Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles 1 was released on the PS3 a few years ago by SEGA. The game follows the story of a young man named Welkin who returns to his home Bruhl, after being away at college, to help his sister move out of town. On the way home Welkin happens to look over at the river and notices some fish, this is when he shows his love for biology, and begins to draw them on his note pad. This little event right here is what gets him caught up in a great adventure.

While on her patrol route, town watch member Alicia notices Welkin down by the river writing things down in a notebook. Suspecting he's a spy from the empire she decides to arrest him. Welkin doesn't really say too much and goes with her, but when his sister Isara comes running to greet him Alicia notices who he is. Welkin Gunther, the son of a great war hero from the first Europan War.

Alicia quickly lets Welkin go and finally listens to what he was actually doing down at the river, everything was finally going ok for Welkin but that was when it happened. Empire soliders began to attack.
This is the first time you enter combat.

The game follows a pretty standard pattern where you'll watch full cutscenes (which are just normal cutscenes), mini cutscenes (cutscenes where you can only see the characters heads like you would in a RPG), have some kind of mini event/mission, watch more cutscenes/mini cutscenes, then have the final mission for the chapter. The game is set up like a book so you'll be selecting each of these events on pages of the book, by the end you'll have a full story book to rewatch/play over and over again. There are exra missions, a level up system, and quite a lot of other parts to this game, but I'll get to that a bit latter.
Anyway the battle system is a bit different than any other RTS/TBS out there. When you start a battle you'll see an overview of the map and there will be icons to show you where each unit is. Your units are ALWAYS visible on the map, but enemy units can only be seen if they are in your units line of sight. At the top of the map you'll notice emblems known as "command points," these are what you will be using to move your units.
Unlike a normal TBS you will be able to move your unit as many times as you want as long as you have the points to do so. Each unit requires 1 CP to move them, while bigger units (such as tanks) will take more than 1 (normally 2). Command Points are really something you have to think about in this game, sometimes it's best to use a lot of points to move a single unit somewhere, and other times it's best to move all/most of your units once per turn. Anyway the game gives you a LOT of freedom with this feature so you just do what you see fit. Once you use your CP up you must then end your turn and the enemy will then make it's moves the same way (however you can end your turn early and save leftover CP for the next turn).

Now how does the actual battle work? Well it's not 100% turn based like a normal TBS. Once you select your unit you'll be taken into a fully 3D view. In this view you will see your character from 3rd person and you'll have unlimited freedom on where you can move. While normal TBS games make you move along a grid, Valkyria keeps EVERYTHING open for you so it's completely up to you just how your characters will move and where they'll be.

When your moving your units you'll notice a yellow bar at the bottom of the screen, this is your AP which tells you just how much you can actually move. Every time you take a step the bar will go down little by little until you're finally unable to move. Now like I said, you CAN just use another CP to move that unit again if they get stuck in a bad spot, but everytime you use a CP on the same unit in the same turn your AP bar will be cut in half. Normally you'll still be able to get pretty far on the 2nd and 3rd use, but once you've used 4 CP + on a unit, it'll bairly be able to move.

Ok so what about the combat? Well it's in real time as well. As you're running around the map you WILL be shot at, which is why you need to make use of things such as tall grass to hide in, or simply take cover. The damage is based on where you're hit (head shots will deal massive damage), but whenever you use cover your defense will be boosted greatly and let you easily survive a head shot. This is why you should ALWAYS take cover when you can, even if it's just to attack whoever is in front of you.

Now once you're ready to actually attack a unit, you can go into aim mode. In aim mode EVERYTHING STOPS which means you will not be shot at. As seen in the picture above in aim mode you'll be able to freely aim at whatever you want, but the aiming is based on stats, you cant simply just aim at the head and expect to win. See the circle? Well that shows you just where your shots might hit. As you go through the game and level up your stats/get better guns that circle will get smaller and smaller, but it's also weapon based. Rifles, like the one in the picture, start out with a pretty small circle and are good for long range hits, SMGs have a HUGE circle which makes them good for close range, snipers use their sight to zoom in and they have a very small circle, tanks circles are based on which gun you're using on the tank, and any special type of weapon such as a lance (rocket) will have more of a wide range of possible circles depending on just what they're using (normally it's a size inbetween rifle and SMG).

Well once you're in aim mode, and understand how aiming actually works, another thing you'll notice is the counter at the top of the screen. This little counter will show you how many shots your gun will fire, and how many shots it'll take to kill that unit if you hit them in that part of the body. This is a VERY important feature, but sometimes you wont always be able to use it. A lot of the time bosses will take ??? hits so it'll just be a guessing game.

Besides shooting with your gun you can also switch to grenades, healing items, etc. Grenades and healing items are limited each turn, but by using a unit that is an engineere you'll be able to "refuel" anyone who needs it. Grenades are also very useful when it comes to blowing up whatever the enemy is using as a shield, so keep that in mind and things will be a lot easier (or you could just run it over with a tank, that works just as good).

