End of a Generation: Top 5 Games of the DS/PSP Era – #2

Here we go: our penultimate entry.

2.) Valkyria Chronicles 2 (PSP)

Valkyria Chronicles 2 is the followup to the cult PS3 hit Valkyria Chronicles. The game takes place in a fictionalized Europe during the early 19th century. The original was lauded for its amazing watercolour art style, strong gameplay, and surprisingly engaging characters. Unfortunately, Valkyria Chronicles was not the hit that Sega wanted. Because of this, Valkyria Chronicles 2 was made for the PSP, as it is far cheaper to develop for it. Once again, the sales were not good enough, and Sega now refuses to localize Valkyria Chronicles 3, a PSP game that may have easily taken this game’s place on the list.

Buy this game! I want that sequel!

Valkyria Chronicles is a strategy RPG. This genre is about as stagnate as they get. No game has deviated from the Tactics Ogre formula of 2D sprites moving and attacking over a grid, or Fire Emblem’s tactical grid system. Every Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics, Jeanne D’Arc, Devil Survivor, etc. follow the exact same gameplay conventions. Valkyria Chronicles chose to innovate where nobody else would. Its gameplay consists of a tactical map phase and a movement phase. During the movement phase, you enter into the character you selected and move them through a 3D world to attack, or simply to move closer to their objective. After you’ve used up all of your command points, the enemy turn begins and they do the same. This makes the game very tactical. You know when the enemy will be attacking, so do you focus on blitzing to your objective or steadily progressing making sure you have adequate defences.

Shoot its weak point for massive damage?

The original Valkyria Chronicles had experience used to level up characters and hidden potentials for each individual character which were unlockable. Valkyria Chronicles 2 ramps up the RPG elements of the game by allowing branching class paths, class specific potentials, an extensive equipment upgrade option, as well as all of the elements of the original. Potentials are special skills that can trigger in battle to give the character an advantage, which are unique to each character, and they are one of the driving forces in the game. There are many, many characters to choose from in this game, but they all have a unique set of potentials as well as a unique personality. There are no useless mute characters in this game. Because of this, players are encouraged to choose characters they like and develop them in order to see what hidden potentials unlock as you upgrade their class.

One of these people is an undercover cop posing as a student looking for illegal drugs. Try to guess which one.

The story takes a bit of a dip of maturity from the original. It is set in a military academy with the main character being the class slacker who steps up to the plate and takes a leadership role. In other words, the game is full of anime tropes. As simple and light as the story starts, it matures over the course of the game. This game features a civil war in the fictional country of Gallia. The archduchess has revealed herself to be a Darcsen (Equivalent to being Jewish in World War 2 Germany), and some of the aristocracy has splintered off in order to take over the country and purge the hated race. The game deals with war and racism the way that no World War 2 game does (Which is surprising now that I think about it). Unlike the last game, Valkyria Chronicles 2 doesn’t get lost in a love story, but the naive positivity of the main character does occasionally undermine the harsher messages.

Nothing distracting in this image.

In video games, gameplay is king. A good story will only enhance a game so far and without strong gameplay the game is doomed to obscurity. Valkyria Chronicles delivers the best gameplay experience on the PSP. The controls are tight, the action is packed, the levels are strongly designed and there are loads of them. With so many characters, a player can easily get addicted and play these levels over and over again for parts, and promotions, as well as striving for higher rankings in the mission. For having exceptional gameplay and a story to back it up, Valkyria Chronicles 2 is my number 2 pick.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


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