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Slick’s Nit-Picks: Valkyria Chronicles Remastered

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered - collector's box

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is what Rich and I have complained about many times on episodes of My Take Radio: a remake. The original game launched on the PS3 back in 2008. It has a cult following but it was not a successful as Sega would have liked. This is one of those rare situations where I say that a remake might be warranted. I can say that I was not able to experience this game on the PS3 as is the case with many. It is also likely that Sega is trying to gauge interest in the series because Valkyria: Azure Revolution is in development. Whatever the reason, PlayStation faithful now have a second opportunity to experience this tactical RPG. Whether or not it was worth it is what I will determine.

THIS LAND IS MY LAND The nation of Gallia has been able to remain neutral as the first Europan War between the East Europan Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation raged. Unfortunately for the people of Gallia, their land sits atop one of the richest deposits of ragnite in all of Europa. As hostilities begin to flare up again, Gallia is invaded by the Empire and pulled into the second Europan War. Entire towns are displaces as the East Europan forces advance in their tanks. The final bastion of hope lay in Gallia's capital, Randgriz. The imperial advance has forced Welkin Gunther, son of the hero of the last war, into service. His heroic efforts as a civilian have him put in charge of Squad 7. Much of the squad have more combat experience than Welkin and they question his authority and ability. He quickly gains their trust by combining courage and strategic ability. Squad 7 may only be militia, but they intend to lead the Gallian effort in subverting the Imperial advance. These people are fighting to regain their homes and their very way of life. Failure is not an option.

The story of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is told by a combination of narration and animation. For those who just want to get to the action I warn you that there is a lot of talking. Much of it can be skipped, but then the game does not make much sense. If you like watching anime you will feel at home playing this game. You will even have the choice of English or Japanese dialogue. If you are the type that always skips cutscenes, I would recommend that you skip this title. The story is a huge part of the experience.

CALL TO ARMS Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is a jRPG in the truest sense, despite its strategic combat style. The entire game is presented as a recounted war story in a book. As such, your missions fall into chapters and each mission is surrounded by story. The cutscenes explain what is going on, how you are to reach your objectives and often give you tips about how to survive. What I found ironic is that for me, I have been trying to complete battles in one turn since playing Dragon Warrior way back when. In this game, it is a requirement to finish before your first battle phase ends in order to get the highest grade. Your battle phase consists of badges on the battlefield map. You use these to command your troops and take out enemies. Most troops only need one badge to move and fight per turn, but your tank the Edelweiss always takes at least two. When you are out of badges, your turn ends and the enemy enters their battle phase. You win when you have either defeated all enemy units or when you have captured their base.

Essentially, the game plays like an active chess board. Different soldier classes have different levels of mobility. The enemy however, does not sit still while you get into position. If they can see you and you are in range, they will fire. The same goes for your squad while in defense. If your team is good enough, you will take out several enemy soldiers while they are trying to advance towards you. Much like Pokémon, knowing which class has advantage over another is important. You should also try for back attacks whenever possible. There are many variables while on the field and you will need to become familiar with them all to maintain your success rate later in the game.

Back at base, you take steps to ensure that deployed troops will continue to make it back to base. Using experience to train ranks levels them up. Soldiers do not level up individually; if you train shocktroopers, all of your shocktroopers level up. The same goes for upgrading weapons. Upgrade a certain rifle or machine gun and that becomes standard issue for that piece. Balancing out  the tank's abilities is also important. You have to make sure that Edelweiss can take even more than the considerable damage it can dish out. When story battles are not enough to level up, you can take part in skirmish battles. For this game, they are the equivalent of random encounters and you can repeat them in order to grind levels. Finding out who and what works for you is paramount to leading Squad 7 to victory.

ME LOVE YOU LONG TIME I was not fortunate enough to have experienced this game when it was originally released. In order to familiarize myself with the original visuals, I took to YouTube. The “bad news” is that Valkyria Chronicles Remastered looks and sounds exactly as it did in 2008. I put that in quotes because the game was beautiful then and the graphics hold up today. In terms of visuals, the in-game engine renders both the cut scenes and the gameplay. There is no noticeable difference between the two and that essentially makes the game into an interactive anime. This version has been mastered in Full HD while the original was only 720p and the framerate is locked at 60fps now. Animation was never bad in this game, but any hiccups have pretty much been done away with now. The new English dub for the characters is very fitting for the characters. You can change the audio language at any time as well. Gamers who also like anime will especially feel at home with this title.

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is an RPG lover's dream. A lot of long-time gamers grew up on classic jRPGs and even though this is essentially a tactical one, it still fits the bill. There is a heavy focus on story and the storytelling makes you care about the characters. There is also a lightheartedness that would feel out of place were this a Western-style RPG. These are definitely things that you should know before picking the title up based upon your own preferences. The gameplay would appeal to any RPG fan, but considering that the in-between animations often contain valuable tips on how to play, skipping them is not advised.

I am very critical of games that are remakes, but I always look at a few things before I start said criticism. First of all, how long has it been since the original came out? In the case of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, it has been nearly ten years. Back in 2008, the PS3 was not doing as well as it was in its later years. This game did not get the exposure that it deserved as a PS3 exclusive. I myself had heard of the game and owned a PS3 but was not able to give it a chance back then. The PS4 is in such a position that this game can be seen by a larger fanbase and get the recognition that it deserves. I also look at whether the remake improves upon the original at all. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered has the same graphics as the original, but the the developers cleaned the game up quite a bit. The resolution is now full HD, the glitches have been removed and the framerate is locked at 60fps. Top that with the fact that all of the DLC is included in this game and you have a budget title that is more than worth its price tag. By itself, this game could carry you into at least midsummer. Were it not a remake, I would say it is a contender for RPG of the year.