When I played Valkyria Chronicles a year or two ago, it became one of my all-time favorite SRPGs. The strategy was great, the blend of real time and turn based was brilliant, the story was engrossing, and the characters were captivating. From the day I beat that game, I wanted to get a PSP, more than anything, to play the sequel.
Having beaten said sequel, I can now conclude that while it's a competent sequel, it does not live up the standard its predecessor set. Don't get me wrong, it's a good game, and as far as I'm concerned, it hit the story part right on the head. Using the same combat system as the first game, the gameplay itself was done well, also. It does, however, fail to impress me with the characters (at least in comparison to the original game) and the pacing of the game. It does, however, allow for ad hoc multiplayer. While I didn't get to try that feature out, I thought it was great that they facilitated co-op battles.
For those who've played the first game, this one picks up two years after its conclusion at Lanseal Military Academy in southern Gallia at the outset of a civil war sparked by a major spoiler for the first game that I won't mention. Your main character - this game's Welkin - is a dumb-as-shit kid named Avan. Now despite having an IQ of approximately 12, he's a damn likable character. Honestly, he, Cosette, Zeri, and Melissa (the two former being the other two "main" playable characters) were the only four playable characters that I ever actually cared about. It's not that there was anything "wrong" with the other characters, but they never really "clicked" with me the way those four did.
Anyway, some guy from the academy shows up at Avan's house, goes "hey, sorry fam, but your brother died on a special mission," and Avan's all "bullshit, bro, i'm going to that school to find out about this special mission and do some stuff!" There you meet the other characters of Class G - the reject class - and they decide to make the mentally handicapped guy class leader. Why not?
My biggest gripe with the game is the pacing, and it's the same problem I have with the first Assassin's Creed game. When the game is going and I'm doing the actual story, it's great, and I'm loving every minute of it. The problem is all of the bullshit side stuff that the game makes you do in order to progress to the next part of the story. Just like Assassin's Creed made you go do random bullshit quests to unlock the next story quest, each month in Valkyria Chronicles II (the game is broken up into 12 months) requires you to do between 3 and 5 side missions before you can unlock that month's story mission. Normally it's something like "This town that you've liberated from the rebels four times already has been taken over again. Go there and occupy this one really special enemy camp. We should probably leave some soldiers there to actually guard the city this time, but fuck that, we'll just send you back to liberate it again next month."
It's not that the side missions are bad, per se. They just feel REALLY repetitive and pointless after about April. I know the whole "But it earns you money to buy weapon upgrades and experience to upgrade your classes!" bit, but that could be done just as easily by having the upgrades cost less and scale it to just have the story missions provide you with that. Or at least make it optional so I feel a desire to grind instead of forcing me to do it. It's like having to read for class - I refused to pick up a book for pleasure all throughout college and my first year after graduation. Once I wasn't forced to read anymore, however, I started reading a lot again. Make someone do something, and they're probably going to hate it.
One nice thing, however, is that your units don't "die." If they get wounded, you have a small window of opportunity to get to them on the field, in which case they'll be hospitalized for one mission. If you don't make it in time, or if an enemy unit gets to them first, then they're hospitalized for three missions (which SERIOUSLY sucks). It may suck, but it's WAY better than having them dead forever. So at least the game is forgiving in that regard.
It's not a bad game. It's really not. It's actually quite a good SRPG. But that pacing, man...that pacing killed it for me. Nothing is going to break my immersion (aside from an idiot sitting next to me singing or laughing during a horror game - looking at you, Paul) faster than a game that makes me feel like I'm wasting my time. I don't even actually have to be wasting my time (you are getting money and experience, after all), but if I FEEL like it's wasting my time, it's going to make me hella salty. This game does that. Buuuuut they did introduce a class that lets you cut enemies in half with a giant sword and a huge shield that blocks most of their bullets as you sprint towards them like a madman. It definitely gets kudos for that.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.