So I'm about to review Valkyria Chronicles in a long-ass review, seeing as a lot o' you guys on here have made game reviews already and I have yet to do one. It's going to end up being a metric shit-ton of paragraphs. So bear with me, it's gonna take awhile.
Okay, guys. Here it is.
Valkyria Chronicles, an RTS/RPG/third-person shooter exclusively for PS3, is one of the best gaming experiences I've had in a VERY long time. It brings many new things to the table and is a very satisfying experience that will have you wishing the game has no ending. Quite honestly, after I beat this game, it left me hungry. Not because the game had a bad ending, no. The ending was magnificent! Not because it was cut short, still no. The game is a whopping 30ish+ hours. So why was I left hungry after playing this game? Well, this game is THAT damn good, in the fact that you really wish its story would never end. And I know that the SEGA logo on the front cover might want to send you guys running from this game, but this game does show that SEGA isn't incapable of making great games still. Sega does make good games still today. Well.... good as long as they're the absolute farthest thing from the blue Hedgehog franchise (Sonic). So without further or due, let's get into the specifics.
To give you the basic backstory of the plot, the game takes place on a continent "spoof" of Europe simply called Europa. Within this continent, there are two juggernaut, super-power countries known as the Autocratic East Europan Imperial Alliance (also known as The Empire) and a string of loosely formed democracies called Atlantic Federation in the West. And to the North, there is the small, peaceful country known as Gallia. The two super-powers, the East Europan Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic federation, are in constant a dispute for a natural resource called Ragnite, which is used to run just about everything. It is rapidly becoming scarce and it ends up leading to inevitable Second Europan War (Sound familiar...?). The Imperial Alliance aggressively breaks through the Atlantic Federation's borders, attempting to over-run their militia and in the long run, acquire their precious source of Ragnite. Even with its small size, the small country of Gallia, who is neutral in all of these disputes, is also attacked by The Empire. The Empire has many advantages over such a small country and it seems as though Gallia would fall to its knees easily. However this is not the case.
Along with all of this you also start off with a man by the name of Welkin Gunther. He is the son of a military hero, who died when Welkin was at a young age. He has just come back to revisit his home-town of Bruhl, a small rural town in North-East Gallia. When he finally arrives, he spots a group of fish making their way up the stream and, being the total nature-boy that he is, gets out his sketch-book and starts drawing them. He then hears the clicks of rifle bolts from behind him and is told to stand up and turn around with his hands up. It's three members of the Bruhl town watch, one of them being Alicia Melchiott. She hasn't ever seen Welkin before and seeing him enter town, writing in a small book, she suspects him to be an imperial spy, so she orders his arrest and wants to bring him in for questioning. As they're making their way to the center of the town, Welkin is spotted by his sister (not blood related, I'm not going to explain how, that's too much back story), Isara, who convinces Alicia that Welkin is in fact not a spy and that he was coming to help them all move out of Gallia, seeing as all the other residents are moving inland towards the capital for their own safety. And so, Alicia apologizes and lets Welkin go. However, this is cut short for the cracking of Imperial rifles destroys the peace. One of the bruhl town-watch scouts is shot dead and Alicia hands Welkin his rifle and together, they fight off the small scouting team. After coming out victorious, Alicia leaves Welkin and Isara so that she can watch the town for any more Imperial forces. She later comes back for a chat with Welkin and Isara, and even gives Welkin some of her freshly baked bread (she's a baker) to apologize further for wrongly accusing him. Alicia and Welkin leave to head to the center of town and get some time to talk and bond. But suddenly, the sound of war machines breaks the peace once again. This time, with hefty tanks and much, much more Imperial infantry. Welkin, and Alicia fight off a few before Welkin realizes that he must get home to make sure that his family is safe. As he enters the house, he sees Isara and Martha (a mother-like figure to him, who is also pregnant at this time and who is just now inconveniently going into labor) being held at gunpoint by two Imperial soldiers. The Imperial soldiers crack a bunch of prejudice remarks against Isara (who has dark hair and is therefore what this game calls a "Darcsen" (made up race)) and they even talk of just shooting them. Even Martha, who is pregnant! What ass-holes! Anyways, Welkin bursts through the door and knocks one unconscious, and Isara who acquires a rifle, shoots the other. After that, Isara says that there's something that their fathers have left them that will help them fight off the Imperials. And so, Isara leads Welkin to and old barn out back where there lies an old tank called the Edelweiss from the first Europan war, used previously by Welkin's father, which Isara had made some adjustments and modifications to. They set out to defend their home-town of Bruhl and later regroup with Alicia and they do push back the Imperial forces for some time, but the imperials proved much to powerful, for Bruhl was much too ill-equipped for such a force.
Even with their courageous fighting, the Gallian forces are forced to retreat. In the Outskirts of Bruhl, Welkin, Isara, and Alicia look at their destroyed town and make a promise to come back someday.
