Wot I Think: Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles isn’t just a brilliant game, it’s a brilliant Sega game. That means something. Contemporary Sega is a multi-headed beast, doomed to forever bear the wound of its exit from the hardware market, capable of both atrocities (the recent Sonic Boom) and beauties like this. But it has until now, with the honorable exception of publishing the Total War and Football Manager series, never really been a PC developer so much as a PC porter of ambiguous distinction. Valkyria Chronicles suggests that Sega, finally, is bringing its ‘A’ game to the most important platform on the planet.

Valkyria Chronicles was originally released in 2008 as a Playstation 3 exclusive, the terms of which must have recently expired. Lucky for us too, because this is Sega’s near-as-dammit perfect attempt to take top-down turn-based strategy and blend it with significant parts realtime control. Hybrids like this can often go wrong, mixing elements and dulling them all, but Valkyria Chronicles intersects systems in a way that they cover each other’s weaker points. The cherry on the cake is how everything ties together around a squad system that takes account of interpersonal relationships, a multifaceted R&D arc, levelling up units, learning new battlefield orders, and a thoughtful, sometimes dark narrative reflecting on World War 2.

Especial importance is placed on the narrative, with the main in-game menu a lavish reproduction of a history book about your exploits, which splits up the cutscenes and battles into selectable illustrations. Your nation Gallia is a mix of WW2-era Belgium and Holland – i.e. the neutrals – stuck between the evil eastern Empire of Russia and the sneaky Western Federation. Perhaps the most striking thing about this story, however, is that it’s being told by a Japanese developer. Japan’s history in WW2 hardly needs a reprise, so perhaps an equivalent is imagining an American developer making a game about the Vietnam war from the Viet Cong perspective.

Anyone who’s grown up in the west is familiar with how heroic and unassailable our western forces have always been. But here both sides are humanised, with the necessary cackling villains contrasted with their normal, scared soldiers, and the worst parts of both laid bare. The Empire and Federation are aggregate entities, of course, but their actions have clear reference points – some of which are WW2’s worst. Though Gallia’s merry band are the heroes of the piece, the things they see are often grim, and the perspective they have on these two warring giants are unsparing. It’s not exactly Apocalypse Now, but it’s a fresh perspective on a conflict that has a sometimes mythical status for the west.

The beauty of Valkyria Chronicles is that, if you’re not a history or a narrative buff, the book format lets you just jump to the missions in each chapter – a ‘skirmish’ tab in the book offers standalone battles, and at a certain point missions become replayable. The book menu ties many disparate elements of Valkyria Chronicles together, letting you easily flick between headquarters (where all the levelling and research is done), the campaign, and many incidental additions that give the characters and world a little more flavour. This can be checking out war decorations, funding a war journalist’s ongoing chronicle of the conflict (parts of which you can read), balancing out personalities in the squad (they have strengths, preferences and petty bugbears), or reading through the tidbits stashed everywhere.

All of this is wonderful, but it’s on the battlefield where Valkyria Chronicles really delivers. Each army takes turns, and spends limited action points to move each unit – one for a soldier, two for a tank. Before and after every move you view a top-down ‘map’ of the environments that shows your units plus visible enemies, and when you’ve chosen who to control the camera swiftly zooms ‘down’ to a thirdperson perspective behind them.

The thirdperson view is the realtime part of Valkyria Chronicles, where you run your soldiers around from cover to cover and try to get the jump on enemies – at which point you can snap into aiming mode, where time stops, line up a shot and then the attack is played out. So the shooting mixes thirdperson aiming mechanics with the traditional random number generator of turn-based strategy, but thanks to your precision and target choice having an impact on the latter they don’t clash – there’s an element of skill, but not to the extent it occludes the importance of approach and positioning.

Movement is what realtime improves on within the turn-based structure. Many turn-based games are also grid-based, and / or depend on hard and fast rules for things like cover. The terrain here is much more varied and important, with elements like sightlines and partial cover having a greater degree of subtlety. Characters move a set distance every turn but are able to perform one action at any point; so can run out of cover to get an angle, take a shot, and then dash to another piece of cover.

