About Us | Game Reviews | Feature Articles | Podcast | Best Work | Forums | Shop | Review Game

Go Back   GameCritics.com Forums > GameCritics.com Discussion > Community User Submissions

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-21-2009, 04:01 PM   #1
Boy
Pictured: Hope not crying
 
Boy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: with my generic dad
Posts: 4,110
Rep Power: 20 Boy is on a distinguished road
Send a message via AIM to Boy
Please Rate This Review: Valkyria Chronicles

High: Capturing the enemy flag with a single scout running and gunning within the first turn

Low: Leaving my own base totally unguarded allowing a lone enemy Lancer to lumber over and capture it unhindered, 10 turns into a battle

WTF: We definitely needed a cutesy flying piglet in our reimagining of WWII, right guys?

It seems like lately gaming has entered it's own Cold War. E3 was a stark reminder that developers seem intent on escalating their respective hype machines, which each year generate more shock and awe than the last. Those games who don't have the undeniable power of hype pushing them forward can rarely hope to attain the reviews, sales and reception of their more fortunate counterparts. Ironic, then, that Valkyria Chronicles, a game about a different war in which a tiny nation fends off an empire, is the one to turn this convention on it's head.

Originally released in the fall of '08 to modest success, Valkyria Chronicles has maintained a steady momentum thanks almost entirely to word of mouth, prompting Sega themselves to recognize fans of the game for fighting the good fight. But what about this game drives people to take up the cause this way?

The game has style in spades. CANVAS, the clever name Sega uses to describe the visuals used in Valkyria Chronicles, makes the entire game look like it was hand drawn on parchment, and every part of the game is consistent with this style. The between battle menus are handled in the form of pages in a book about the war, and when selecting units in battle, the camera will zoom high above the action displaying the entire battlefield as if it were a topographical map.

Fortunately, there is more than enough substance to match, and Sega has a word for that too: BLiTZ. Unlike your typical tactical RPG, Valkyria Chronicles isn't entirely turn based. The militia and empire forces do take turns moving units, but both can also attack any enemy units which move into their field of view during the opponents turn. What this means is that the player can't just run into a base and capture a flag in one turn as they'll get torn to shreds by enemy gunfire. This system combined with a variety of units, a tank or two, and quite a spread of upgrades to make to the troops easily sees the game through its 30-hour length.

If that weren't enough, the troops themselves have enough charm to choke a horse. There are plenty of recruits in Squad 7, and each one has their own name, backstory, friendships and unique skills and weaknesses that set them apart from all other units of the same class. I found myself falling back on a crotchety old shocktrooper with a bad back named Coby for much of the game. There's a feeling that comes from seeing this bald 50-something take out an enemy APC all by himself that just can't be replicated by Unit #342 fresh off of the production lines. On the flipside, there were characters like the dopey, scatterbrained Ramsey that I loathed using, and would only deploy in moments of dire necessity. Between Coby and Ramsey existed a spectrum of faces and personalities with which I had wildly varying degrees of love/hate for, and the affinities I built with the various members of Squad 7 through the game only served to enrich the entire experience.

However, like the individual units that make up Squad 7, Valkyria Chronicles has a few flaws of its own. The story, while basically a retelling of WWII, has several heaping helpings of irritating anime conventions common in RPGs. Despite the horrors of war going on around them, characters frequently find time to be sickeningly twee, coming up with cute strategies based on bugs, rambling about delicious baked goods and "aw!"-ing at winged piglets. Furthermore, the squad as a whole has probably one of the most unconsciously hypocritical moralities I've seen since God of War.

Without spoiling much, our intrepid heroes are assisted by a super-powered being in an extremely critical battle. It is obvious both to the player and to the in-game characters that this battle would not have been winnable without such extreme assistance, and the game emphasizes this fact. Immediately afterward, the characters then agree that the use of this power was a "very bad thing" for no real reason, and vow to never use it again. The power is used again, however, and its use inarguably sets the groundwork for yet another victory. In essence, the game has its moral cake and eats it too, using "very bad" power when it is necessary to move the story forward, meanwhile constantly reminding the player that the power is indeed "very bad".

Another point of contention is that despite the general robustness of the BLiTZ system, the game periodically thrusts the player into gimmick missions which are rarely as fun as a straight battle. In one, the player is faced against an opponent on a high wall who wields a machine gun with the power and accuracy of a sniper rifle, that can and will annihilate a unit before they've moved five steps from cover. In another the squad is faced against a tank that is as big as a building, and many turns are spent simply waiting for it to expose its radiators, which are the only weak spot it has.