While on the map there's a limited numbers of units you can have out at a single time, but by using your base camp/camps you have captured, you can freely switch them in and out. You'll also be able to spend CP on "orders" to give your units different boosts/support (such healing orders, attack boost orders, or even air strike orders) which will really help you out in the end. There's also sometimes area effects in each map as well, so aiming/movement will not always be easy when you're out there.

The missions do get pretty hard pretty fast and things might become confusing with all the features that are brought in, but you CAN save during missions so you could always reload a save if you were to mess up. Also keep in mind that units WILL die for good if they are killed in battle, you do have a few turns to get someone to them inorder to save them, but if you are not able to get to their body as soon as possible they will be gone for good.

Like I said before, theres a lot of other features to this game, it's not just all cutscenes and missions. Outside of missions you'll be able to go to other pages of the book or to the street. Now while you're on the street everything is still in a menu, so don't thing you can actually go walking around out there, the game is fully menu based outside of missions. Anyway on the street you'll be able to buy news reports on current events, extra story pages (some pages may take place at earlier points in the story), and you'll be able to go to places like the training grounds, barracks, and R&D labs.

At the training grounds you'll be able to use EXP won in each mission to level up your classes (yes levels are done by class and not character which means you don't have to worry if you have to use a character you never used before). Although there is a small stat increase for each level this is mainly to gain new orders/abilities for each class (which I'll explain abilities very soon). Leveling up is pretty important but sometimes you'll want to save that exp for the graveyard area, which is a place where an older man will teach you new orders in exchange for EXP.

In the R&D lab you'll be able to upgrade your weapons (each weapon has a few paths it can go down with different stats for each type), armor, grenades, and even your tank. Now while the weapon system is just a simple branching tree like system, the tank actually uses a system just like Megaman Battle Network! While you can simply upgrade normal parts of the tank by going down an upgrade tree, you can also buy extra parts which can be added to the tank to boost different stats and give it different abilities. Each part you buy will have a different size/shape block, and it's up to you to figure out how you want to fit it in. If you've ever used the navi cust in Battle Network, you'll feel right at home.

The Barracks might be one of the most important parts of the game, or at least the character system in general. In the Barracks you'll be able to equipt characters with different weapons (including weapons you take from enemies) and you'll be able to pick which units are in your squad. Each unit has different skills, abilities, and stats. While skills are normally things that'll help your character (such as a character who lived in the country would have a skill where they get stronger around dirt) some skills can actually hurt you (such as characters who have phobias). Characters will also have best friends who they'll work best around (such as by providing back up for eachother, or even giving eachother stat increases), but once again you really need to look at characters skills before you decided to put friends together. There's some characters out there who just love to talk to friends, and that might cause you problems.

The whole skill system can be a bit confusing at first, but once you figure out your squad and know how to use each unit you'll have no problem at all.

By now you may be wondering, just why is the game called Valkyria Chronicles? Well it's a very big part of the story. After Welkin and Alicia fight off the empire they end up joining the militia and end up going to war to protect their country. Welkin is a great commander and is able to use his roots in biology to his squad's advantage. As the story goes on the main characters end up going against a human with super powers, it turns out they are actually one of the legendary Valkyria.

The Valkyria and the race of people known as Darcsens are actually big parts of the story. The Valkyria were a legendary race of people with super powers but they were said to have been all killed off during a massive event caused by the Darcsens which also scared the world forever. The game slowly starts to explain just what really happened back then, but for a long time you'll know little more than what I just told you.

After what the Darscens were said to cause they became the hated race. Some of the game's basics actually come from real life and you could easily compare the Darscens to what happened to the Jews, and the Empire is easily compared to Germany. Some of the characters on the Empire's side are based on German commanders, but the game does avoid offending anyone when it comes to these matters.

Welkin's adopted sister Isara is actually a Darscen herself and the game shows some of the trouble she has to deal with. While the game does show just how bad these people have it, it also shows just how stupid and racist people can be.

As for the rest of the game's story, well there's some comedy included but it's got quite a bit of drama and even romance. It's a really nice game with a really REALLY good story. The game's rated T and a lot of the "junk" other war games include (such as heavy cursing) is completely left out. Really I'd say this is a game just about anyone could enjoy, even kids under the age of 13.

After Valkyria Chronicles was released an anime came out which was simply a retelling of the original story. Some people didn't care for the anime version, but even so they decided to keep the anime style for Valyria Chronicles 2.

Valkyria Chronicles 2 was released in the PSP just a few years after Valkyria Chronicles was released on the PS3. The game takes place 2 years after VC1 and takes place during a civil war. The story follows a 17 year old named Avan who joins a military academy inorder to find out what happened to his brother who was said to have died on a special mission.