The best example of how the battles blend realtime and turn-based actions is the overwatch equivalent – certain classes always fire on enemies who cross their line of sight, while others can’t. If you’re trying to get past this you can dodge out and trigger the overwatch fire, then when they’re reloading dash across the gap. It’s hard to see how a tactic like that could be turn-based, but it’s key here and feels great to execute – and at the same time doesn’t ‘nerf’ overwatch, because if you run around corners blindly you’ll still get shot up.

This is perhaps the defining quality in Valkyria Chronicles’ design – it plays like the developers sat down and really thought through how every part of it would work. The classes all complement each other beautifully, with clear roles and utter co-dependence. The scouts see further and run faster for longer than the other classes, for example, and arcing lines shoot out with an audio cue as they flag up multiple enemies – letting the slow-moving snipers set up angles, warn of enemy flanks, and identify key target enemies. But run around carelessly and one enemy on overwatch will take you down in seconds – at which point all the info is hidden again. So controlling a good Scout is about getting into position, but equally as important is being sneaky to keep them alive.

There are smart, balanced touches everywhere: the action points both armies have are spread across their units such that if you prioritise taking out ‘commanders’ the enemy becomes less mobile, and the same can happen to you. When troops are downed they can be evacuated if a friendly character gets to them within three turns – which in the fraught later battles becomes a huge decision, and forces you to dodge across battlefields in realtime, not least because you care about your squad a great deal by that point. Sometimes the enemy is closer and won’t hesitate to finish off your downed troop, meaning that the extraction mechanic is a necessary and needed safety net but also not something you ever want to depend on.

On top of this the missions themselves vary greatly in terrain and the tactics required, with huge switches in pace that mean you never quite know what to expect – a long, gruelling trench battle with limited visibility and mines everywhere, a freewheeling escape mission, a hunt through city streets for saboteurs, or a good old-fashioned head-to-head slugfest. This is one more aspect of turn-based strategy that the realtime parts are able to improve on – in many RTS games (not all) you often learn what to do in a level by playing it once and failing. Here you can respond to changing circumstances with a flexibility of movement that makes even the nastiest of surprises feel surmountable.

Finally the outstanding visual style, which looks like cel-shading overlaid with a paper or parchment effects, together creating the effect of a moving pen-and-ink drawing. This feeds into the overarching book theme, and is a rich contrast to the ‘hand-drawn’ overhead map of the battlefield. Layered atop this is comic-book onomatopoeia (‘Boom!’, ‘Wham!’ etcetera) to accentuate gunfire and explosions, clear visual aids to flag enemy combatants, and plenty of incidental effects like wind and feet kicking up dust. There are countless minor effects, such as how the edges of the screen drain of colour when you’re aiming, that give every moment an impeccable stylistic polish.

Such beauty is the main reason why Valkyria Chronicles is a great port, because in-game you can run it at any resolution you want – I was running it at 1920×1080 at 60FPS, but it’s possible to go much higher, and the visual style scales amazingly well. The only exception is the cutscenes which retain their PS3 resolution, but it’s hard to be too critical of this when the only alternative was re-making them completely. The loading times are extremely fast, and credit also for including the game’s DLC expansions as standard and releasing it at a mid-range price.

I said Valkyria Chronicles wasn’t just a brilliant game, but a brilliant Sega game. There’s an element of wishful thinking to that, but for me Sega has always been one of those developers that occasionally touches perfection – and with unexpected, original games. The mechanics Valkyria Chronicles uses are potentially dissonant, but the game is a unified whole as well as a work of real craftsmanship. It feels like a labour of love. Yes it was on PS3 six years ago. But there’s a saying I fondly remember. To be this good takes ages.


  1. BLyon says:

    I will shamefully admit to never getting around to this game. But as my ps3 still lives on, I might just pick up this gem.

    As a fan of the original PS2 Ring of Red, I’ve always been a huge fan of turn-based strategy games with real time elements, and this seems like it might scratch that itch.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Funny enough, the PS3 version is a lot pricier now as it’s become somewhat rare.

      If you have a PC capable of running it (and you probably do if you’re a PC gamer since the port is really well optimized and can even work on integrated intel chipsets,) you also get the bonus of the fairly decent DLC missions.

