As time goes on, more top-notch games for the PSP hit store shelves, and a lot of them are puzzlers or RPGs. One of the most promising role-playing handheld games this year is Valhalla Knights 2, which is shaping up quite nicely and should become a must-try for PSP owners at the end of September. The original allowed players to take a party of six characters into battle, and being able to fully customize your party was one of the main appeals. And now, thanks to recently revealed details by publisher XSEED, weve got a great look at what we can expect from the sequel, which is going to follow the same formula. But even though it will utilize the same combat and job class structure, the depth is going to be even greater, and of course, you will find a brand new story that should be both engaging and compelling. Oh, and were also expecting some pretty nifty visuals to go along with this production; PSP software really is looking better and better.
First up are those Job Classes, and for all you fans of Final Fantasy Tactics, youll be quite familiar with the concept. Essentially, you assign your characters to a particular Job, which comes with its very own set of skills, plus a unique balance of strengths and weaknesses. Experimentation is often the key to ultimate entertainment, because you should be able to switch job classes whenever you wish, and certain combat situations will dictate your decisions. Of course, you wont be able to access all the jobs right off the bat. Thats going to require some leveling up and plot progression, and it may take even more work to unlock the truly special jobs that offer a variety of bonuses and original abilities. FFT fans, you remember how you could equip a secondary job on a character, right? Well, in Valhalla Knights 2, you can actually equip three at any given time, although the three sub-classes wont let you tap into all abilities. This adds even more strategy to an RPG that has plenty of depth to begin with, and like we said, experimentation is gonna be a blast! There arent as many classes as FFT, of course, but then again, this isnt a straight-up strat title.
There are two sets of job classes and each has five different jobs to try. The Low Level options are Fighter, Mage, Thief, Monk and Priest, which are all fairly self-explanatory. The High Level choices are: Anchor (like a Blue Mage; can use both Mage and Priest magic), Knight (like a Paladin; can use both Fighter and Priest skills), Samurai (uses 2-handed swords; higher chance of critical hits), Ninja (upgraded Thief; can use bows and special weapons), and Enchanter (magician who specializes in inflicting status abnormalities). In addition to these jobs, there are also Specialized classes that are for different species of character. For example, Machines are obviously in the Machine job they can equip all sorts of heavy weapons like rocket launchers and the race of Canines are part of the Guard class. And if you think the options end there, youre dead wrong. For instance, you can set two different legacy skills for each job, an Action and a Base Skill. The Action abilities have an immediate affect while the Base skills are actually part of the class statistics.
Once youve selected a job for each of your characters, theres even more you can do. Before entering into the danger of battle, youll want to get the most out of your weapons and equipment, so itll be a good idea to visit the Fountain of Modification. Thats just a fancy way of saying you can modify and upgrade your equipment, although were not entirely sure how we will approach this process. It may require money to alter your weapons for the better, or perhaps you earn spendable points during combat, which may be similar to the Job Points found in FFT. Essentially, were looking at a preparation process very similar to a strategy game, and the actual gameplay will consist of something more akin to a turn-based role-playing game. This is one hell of a combination, and its one that worked quite well in the original Valhalla Knights. Last but not least, weve learned that theres a little next-gen upgrade for this PSP title- players will be able to select and customize the faces and hairstyles of any character. Its all about the customization!
As for the story, two organizations are vying for power and pursuing very different goals. One, the Obviam Deis, seeks to destroy the all-powerful Goddess, while the other, the Decem Pennae, hopes to save her. Both are trying to obtain the White Crystal, which will allow them to complete their quest, and amidst all this, the Kingdom of Weiselheim has recruited the Latroci; warriors born with the ability of a witch who have vowed to protect the people of the land. Of course, the main character will be one of those Latroci, and you will set out on your quest with five companions. After establishing the baseline plot, the game will fall into your capable hands, and youll quickly start toying around with job classes and skills. All of this should sound like heaven to role-playing fans, and provided K2 comes through, PSP owners should get yet another title well worth playing. Its scheduled to drop on September 30, and it ought to be a very nice job-laden, customization-heavy treat.
6/3/2008 Ben Dutka