These battles and the anime contrivances in the storyline stand out starkly as small but significant blemishes on an otherwise fantastic game. Even with these, Valkyria Chronicles, with its refreshing take on the tactical RPG genre, its creative angle on a war that's been done-to-death in the games industry, and its beautiful presentation is an easy game to recommend (again and again, more than half a year out from release) to almost any gamer. Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game was obtained via purchase and reviewed on the PS3. Approximately 30 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed one time.

Parents: According to the ESRB Valkyria Chronicles contains Animated Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, and Violence. While mostly accurate, I do remember the game being largely blood free, with gunfire causing little more than sparks of impact, and the most suggestive theme I can recall is one enemy officer's particularly ample bosom. Even and issue as serious as concentration camps are handled with kid gloves firmly on hand. I would say there is little to nothing for parents to worry about here.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: All voiced dialogue is presented through subtitles, with the exception of small quips during battle, which aren't significant to gameplay. There are also no serious audio cues to speak of.

Last edited by Boy; 06-23-2009 at 05:26 PM. Reason: Touched up and expanded, as per Brad's advice.
Boy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2009, 12:49 AM   #2
Brad Gallaway
Demons are defeated
 
Brad Gallaway's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Seattle, Washington
Posts: 3,988
Rep Power: 20 Brad Gallaway is on a distinguished road
Re: Please Rate This Review: Valkyria Chronicles

Hey Boy.

You know, this is actually a pretty good review. Its brevity kind of struck me at first, but as I read it again, I really can't fault it. You get in, make your points, and get out… very efficient.

Things to clean up would be…

> not starting sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’

> the morality part could be cleaned up and expanded a bit.

> This may sound odd, but I actually wouldn't mind seeing it be a little longer… you had a pretty good vibe going here and for such a great game, I’d be pretty open to see you speak about it a little more.

I think that's about it. Nice job, man.
__________________
Drink Coffeecola. It's good and good for you!
My Blog on Writing and Gaming
Brad Gallaway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-23-2009, 05:29 PM   #3
Boy
Pictured: Hope not crying
 
Boy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: with my generic dad
Posts: 4,110
Rep Power: 20 Boy is on a distinguished road
Send a message via AIM to Boy
Re: Please Rate This Review: Valkyria Chronicles

Alright Brad, I touched up the review. I expanded the morality issue into its own paragraph, as well as went into more depth on the relationship I had with the various characters in the game.

Any more questions/comments?
Boy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2009, 12:15 PM   #4
Jason Karney
Pixel King
 
Jason Karney's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: the land of confusion
Posts: 2,417
Rep Power: 17 Jason Karney is on a distinguished road
Re: Please Rate This Review: Valkyria Chronicles

I think it looks really good. Unlike Brad, I didn't think this is too long at all; although I guess it's been expanded since the first iteration?

I would remove the paragraph "Originally released..." because it sounds more like marketing. I would also consider using a more common word than twee, but that's nitpicking.

Overall, great job! Where have you been hiding your writing chops all the years you've been on these forums? Or is that how you developed them?
Jason Karney is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2009, 03:10 PM   #5
Boy
Pictured: Hope not crying
 
Boy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: with my generic dad
Posts: 4,110
Rep Power: 20 Boy is on a distinguished road
Send a message via AIM to Boy
Re: Please Rate This Review: Valkyria Chronicles

Well I haven't been "hiding" my chops exactly, just doubting them and I figured the best (and probably only) way to see if I had any was to put it out there where people could see it.

And the only complaint I have about removing "originally released" is that I felt that VC's continued success was an important part of understanding it's place in the world of gaming. It's not the typical story of good-game-flying-under-the-radar, and I wanted to at least point that out.
Boy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2009, 08:05 PM   #6
Boy
Pictured: Hope not crying
 
Boy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: with my generic dad
Posts: 4,110
Rep Power: 20 Boy is on a distinguished road
Send a message via AIM to Boy
Re: Please Rate This Review: Valkyria Chronicles

There is, and a manga as well.

Both are based off of the game, and both take various liberties with the source material.
Boy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2009, 05:36 PM   #7
Boy
Pictured: Hope not crying
 
Boy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: with my generic dad
Posts: 4,110
Rep Power: 20 Boy is on a distinguished road
Send a message via AIM to Boy
Re: Please Rate This Review: Valkyria Chronicles

From other people, I hear that the anime is pretty crappy, and that the manga is alright.

Keep in mind this is all hearsay, since I've not seen or read either one.
Boy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump




Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
About Us | Privacy Policy | Review Game | FAQ | Contact Us | Twitter | Facebook |  RSS
Copyright 1999-2010 GameCritics.com. All rights reserved.