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        Aerothorn says:

        In the USA, you can still get a used PS3 copy for $14, so it’s not that expensive.

        But yes, it’s everything Rich says it is, with the exception that I thought the narrative, while initially promising, quickly became an amalgamation of anime stereotypes and became somewhat excruciating.

        • Dreforian says:

          Funny you mention anime because there was a tv series based on the game! I started watching it and then decided to play the game first (once I found out about it). The writing in the show is actually a fair bit better than the game’s and the cast is condensed but not to the detriment of the story. It’s still Valkyria Chronicles so it may not blow you away but if you ignore the story in the game and watch the anime, you wont be missing much (DLC notwithstanding)

  2. Mitthrawn says:

    Great game, three chapters into it right now, lots of fun. Seems like previously console exclusive Japanese developers are increasingly warming to the PC, between this, FF XIII trilogy, and MGS 5 all coming to steam.

  3. Tom De Roeck says:

    wasnt Alien Isolation also sega?

    • RedViv says:

      Published by Sega, yes. But not made by a studio that is wholly Sega.

      • drewski says:

        eh? The Creative Assembly are a wholly owned subsidiary of Sega.

        [edit]Sorry, you must mean the difference between Sega as owner and Sega as in-house developer, which is fair enough.[/edit]

      • Tom De Roeck says:

        well, the article names Total War, but not Alien Isolation. might as well just say Creative Assembly.

  4. RedViv says:

    The third game has possibly one of the most interesting conflicts. Not the main on-going Not-WW2 is the focus, but the struggle of a penal army unit on the player side, and their clash with a special unit made up of Not-Jews having been promised their own land by Not-Nazi-Russia if they do their job well.

  5. BarryK says:

    “It feels like a labour of love.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I was amazed when I slotted the disc into my PS3 back in 2008, right from the intro cinematic you could tell it was going to be a special game. Now in 2014, I’ve been in a good mood all week as I’ve been slotting in the odd mission in the evenings on PC.

    It’s a shame so few outlets have chosen to cover this games release (again) this week in favour of the usual suspects. No doubt after Christmas we’ll get treated to another slew of articles from writers blaming everyone from Sega’s marketing department to the average gamer for this title flying under the radar (again).

  6. XhomeB says:

    Being a fan of everything turn-based, I feel stupidly tempted to buy this. It’s just… that anime aesthetic that kind of puts me off a little bit, though I can stomach it during the missions. How much proper gameplay is there? Should I expect lots of “in your face”, cringe-worthy cutscenes with omnipresent little girls or is the game actually better than that?

    • Pich says:

      lots and no. also watch better anime

      • XhomeB says:

        The only anime I recall genuinely liking was Cowboy Bebop. Does that count as “good anime”?

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Cowboy Bebop is the only anime series worth watching according to many, myself included. You just may not be a good prospect for Valkyria Chronicles.

          • SlimShanks says:

            Oh right, so Cowboy Bebop is good, but Evangelion isn’t?! My brain is unable to digest this idea. Also, while I can’t blame people for not being that into anime, or anything else they just don’t enjoy, ignoring an entire form of media… well, it makes you dumb. And ignorant. Relative to those who did consume said media and learned a boatload of stuff from it. Be it books or movies or videogames. And don’t we all rage when someone dismisses games for what seems to us like a poor reason?
            Finally, Serial Experiments Lain may be the smartest story I have ever seen/heard/read/smelled. Ever.

          • Hex says:

            So…I take it you don’t read a lot of Umberto Eco. Or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Or hell, George RR Martin.

            I dunno. There’s probably no effective way to tell someone that the most brilliant story they’ve ever experienced pales in comparison to something else.

          • montorsi says:

            I’m thinking it’ll be a few centuries before “educated at the teat of anime” becomes a thing. Ignorant to the nuances of the genre, yes. Dumb, no.

          • GiantPotato says:

            Ok, what’s the best of the best in the anime genre? I watched Cowboy Bebop all the way through, and if there’s anything out there half as good as that then I’ll happily give it a try. But my God, bad anime is so terrible. It’s worse than a bad sitcom, if such a thing is even possible.

