a phenomenal tale of discovery and friendship. I won’t go into any more details about the story, because you really should experience it for yourself, but I will note that VC knows how to kill a character (VC1 players know what I’m talking about).
Everything takes place within months within the school, giving you a clear goal and lots of opportunities for side missions. Nothing is too overwhelming in the school set up. Events for back-story and character development appear around campus and the only permanent features are the store, the training ground, the R&D building, and the briefing room.
Your supporting characters tell their own stories through three outside dialogues then a mission featuring them. In this simplistic time frame it’s surprisingly easy to become attached or interested in these characters, as the majority are unique and represent a wide variety of the human spectrum. From the kleptomaniac obsessed over weaponry to the soldier who puts duty above self-interest to the artist who lost passion in the last war, etc., it is very easy to relate yourself to a character. I was amazed there was actually someone who thinks relatively like me.
The gameplay retains its PS3 roots but, obviously, the PSP can’t maintain the scale and beauty of it’s predecessor. As a result, the battles are only fought by a group of six soldiers across 1-4 areas. The groups are fully interchangeable within your ~30 person squad, which is a relief when you see hordes of tanks and you forgot to pack a lancer (Yes, they have rocket lances. Yes, It’s awesome). Although I was initially disappointed to hear about the small group system, it really allows the combat to be focused as opposed to the extremely layered and overcomplicated battles of VC1. The introduction of new classes spices up the battle formula too, adding in swords, wrenches, and mauls allowing close combat opportunities, and burst firing sniper rifles and Lancers that move as far as scouts and…. I digress.
VC1 allowed you to customize your tank and choose special weapons for your troops, but VC2 brings in a giant swath of customizing options. You make your own weapons with materials and schematics from battles and there are literally a thousand ways to change your tank and hundreds of weapons to make for your infantry. I began the game rocking an APC but found the nostalgia for a tank hit quite fast.
There are quite a few nods to the first game, from cameos to a full blown play representation of one of the missions. Of great note is the post game, which basically says “You did what you were supposed to, here’s what we did in our spare time, enjoy all of it anywhere and anytime in the story.”
If you enjoy strategy games but never had the finger speed for an RTS, or just have great appreciation for well written stories, you couldn’t go wrong with this sequel, and you don’t even need to play the first one, although I highly suggest you do.
Thanks for reading,