Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Valkyria Chronicles 4 ★★★★☆

Sega is an odd company. One that doesn't quite seem to know what they're doing and likes sending hardware to it's inevitable and untimely death. Near bankrupts themselves and gets bailed out by a dying executive and continually chooses to ignore any fan favourite franchise, and refuse to admit maybe Sonic just doesn't work in 3D. Perhaps we'll get lucky and someday see a new Jet Set Radio, Virtua Fighter, Outrun or Nights. We are finally getting Shenmue 3 and a new Streets Of Rage, though... Hype! Every once in a while, Sega will spawn from nowhere and pull some loco game out their arse, as though they're some completely different company. The Yakuza series, for example, has gone on to be a massive success and was created by the same mind behind Super Monkey Ball, which is another Sega game that needs to make a return (and the Switch would be perfect for it. Hint hint).

Valkyria Chronicles was released exclusively for the PS3, in 2009; with later ports coming to the Pc and PS4. Another -John Cena- from out of nowhere project. Mixing tactic RPG and turn-based strategy elements with an anime-inspired aesthetic that boasted some impressive looking hatched filter and cel-shading, for its time. While the game sold fairly well, it never received a sequel, for the PS3... But the PSP got two of them. The first received a translation and made it to our shores, adding in some new additions to gameplay and for a PSP game was actually quite impressive when compared to the PS3 original. The second PSP game and third title in the series, released in 2011, was sadly a Japan-only affair due to the poor sales of the second game. Then there was nothing for six years... until Revolution. But we don't talk about that game, it doesn't count.

Finally, we got the follow-up fans had been waiting for. Valkyria Chronicles 4 takes all the best gameplay elements and puts them all together. If you were hoping for some kind of advancement and innovation, of the series, you'll be massively disappointed. This is tried and tested, not broke so don't fix it. Also, arguably, called just being lazy in the creative aspect. The game plays exactly like the first, with some minor changes, but with all the better upgrading systems and boot camp levelling up, from 2 and 3. For those new to the series, (and I'll probably make this sound more complicated than it really is) the game plays out in turns. You can make as many moves, per turn, as the amount of CP (Command Points) will allow. Most units use up a single CP, so if you have nine units and nine CP... You can move nine units during that turn. When all of your Cp is used up, that's your turn over. Once you have picked a unit you are free to move as much as you wish within a set amount of time. Each unit class has its own allotted set timer, with scouts being able to travel out further but are far weaker than a shocktrooper.

During my playthrough I found scouts to be quite useless now as they have been made too weak, in Valkyria Chronicles 4, and I was just sending out shocktroopers, instead. Tanks only use up 1 CP, now instead of 2, so Lancers (an anti-tank unit) are also a bit pointless. Unless it's a mission that doesn't allow a Tank. And the new class, Grenadier, is way overpowered. Allowing for a fairly large bird's eye view of the map and an attack that is capable of taking out most enemy units within a few moves. You can get through most of the game just spamming the Grenadier, using the Snipers to take out anything at a distance (obviously), with shocktroopers as scouts and an engineer, to resupply. Making at least two unit types kind of pointless.

It would have been really cool if they'd added a VS mode, so we could play online or even just locally on the couch. We can't have it all now, though, can we?

Bry Wyatt
Valkyria Chronicles 4 at CeX

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