Sunday, September 5, 2010

Suggested Gaming: Valkyria Chronicles II


The original Valkyria Chronicles was an example of wonderful strategic gameplay and gorgeous storybook visuals paired off with cringe worthy dialogues. Of course that horrible anime writing did something no other World War II game has ever really attempted; it addressed the Holocaust. There are so many games about World War II but so few seriously talk about the racism and persecution. You could be forgiven for forgetting it happened.


Valkyria Chronicles even incorporated the element of racism into gameplay. Certain good guys in your squad would have reduced stats when forced to fight beside Darcsen (the analogous Jews). It is also a rarity to see good guys with flaws like racism in a game. So, for as corny as certain moments were the game was great fun to play, lovely to look at, and surprisingly stimulating on an intellectual level. The one thing I walked away from it saying was: “Boy I wish there was a portable version of this.” No joke.


I read a couple reviews which seemed critical of Valkyria Chronicles II having moved from the graphical powerhouse PS3 to the much weaker PSP but the turn-based strategy formula is designed to be played while lounging/in between classes/waiting on the bus. The graphics in the sequel don’t suffer, instead they do wonders with limited capabilities. Would it look better on PS3? Of course it would, no contest. But as a PSP game it is a visual triumph.



Where Valkyria Chronicles II suffers is in its story. The move from epic global conflict to high school drama is not a very satisfying one. There is a civil war going on in the game as well, but it is between cartoonishly evil villains and uninteresting, jingoistic children so I’m not sure if it’s quite up to par. While I am critical of the story, which I mostly skip through, the gameplay is still incredibly fun and addicting. There’s been a lot of reading and writing to have suffered because of this game, and that is always a compliment.


I’ve played about 14 hours so far and the end is nowhere in sight which feels like enough play time to give a hearty endorsement to a game solely based on the fun you will have as a fan of JRPGs and/or turn-based strategy. If you’re a fan of the gameplay from the original than you should already have this. If you haven’t played either title I would recommend getting the original first and then trying this out. But I’m having great fun so I thought I’d share that enthusiasm.

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