PSP Game Reviews: Valkyria Chronicles 2 Review

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Valkyria Chronicles 2 Review

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Graphics:

 

7.8

Gameplay:

 

8.8

Sound:

 

8.5

Control:

 

8.1

Replay Value:

 

8.9

Online Gameplay:

 

8.6

Overall Rating:       8.5

 

 

Publisher:

Sega

Developer:

Sega

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Strategy/RPG

To this day, Valkyria Chronicles remains one of the most under-appreciated PlayStation 3 exclusives out there, regardless of how often the avid fans sing its praises. Some of those same fans were a little disappointed when the sequel came exclusively to the PSP, and it doesn’t help that the third installment also seems to be leaving PS3 owners out in the cold. That being said, strategy/RPG aficionados will most certainly want to dive into this sequel; it’s very much like the original, and although I’m not the biggest fan of the new school sim feature, Valkyria Chronicles 2 manages to retain much of its charm and intricate appeal. The depth is here, the storyline suffers only a bit due to extra emphasis on the aforementioned school feature, and above all else, that unique and oddly addicting gameplay is as good as ever. Honestly, if you were a super huge fan of the first title and you don’t yet own a PSP, VC2 might be enough of a reason to snag Sony’s portable.

As you might expect, we have to make allowances for the graphics, which obviously can’t be as accomplished or polished on the PSP. Even so, the cut-scenes are still super pretty and the in-game visuals are more than competent. I was actually surprised at how well detailed many of the characters were, the effects enhance the experience as always, and there’s only the anticipated lack of clarity and sharpness. If you can handle the latter and accept you’re playing this sequel on a lesser machine, you’ll be good to go. I do think there could’ve been more diversity in the environments, though, as there were three or four battles in a row where I began to get a little tired of my surroundings. I don’t remember this drawback being evident in the original on the PS3, which is why I mention it here. That aside, VC2 looks just fine and really, the story-driven scenes are pretty darn impressive for a handheld.

Concerning the sound, both the voice acting and soundtrack are definite highlights, although I might call the effects into question (due to an occasional lack of balance and intensity). Some of you probably know my favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy Tactics, so maybe I’m unfairly biased towards the musical talents of Hitoshi Sakimoto, but the quality and emotion of the tracks in VC2 is undeniable. I’m most thankful this one particular element of the first PS3 presentation carried over; it really gives the game that extra “oomph.” To me, the voiceovers in this sequel are solid, but a bit more hit-or-miss in comparison to the original. There are also less voices overall – again, to be expected – and like I just said, the effects don’t always do it for me. But man, the music is just so perfect and the complete sound package fits the style, theme, and structure of the game. So we definitely shouldn’t nitpick.

First and foremost, I want to make one thing very clear: if you liked Valkyria Chronicles, there’s little chance you won’t enjoy the sequel. The gameplay is almost exactly the same in terms of basic control and strategy; you still consume CP to move single or multiple units, you learn a large variety of new abilities and fresh tactics, and there’s that pseudo-third-person shooter view. It’s all here. Sega didn’t gimp VC2 just because they put it on the PSP, so don’t think for a second that we’ve received a watered-down, dissatisfying adventure. Personally, I’ve always loved the turn-based aspect of the game, which allows you to take as much time as you need to plan your strategy. The controls are straightforward and accessible, and the longer you play, the more depth you uncover. It’s actually quite mind-boggling, especially if you’re expecting some sort of strategy wannabe in a third-person shooter’s clothing.

Some of the uninitiated may get that impression from some of the screenshots and media. But the familiar know better. This being established, I should mention that Sega did make one significant concession to the PSP’s limited hardware: the battle sizes are smaller. There aren’t as many units involved in even the large-scale battles, and the battlegrounds are separated into different sections. You can also only deploy 6 units at a time this time around. Besides that, though, this is clearly Chronicles at its core. Everything works just about as well as it did before, and we even get a few new classes with which to experiment. The combination of massive amounts of micromanagement and the new school sim makes the game quite dynamic, even if I’ve long since grown tired of that distinctly Japanese schoolroom element. It was still cool to be able to control some of the school events by utilizing certain characters in battle; the two gameplay facets are tied together.