Although it's a school, acadmey students are required to fight rebel forces due to the fact that the Army cannot get invovled. The game has all brand new characters but a few from the past do show up from time to time, you can also use codes (which can be entered in at a menu) to unlock characters from VC1.
While the battle system is mostly the same as in VC1, a few things have changed. Now maps are smaller and can only hold 5 units, but missions have more than one map that you'll have to go through. By using the camp system you'll be able to transfer from map to map while trying to complete different goals. Each camp is connected to other maps so this means that you'll have to often defend both sides to keep it from being captured. Seems easy since you can have 5 units on each map right? Well that's wrong. Although you can have 5 units on each map, you're only allowed to have 6 units out total, this means you really have to think about what units you want on each map and just how to use them, and to make things even harder, you cant save during battle. If you mess up, you've got to restart.

Morale is another feature that was added into the main battle system which is very important as well. Everytime you do something good, such as capture a camp or take out a unit, your morale goes up, but if you do something bad, such as die or have a camp captured, it'll go down. Let morale hit 0 and you lose.
The weapon and class system has also been improved by A LOT. Now everytime a character gets a kill/does something out on the field they'll get items that can be used to either upgrade their class or build new weapons/tank parts. The game has the basic classes from the first game but each one can be upgraded in a tree like system. The left side of the class tree is simply the normal class but upgraded versions of it, while the paths that branch off of are something completely new. Since there's actually over 30 classes in the game, I wont really be able to go into detail about them but it does get pretty advanced. Another "base" class was also added into the game which are units who use swords/shields, but other than that the other classes are not completely new. Just new versions of old classes with different weapons and stats. Each character is in a set class group, but Avan can switch to any class so you can use him however you want.

Tanks have also been changed up quite a bit and you can now pick just what type of vehicle it is. You can have light armor cars that move fast, light tanks, or you can use a tank like the one from VC1. There's a lot of parts you can attach to the tank (including parts that allow you to build bridges, crush rocks, etc) so you can really just decide what KIND of tank it'll be. You are not limited at all.

Outside of battle has changed A LOT. Instead of using normal menus the game decided to go with a Visual Novel set up where you can go to different locations and see different events. Each day different events will happen which are just ways to see the student life, but some events are classmate related and others are story related as well. By going to the classroom you'll be able to either pick story missions, or free missions. This game has A LOT OF MISSIONS! While VC1 had around 30 or so, this game has HUNDREDS! You can buy missions in the shop, but if you want to wait till you have better units you can always do one of the free/story missions.

Free missions do not advance the storyline but it does move you onto the next day and it opens up daily events. Each day events will open up so if you want to see the full story it might be a good idea to replay missions you have already beaten just so you can unlock all the events for that month. Once you beat a story mission  the story moves on and the month changes. Events are season based so you can easily miss out on events by going ahead too fast.

The game also has classmate missions which lets Avan get closer to his classmates, and it also unlocks different skills for whatever classmate it is for. To unlock classmate missions you must use that character in battle. After 5 CP has been used on a classmate a classmate event will be opened up the next day. Once you watch the cutscene you must then use 10 CP points on the classmate to unlock the 2nd event, and then 15 CP to unlock the 3rd. Once you've seen the 3rd event the classmate mission will be unlocked. During the 2nd month of the game you'll unlock a normal mission where you have to get 1 unit to a target. This mission is VERY VERY easy and is a very good mission to use to unlock the classmate missions.

Although it's a PSP game, Valkyria Chronicles 2 is a LOT bigger than the original game. Many people still say the original is the best Valkyria game so far, 2 still has a lot to do and can easily give you 100 + hours of gameplay. The game also includes local co-op and vs missions, which is something the 1st game really should have included. In missions like these you'll be able to use different commands (such as a command that lets you provide back up for your partner when they're making their turn), and it really tests your team work.
There's also a lot more news updates in the game, and even an encyclopedia to help you remember facts about the world around you.

Valkyria Chronicles 3 has already been made/released in Japan, but it still hasn't been released in the USA. The game takes place during VC1 and follows the story of a group of soliders who are pretty much theifs and rejects of the army. To sum it up, they're the group the army sends in to die.

The game improves on features once again, and adds even MORE classes in as well as the ability to make any character any class which is something only Avan could do in VC2. New weapons and abilities have also been added (such as rockets that can lock onto more than 1 target), and so has a brand new system which lets characters use special abilities.

With this new system you can spend Special Points (which are very limited) to activate special skills that each character has, this even includes activating a Valkyria's Valkyria powers. Each character has their very own special power so you really have to think about who's power to use and just how to use it. You can't just act without thinking.

The game still keeps the anime style, but it has changed from the Visual Novel style. The game's map is now on a map of the country with push pins marking different parts. Each marker will either be an event, mission, or an area that you can go to, such as your base. At different parts in the map there will be branching paths where you can actually pick which way you want to go. How you play the game will change the story and you'll come to an ending based on your actions. This is the first time Valkyria Chronicles ever had more than one ending.

Well that about does it, Valkyria Chronicles is a great game and is worth checking out if you're a fan of war games, good stories, anime, visual novels, TBS games, RTS games, or RPGs. The game is really a mix of all of them and it works very well.

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