Alicia, Welkin, and Isara all end up drafted into the militia and become members of Squad 7 with Welkin as the Lieutenant commander and Alicia as the Sergeant. They undergo many hardships and it changes their lives forever. That's as far as I'm going to go because I don't want to spoil anything for you all.
TL;DR (TOO LONG; DIDN'T READ) The story is absolutely stunning. And to think, that was only the first chapter. Along the way there comes many twists and turns in the story as well. This game is massive and you will become immersed in the story and that, I can promise. The character development in this game is also through the roof. You will end up falling in love with all of these characters which makes it all the more sad when some of them end up dying. Each and every character, even the squad members who are not part of the major story, do have a back-story which can be unlocked as you progress.
In short, the story along with the characters are probably the most notable thing about this game. This is honestly probably the best story of any game I've ever played and it will be the driving force that makes you come back for more.
Valkyria Chronicles is very unique in the fact that its story is organized in a book. Don't worry, you wont be reading. You select the cutsecene/mission from the book and as you progress, you end up unlocking new pages and chapters. In the back of the book, there is also a glossary for all of your Valkyria Chronicles needs, as well as a character list, weapons list, and much, much more. This was a very creative approach to presenting the game and I applaud SEGA for it.
During the game, you can choose to go to Headquarters to level up your characters, buy secret extra chapters, change your squad's weaponry, buy new weapons or the countless weapon upgrades that this game has to offer, as well as upgrade your tanks, and learn new orders... The result is an INSANE amount of replayability and it's going to take you a very long time to take advantage of all of these many options.
Valkyria Chronicles is a very beautiful looking game. It utilizes the new Canvas Graphics Engine, which makes the game look like a moving water-color painting in a way. For a majority of the game, the back-drops are done VERY well. However, there are a few slight issues every once in awhile with the game looking a little too dull, particularly in Bruhl's hill-country. Still, graphics are not everything, and still, even with this little flaw, all in all, Valkyria Chronicles does a damn good job at pleasing the eye.
This is where SEGA REALLY showed off their creativity and Valkyria Chronicles uniqueness. The game is an RPG/RTS/third-person shooter??? You heard right. Here's how it works. When you are in the battlefield, you start off with an overview which shows all of your units as well as the Imperial's. When it's your turn, you select the unit which you want to move from the over-view map, and you are then dropped into a third-person perspective. From there, you can move in real-time a certain distance depending on what type of infantry soldier you select. Scouts can move long distances, Lancers move short distances, Shock Troopers move medium distances, tanks move medium distances, and Engineers move long distances. All of this is measured by a meter at the bottom of the screen and when it runs out, you can no longer move. When this happens, you end the action and go back to the overview map where you select your next unit and you continue on from there.
How much damage you do depends on what type of infantry soldier you are, what type of infantry soldier you are attacking, what weapon you use, and where you shoot the enemy. All of these factors will come into play when playing Valkyria Chronicles. And though it may seem like a lot to take all of that into consideration, the game does help you through it very much and you will get the hang of it.
When you are at the overview map, you have the option of giving orders such as: Defense Boost, Attack Boost, Increase Accuracy, Retreat Soldier, etc. You will unlock many more as you progress.
As well as all of this, there's a couple more things to take into consideration. Each character has his or her own potentials, both good and bad. For example, when playing as Alicia, if she is standing on bare soil, her potential "Country Bred" is unlocked which leads to a boost in accuracy. However, like I stated before, there also bad potentials. For example, there are some characters who are prejudice against the Darcsen race so being around Darcsen makes them loose attacking power/accuracy, etc.
All in all, the game offers an insane amount of strategy. This game is not easy, I'll definitely say that. However for the most part, it isn't so hard that you're going to want to chuck your controller at your cat. There are a few times where it does get rather frustrating, but that might just be because I suck at RTSs. I don't know. But even so, it didn't make me enjoy the game any less.
Valkyria Chronicles has some of the most beautifully composed music that I've ever heard in a video game. Absolutely superb. One of the more notable examples is the music in the inroduction. And I'm not going to spoil anything for anyone, but for those of you who enjoy the music, let's just say SEGA will reward you well once you beat the game...
Along with the great music, the sound effects are also very well done. The sounds of war-torn Europa will give you chills. However, there are some lame sound effects every once in a small while, but no biggie.
The voice acting is also very well done and the voice cast does a very good job at enhancing the experience. There are a few lame dialogue moments, more notably the scene where Squad 7 is relaxing at the beach, but they're few and far apart.
Valkyria Chronicles is my favorite game this generation and my second favorite game of all time. It's one of those franchises that needs to become more recognized because not many people know about it and it deserves to be well-known. It just goes to show you that online FPSs, just because they're what's big, doesn't make them the better games. The mainstream FPS games, though they're what everyone's playing, start to become uncreative, and bland with a big focus on online and graphics and very little focus on anything else. This game was a breath of fresh air and beating it was a lot more satisfying than all the online achievements/headshots/killstreaks I've ever gotten put together.