When VC2 was first announced, we found out the developers wanted to address the balancing issues some attentive fans spotted in the original. I’m not entirely sure Sega did everything they could do to fix the issue, though, because while there seems to be better balance on your side, the AI isn’t very bright. In fact, it can be downright stupid. Early on in the game, it might be understandable for the sake of difficulty purposes, but your foes never seem to get smarter. This drags the whole production down but thankfully, it can’t possibly destroy the inherent entertainment. Offering 35 unique classes and increasingly deeper upgrade systems for your weapons, there’s actually more to think about. If you’re a big fan of customization and micromanagement, you’ll probably lose hours to VC2; tweaking your characters and preparing for battle has never been so engrossing.

Then you’ve got the multiplayer, which lets you pick a leader and attack missions with up to four friends at your side. That’s a lot of fun – if you can find multiple people to team up with you – and Versus should be a big draw…although I still believe strategy/RPG is best played alone, I freely admit to wishing for a Versus mode in FFT, just to see how my team stacked up against human competitors. And it’s especially great for VC2 because, as I just mentioned, the AI isn’t exactly top-notch and it won’t be overly difficult to get the upper hand. Against a human opponent, however, all that changes. And even if multiplayer isn’t your bag, there’s no doubt that the single-player campaign will deliver the goods. How long might it take to complete over 100 different missions…? I have no idea, but I’m pretty damn certain you’ll get your money’s worth, and it’s nice to have the new multiplayer to add another dimension to the experience.

I’m still not sure about the whole school feature, the smaller battles may chafe, and I wasn’t as big a fan of the storyline. But even so, Valkyria Chronicles 2 is a more than worthy sequel: extra depth, more classes, more missions, more customization, the same gameplay the fans fell in love with back in 2008, and attractive multiplayer options make it a must for those who…well, you know who you are. If you never played the first game but own a PSP and consider yourself a strat/RPG follower, you’ll love it. I would dissuade those who have never sampled any sort of strategy game, but even if you’re just looking for something fresh and wildly in-depth, it’s right here. Just in a slightly smaller and more condensed package.

9/20/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (37 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 10:00:53 PM
Reply

Nice score. At least we'll always have part 1.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 11:25:36 PM

..and Part II for people like me that continue to enjoy ALL that Sony has to offer. :)

Agree with this comment 3 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 12:06:55 AM

I can't abide small things, surely YOU can understand.

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 12:22:50 AM

I know I know, just letting you know I'm loving my PSP (especially now) and I feel sorry you're unable to get into the PSP.

Agree with this comment 1 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 12:44:06 AM

Perhaps I should make another bet with Main-
Event and have him pay up with a PSP :)

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BikerSaint
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 10:19:37 PM
Reply

Sounds like some of you will need a bigger battery, LOL

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godsman
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 10:54:26 PM
Reply

I still don't know why it's for PSP. PS3 should be THAT much harder to program. Sega's Yakuza series sells around 750k per game and they are happy with the sales. Sega still manage to pump a Yakuza PS3 game annually. Valkyria Chronicles sold almost 1 million, how can it not be worth the investment on PS3? The fanbase is there already.

I can guarantee that 99% of the gamers that bought the game were not disappointed, and will most likely buy again.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 11:29:50 PM

There are far more PSPs in Japan than PS3s and it does cost quite a bit less to create a PSP game than a PS3. Also again the graphics engine used in the PS3 version is conveyed just about spot on in the PSP version.

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Kevadu
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 1:21:23 AM

While Valkyria Chronicles did have long legs and eventually sold a respectable number of *copies*, do keep in mind that most (like the vast majority) of its sales were not at the original $60 price point but rather after it had hit bargain-bin prices...

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sonic1899
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 12:08:45 PM

Well at least people will stop calling this game a 'spin-off' because its for a handheld

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NoSmokingBandit
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 11:17:39 PM
Reply

Funny, i just started this yesterday. I was instantly amazed at how well the controls worked, its almost like playing the ps3 game.

They should really consider making VC3 on Ps3. The first game was simply outstanding and i dont think a portable can do it full justice (though i hope i am proven wrong).

I think i heard one person say they didnt like VC on ps3. Everyone else had nothing but the highest praises for the game. I would have gotten VC2 on day 1 if it were a ps3 game.

Last edited by NoSmokingBandit on 9/20/2010 11:18:25 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 11:28:31 PM

VC3 is coming out for the PSP in January (in Japan). Don't look for this series to come back to the PS3.

