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Valkyria Chronicles II: Hands-On Impressions

by Joe Juba on Jun 16, 2010 at 01:51 PM

Amid all of the giants on the E3 showfloor, you might accidentally overlook the small country of Gallia. This fictional European nation once again serves as the setting for Valkyria Chronicles II, the PSP sequel to the PS3-exclusive original. As a documented fan of the first game, I was more than happy put in more time in service to Gallia.

I was surprised to find that, despite the smaller platform, Valkyria Chronicles II feels almost exactly like the original. You'll alternate between an overhead map and third-person view in order to position yourself on the battlefield and attack, governed by your available command points. The units themselves still have individual abilities called potentials, which activate under special circumstances and boost specific stats. As the commander, you'll also execute special orders (some of which you learn from the first game's protagonist, Welkin) that give you a strategic advantage.

While all of those features sound familiar, Valkyria Chronicles II has undergone a few major changes. Because of the switch to a portable platform, the battlefield areas have been scaled back; instead of one large map, most missions are broken up into two or three areas that you'll move between. You can only deploy six units at once now, too, so the overall scope of the game feels diminished.

Don't get too discouraged by the smaller scale. The game still plays as well as ever, and other areas have been greatly expanded over the original. An armored soldier specializing in melee attacks has been added to the line-up of base classes, replacing the sniper. Don't worry -- the sniper is still around, but now the class is a specialization within the scout class. This highlights another cool aspect of VC2: each of the base classes can evolve into new specializations multiple times, allowing for even more control over how your squad develops.

The game will also have have cooperative and competetive multiplayer, but they weren't available in my demo. Thankfully, even without checking out those features, I came away from my time with Valkyria Chronicles II extremely excited to get my hands on final version.