I had intended to write a full blown review of Valkyria Chronicles until I realized something. I liked this game way too much to just review it but it would probably be a 10,000 word article as I waxed poetic about all of the things I loved about this game and why YOU should love it too. That wouldn't really be fair or conducive to a real review. So instead I'm just going to tell you why I loved this game so much and why I hope it eventually gets the recognition it deserves.
I should start off by saying that Valkyria Chronicles is a Strategy RPG, but unlike any SRPG you've ever played before. All of the unit deployment and management is done on the combat map, overhead in 2D which is standard enough. However, all of your troop movement and combat is in 3rd person, and you have free movement of your troops over the field. This is a drastic departure from the grid based movement/combat of pretty much every other SRPG I've played and it is implemented perfectly. Trust me, it just works. That's about all the technical detail I want to get into, so on to the stuff I deem to be Good.
So just what makes this game so special? Two things: characters and story. Once you get past the initial bit of cheese every Japanese game seems to be instilled with, the characters are extremely likable and eventually lovable. I'm always drawn to a few characters with each game I play, but I found myself caring about nearly every main character on the screen, and even felt attached to the minor ones you only see during combat. Each character has a unique personality, voice and game traits, something I'd love every RPG to have. Second, the story will keep you motivated to see more of the game. There are a TON of story sequences here, some fully rendered in the game's beautiful anime/watercolor technique and some are just stills with voiceovers. All are very well done, with great dialog, even when the game is being silly just for laughs. Hans the Porcavian had me giggling every time he appeared. There are several twists and turns throughout and the ending was very satisfying, even if it leaves little room for a sequel.
There's not much else I can say other than try this game for yourself. It's the best 40 hours of gaming I've played in a long time, and I'm already considering a second play-through so I can unlock more characters and beat my best mission scores. Valkyria Chronicles will not get the recognition it deserves being a niche JRPG and I expect it to be very difficult to find at retail next year. Buy a copy now while you can before it becomes the next Ico on eBay, you won't regret it.
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