          • Grygus says:

            Kino’s Journey
            Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (the series is better than the movies.)

            I think both of these are at least as good as Cowboy Bebop.

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            Aerothorn says:

            I would add Paranoia Agent to that list. Like the others mentioned, in transcends (and mocks) anime conventions and is just brilliant episodic storytelling.

          • Husa says:

            I don’t watch that much anime so I guess I can relate somewhat. I usually watch a series every few years or so.

            I really recommend the shorter series. They usually have a more structured story and imo they just somehow are more mature themewise etc. But keep in mind that Valkyria Chronicles as a game is on the “light side” storywise, it has lots of silly stuff and it’s too much for me at times, even though it has some good stuff and valid points. But the game is so good that I really don’t mind.

            I’d say:

            Elfen Lied
            GITS SAC (Ghost in the Shell stand alone complex)
            Black Lagoon
            Rurouni Kenshin (not short, but it’s my favourite..)
            And movies, like Paprika and all the Ghibli ones!

          • Fenix says:

            Baccano! is really good and only a dozen episodes

          • Joshua Northey says:

            A) Cowboy Bebop is amazing and is still probably the best anime.
            B) There are still tons of other good anime. It is not as deep a category as say “TV shows”, but it is just as deep as say “sci-fi TV shows”

            Some other great ones include ones include:
            All the Miyasaki stuff (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, etc.)
            Samurai Champloo (Great music)
            Baccano! (Tons of fun)
            Grave of the Fireflies
            Last Exile
            Ghost in the Shell

            Very good but not great:
            Morbito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit
            Serial Experiments Lain (a little avante garde non-sensical and weird, but really interesting)
            Ergo Proxy
            Vampire Hunter D
            Ninja Scroll
            Interstella 5555
            Now and then, Here and now
            Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
            initial D (Very silly, but in a fun way)

          • Slaadfax says:

            While I believe that there no medium is inherently bad, I find myself bouncing off of most anime shows these days. The storytelling involved with a lot of anime involves tropes I find annoying, like the penchant towards melodrama and ye olde exposition cudgel.

            I’m probably just not quite finding the right stuff.

          • Stickman says:

            FLCL. Definitely FLCL. And it doesn’t even take that long to watch!

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            Someone should mention Planetes. Planetes!

        • Bull0 says:

          I saw Akira once. I liked it, for the most part, but I’m not even sure if it qualifies. Anime fans always seem to talk about serialised things rather than one-offs? So I feel like maybe they don’t qualify.

          I’ve got the DVD somewhere, come to think of it. I liked Princess Mononoke too.

          • MrUnimport says:

            Akira is a complete muddle that rides on its enormous animation budget and the fame of its original graphic novel, which it summarizes rather clumsily As a story, as a movie, I think it falls rather flat. I think the fact it was one of the first productions to make it to the West in a big way sort of cemented its status as a classic. I don’t think it holds a candle to the truly lovely Patlabor movies, even if they’re a little more down to earth.

          • Shadowcat says:

            I’m glad to see someone more familiar with the genre making those comments. Many years ago I remember really looking forward to seeing Akira on the big screen, based on all the acclaim it had received. It was an absolute mess, though. I’d certainly never dream of recommending it to anyone. (I’m not saying it was completely devoid of merit, of course; but it’s unquestionably a bad film.) At the time I figured that if Akira was the shining light of the genre, then clearly I should stay the hell away.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            I think you have to grade Akira on a curve a bit because it was a forerunner in a variety of ways. Just as Citizen Kane or 2001 really don’t hold up entirely when viewed under a modern lens.

          • Bull0 says:

            I’d recommend people see it mostly because given its’ relative fame, they’d be likely to, and it’d get them into the medium, and because it’s got a few good bits, but I’m by no means a big fan (I thought “liked it for the most part” implied that while I thought it was OK it had problems)

          • Nouser says:

            Akira – the movie – is visually stunning, but plotwise it simply pales in comparison with the original manga it adapted.

