One of my most beloved RPGs comes from the current generation of games. Valkyria Chronicles was a game that took me by surprise and never let go. Sure, the war was basically World War II with an almost transparent mask, but the way it was told, combined with the art style and unique gameplay, solidified this as a favorite in my library. With that said, I had to try out Valkyria Chronicles 2 to make sure it stayed true to form.
If you played the first game, this release features more of the same, as is to be expected. The question remains how well this game transitioned from console to handheld. Starting off, the art style looks just as good on the PSP as it did on the PS3. While I wasn't able to see a cutscene, the animations during battle looked smooth while still showing the sketch-line details of a drawn picture. I didn't see any distortions or compression problems. It was as colorful and pleasing to the eye as the original.
Gameplay is what's expected as well. At the beginning of each turn, your side gains movement points, which can be used to manipulate the deployed units. When a unit is selected, they can move a limited space, the distance decided by the class, then attack with the weapons they have. There's only one attack per selection, but the unit can be selected more than once per round. The only penalty is that movement is decreased each time the unit is chosen. While moving the unit, they take enemy fire when coming into range. This works in both directions, so even after an attack, leaving the unit in a offensive, covered position is a big plus.
One thing that was different was that the map was broken up into multiple parts, changing required strategy. Mid-map bases were open for capture in the first, though it was not a requirement. In the sequel, they create a set of mini-goals before moving to the final target. This breaks up gameplay a bit more, but hopefully won't lead to a simpler tactical experience overall. On the other hand, if VC2 has the level and intensity of surprises that the first one had, a smaller map could prove just as deadly, if not more so.
Valkyria Chronicles 2 showed off the same goodness that made the original astounding. While not all my fears of a handheld transition are put to rest, I am eager for its release. Will it be as good as the first? Find out on August 31.