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Customer Review

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See, Sega? Was that so hard?, 16 Dec. 2008
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) (Video Game)
Obviously, any new game from Sega is going to be greeted with a certain amount of caution, as the outdated developer continues to churn out awful game after awful game... it's easy to simply want to dismiss any title you see from them this generation(I don't count stuff like Yakuza 2, as it's a pretty old PS2 game in Japan we're only recently getting over here). It's certainly quite a shock to see them pull the rug out from under me with a release like Valkyria Chronicles, which is easily the best Sega game to come out in many, many years.

Telling the story of Welkin Gunther, the gentle son of a renowned war hero who returns home after a long time only to find himself leading a rag tag band of militia troops against a vast imperial army which is threatening to overrun their entire country, Valkyria Chronicles tells a genuinely moving, engrossing and sometimes tragic war story that plays out like an anime series where you control the battles. Yes, this being a Strategy RPG, you will spend most of your time navigating menus or playing the battles, but given just how easy the game is to play and the extremely user friendly manner in which it is designed(Far more so than any SRPG I've ever played), you really won't be too put off by the game's layout. The whole game is told in the form of a 'book' filled with comic book style panels that you select as you flip through the pages, with each panel offering either story scenes, conversations, or battles. The book also offers 'tabs' for things like visitng your HQ or various locations around the capital city that offer various incentives like weapons and upgrades to buy, aditional background story, and 'mock' battles and training for improving your skills.

The strongest aspect of the game though is defeinitely the battles, which are rendered in gorgeous, large scale third person battlefields that you move around freely depending on your soldier's(Or tank's) 'action bar', which drains the more you move around, with different classes of soldier offering differing action bar sizes. During you 'turn', at any point while moving around, your troops can take one 'action, like healing, attacking, repairing and such, with the best strategies coming from the best combinations of soldiers and actions per 'phase'(In which you or your enemy's turns are allocated by anything between 2 moves and 30 moves at a time, allowing for some large scale strategising, given the scale of whichever battle you are in). It sounds a tad complex, but when eased in through the opening tutorials, it feels like second nature quite quickly.

I won't get too far into the nuances of the combat, as it has a fair amount of depth, but needless to say, it does have a very satisfying mix of both turn based straegy unit management and real time run and gun gameplay, which keeps things exciting even during extended skirmishes. Also, as a nice touch, you can save your game any time during your own phase, allowing you replay turns over and over until you achieve the best possible outcome. Takes away from the challenge maybe, but it makes it more manageable.

Also worth noting is the variety offered in the missons. It isn't all 'defeat the enemy' objectives, as there are also battles where you'll face off against enormous, massively oversized war machines that require some inventive thinking to defeat, missions where you'll have to navigate stranded soldiers through the heart of enemy territory unseen, run diversionary raids so you can get a single soldier behind enemy lines and such, it keeps things interesting throughout.

Visually, the game is beautiful, but won't appeal to everyone, as the entire game looks like a living watercolour painting. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it works well with the story. Soundwise it is equally impressive, with a fantastic cast of voice actors on both the English and Japanese settings, and some stirring music that takes in both orchestral pieces and traditional JPOP melodies. It's quite a well presented package.

Add to this numerous play incentives for completion of the game and various tasks, and a number of amusing connections to classic JRPG Skies of Arcadia(Vyse and Aika are in here as playable characters) and you have a truly wonderful little title that keep you engrossed for the 30 odd hours it'll take to run through the story mode at least.

It's never going to be a huge hit or appeal to everyone, but for anime fans, strategy fans, or people just after a great game with a likeable story, this is essential stuff.

More of this Sega, less of Sonic.
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