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Kevadu
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 1:23:38 AM

VC3 looks great, though. While I am enjoying the gameplay of VC2 I'm also not crazy about the setting and story. VC3 looks like the series will be returning to a more serious story, with a few gameplay enhancements along the way.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 11:27:51 PM
Reply

Thanks for the review Ben, glad to read that you've enjoyed the game as much as I have. The graphic style of the PS3 version transitions easily to the PSP. I'm actually enjoying VC2 more than the 1st one.

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BigT_1980
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 11:30:09 PM
Reply

What were the balance issues with the first VC game. I know that a few of the later stages were a little difficult. However I only recall having to play two stages more than once. I think the first one was chapter 7 the one with first appearance of the giant tank and the second one was the very last stage. The only reason I repeated Chapter 7 was because I lost one characters but I completed it first time round and redid the battle. If balancing issues is having a little difficulty then whats the point of playing a game. Having a little difficulty in a game gives me a since of accomplishment. I guess the way some people think they would say Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 and 2 has some major balancing issues. Temjim001 I not bashing Ninja Gaiden I love the games.

I bought VC 2 day one and I love it. I wish I had more time to play it but I am too busy with my full time job and going back to college after being out of high school for 11 years.

Last edited by BigT_1980 on 9/20/2010 11:31:30 PM

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NoSmokingBandit
Monday, September 20, 2010 @ 11:38:41 PM

The scouts were way overpowered and the shocktroopers were only useful in pretty specific circumstances. I think the difficulty curve was perfect though (well, the last fight was a little easy, but whatever).

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Kevadu
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 1:34:28 AM

Scouts were *ridiculous* in the first game. There were some maps I could literally beat with a single scout (usually Alicia).

I think the balance is better overall in VC2 but it has introduced some new issues. The ability to insta-spawn troops at camps you just captured really changes the feel of the game. In VC1 you could request reinforcements (at 1 CP per troop) who would then appear the *next* turn (assuming the camp wasn't recaptured by the enemy) and you could then control normally. Now you immediately spawn the new unit *and* command it for a single CP. This lets you cover huge amounts of ground in a single turn by constantly cycling through your units and leads to some silly tactics like running past a tank to grab a camp and spawning a lancer behind it.

Speaking of tanks, it feels like their interception fire is considerably weaker this time around. This makes it *much* easier to have a lancer just run around behind it to attack the vulnerable rear even if you're just charging from head on.

An APC with a flamethrower and carrying a lancer can pretty much take on anything.

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NoSmokingBandit
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 10:11:20 AM

The snipers in VC were insane too. Marina was always on my team. She had the thing that made the aiming circle shrink to a single pixel so i could snipe across the entire map and always get a headshot. Once you learn VC you can really kick some serious ass.

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BigT_1980
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 12:09:33 AM
Reply

I agree the scouts can be a little overpowered especially it you make them a super soldier by applying four specific orders on them. But people that due that are cheap and cheating them out of a good game play experience. The scouts sucks when have to approach tanks, or several shock troopers at once especially if you are low on CP. If you leave your scout in the open because you didn't make it to cover and your turn is over and a sniper is on the field your scout is most likely screwed. If you have downloaded the DLC you will find using a scout is a little bit more challenging because they are set at the right level for the battle. With many RPG style games if you grind too much you will have a much easier time in the game. The first time I played VC I only played each skirmish only once as it appeared. So my first play through was pretty balanced.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 12:46:42 AM
Reply

How about a VC JRPG, sans the strategy stuff?

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Yukian
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 1:04:13 AM

I think real-time strategy could be better than an JRPG; I would play both if they came out anyway.

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Kevadu
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 1:37:12 AM

The strategy stuff is the best part.

Seriously, if you don't like the strategy stuff why even care about VC? That's the main selling point.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 2:27:58 AM

No! I can see no way for the series to become any kind of RPG other than SRPG without detroying what makes it VC.

An RTS could work better, but I'm envisioning that it would basically become an epic capture the flag match, as you don't really build bases and units in VC.

I know. Make a MAG type game! Have one player dictate what units to use, then a bunch of minions control the units in real time in an attempt to complete the objectives. That'll appeal to the Westerners. /sarcasm
Peace.

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Highlander
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 10:48:48 AM

The thing is Lawless (I know, you're making the same point) if you make VC another kind of game, be it RTS or TPS or whatever, you do lose the essence of what it is. There are plenty of other games in those genre anyway.

In general I am not a fan of what seems to be a gradual drift of all games towards certain genre conventions - for example RPGs drifting towards the action & TPS genre. There are already plenty of action and TPS games, so why do we have to lose the distinctiveness of RPGs by making them watered down action games or TPSs?

As you say though the thought process in a certain development community appears to be something along the lines of "That'll appeal to the Westerners."

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 1:50:51 PM

I don't have a problem with the Strat in VC, all I'm saying is you could take the plot even further. Widen your gaze. Keep the battles like in Suikoden, but have a more personal story as well where fighters get separated and have individual adventures.

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Kevadu
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 4:41:01 PM

No...just no.

The battles are the best part of Valkyria Chronicles. Don't ruin that.

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Milonakis
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 2:04:34 AM
Reply

I kinda want a valkyria themed call of duty. That way I can use my tactical knife in turn based combat.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 2:15:55 AM
Reply

You pretty much caught the essence of the game in that review. I feel that the longer you play the game, the more it grows on you. Definitely an attractive thing. Right now I'm up to the boss battle in March, and after getting slaughtered in two turns I've gone back to level up all of my classes.

Honestly, the third sounds like it is going to be combining the best parts of both games, and given how fantastic they both have been, it's going to be awesome embodied. Hopefully after the third they can move the series back the PS3.
Peace.

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 11:00:34 AM

I keep forgetting where you're from, I know it isn't the states. Here you can get a used PSP for around $75 dollars. I'm going to guess where you live it's near the $200 mark.

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gumbi
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 8:43:00 AM
Reply

Great review Ben. My PSP's seen a lot more action these last couple weeks thanks to this game. Like you said it's translated really well to the PSP. I love it.

I don't get a lot of time at home on the PS3 these days so I actually get to play this a lot more than I would have had it come out for PS3. That said, I'd still like to see another installment on the PS3, maybe after sega's pulled in a good haul from PSP sales and are ready to venture to PS3 again with a bigger market.

And a PSP is NOT that expensive. Our local BestBuy had them on not long ago for 149.99. And if you're savvy (or cheap) like me you can peruse your local buy and sell for them. I'd wager you could find one in decent shape for $100. (In fact, I just looked one up that's in 'MINT' condition, comes with a 1Gb stick, carrying case, and a handful of games. Seller's asking $100 OBO)

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Highlander
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 10:43:59 AM
Reply

As soon as I get out from under FFVIII I'll be getting VC2 (and FFIX). I hope I can get through both of those reasonably quickly as there are about half a dozen other JRPGs I want to play on the PSP.

I'll tell you folks, if you like JRPG games, and having the ability to play hand held versions of some of the bigger home console games, you really can't go wrong with the PSP. I don't know what people are thinking when they favorably compare the iPhone or Android to the PSP. People complained bitterly about the PSPs lack of a second stick, the smart phones don't even have a d-pad!

Anyway, if you have a PSP, enjoy - and pay - the current run of great RPGs on the hand held. If you don't have a PSP, go get one if you like this kind of game, you won't regret it.

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Lotusflow3r
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 1:42:25 PM
Reply

What's the school? It's not explained....anybody?

I think i may end up not getting this and seeing VC as a lone installment. I think Cladun is my next game for PSP.

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Kevadu
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 4:46:53 PM

In VC2 you play as students in a military academy. It's not like persona-level school stuff but it does have a much lighter tone than the first game and more focus on character sidestories (each of which culminates in a character-specific mission). One change I do appreciate is how the side characters in this game are better developed than the first one (which really only focused on a couple of characters and the rest were just extras), however there are so many of them and their screentime so divided that most are still pretty one-dimensional stereotypes.

It's still a very solid game, though. I you liked the first one you should play it.

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DjEezzy
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 2:00:01 PM
Reply

Good review... Does this mean you'll be doing more psp game reviews? I'd love to see what you think of MGS: Peace Walker. Just sayin...

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TheOldOne
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 2:47:02 PM
Reply

This game have kept me from playing my ps3. It is so addictive. Even more than the first one.

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Victor321
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 @ 7:12:30 AM
Reply

Thanks so much for the review Ben, so although I've already got the game, it's nice that it gets another glowing review :)

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robinhood2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010 @ 11:30:04 AM
Reply

I am totally in love with this game. Between this and Kingdom Hearts BBS, I am not even playing my PS3! And that is something.

I have to disagree with quite a few here. I do enjoy the school setting. For me, it does convey what a country could be like after a long war, as well as providing the stage for all the characters to shine.

Regardless, it is a fun game, and multiplayer just adds to the length of gameplay.

I am sad, and somewhat resigned, to see it continue on PSP, as it worked so well on PS3.

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