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          Aerothorn says:

          The storytelling in Valkyria Chronicles is not even close to being in the same league as Bebop. VC is heartfelt, it has that going for it, but it does not transcend cliches and doesn’t really try to. You will recognize all the character archetypes very quickly, though the plotting is the greater issue.

          BUT – you should still play it because the gameplay really is brilliant, and there is nothing else like it.

          • SlimShanks says:

            Ok, I want to start by saying again that I totally understand people not enjoying something and therefore not partaking in it. But what bugs me is people justifying their ignorance of an ENTIRE form of media. There are incredible stories in anime, as with all other forms of storytelling, and to think that not knowing them doesn’t matter is straight-up wrong. Thinking that seeing the greats of anime isn’t important is like saying reading the greatest books we have isn’t important.
            In response to Hex: I find it shocking that you would compare Gabriel Garcia Marquez and George RR Martin. This is borderline offensive. Also I firmly believe that despite both being fantastic, Serial Experiments Lain is a smarter concept and story than 100 Years of Solitude. That said the second point you make is quite true.
            To GiantPotato: There isn’t really a best anime, but there are a handful that stand head and shoulders above the rest, in my opinion. Things made by Shinichiro Watanabe (of Cowboy Bebop) are all in that list.
            I fail to see how Akira isn’t anime. Very strange. And AeroThorn is quite right in stating that the writing of this game is certainly not of the calibre we see in anime greats. It’s just good, not amazing.
            Lastly, anime fans who aren’t me bring up Ghost in the Shell SAC a lot, but Psycho Pass uses the same themes and ideas in a much more focused way, plus it features the magnificent bastard Makishima.
            Edit: Just saw a guy say that Akira wasn’t good. You are wrong. Have a nice day. Also sorry I’m so smarmy sometimes…

          • drewski says:

            So…other people have to like the same things as you, although they are allowed to like other things? But they’re wrong/insulting/ignorant if they don’t like what you like or rate things differently to you.

            Excellent. Glad you established that.

            I happen to like some anime, but I can’t fault anyone for not liking it. Just as I like video games but hey, if you don’t, that’s cool. Different people are allowed to like different forms of media, you know. Not liking anime or thinking Martin is as good as Tolstoy doesn’t make you an idiot and it doesn’t mean people are insulting your tastes for thinking differently to you.

          • Nouser says:

            “Anything made by Watanabe” doesn’t hold any longer, not after that clusterfuck that was Terror in Resonance.
            Psycho Pass would wish it was able to be even comparable to GITS. Also, you can argue it touches similar themes to 2nd GIG, but it definitely doesn’t explore the same areas that SAC does.

        • ffordesoon says:

          Yes. Now watch Black Lagoon.

        • Tom De Roeck says:

          Have you seen Samurai Champloo then? or Space Dandy? both by the same people and I think theyre brilliant.

          • SlimShanks says:

            Space Dandy sure is a divisive series. And Black Lagoon was nice.
            @ Nouser: I didn’t even realize Terror in Resonance was directed by Watanabe. Haven’t seen it yet but I will prepare to be disappointed I guess. Also Psycho Pass explores most but not all of the things touched on in GITS, but also talks about a bunch of things they didn’t. More importantly, what they do talk about actually has some depth. I’ve watched SAC and it is a good series, even if the protagonists leotard makes me want to end her life. But it just isn’t that clever. I was surprised all the way through by how many things they just didn’t touch on. ALSO! This is an important note. Literally every idea they discuss in SAC was ripped off, poorly, from Serial Experiments Lain. Very strange seeing as the manga has piles of it’s own ideas they could have drawn from…
            @Drewski: I think you misunderstand. What I stated is that while everyone is fully allowed to like whatever and dislike whatever else, ignoring huge amounts of media makes you less intelligent. If you find that insulting I apologize but it isn’t meant that way. You’ll notice I wasn’t shitting on things that people did like, (except George RR Martin, sorry) but rather disagreeing with people’s dismissals. Furthermore, I was never trying to push things I liked as being better, or people who disagreed as being stupid. I stated that some things were “smarter” than some other things.
            In the end, I just want people to be open minded towards everything, and not to miss out on some important knowledge because of prejudices. When someone says, “Oh, Akira was a bad movie” that’s just dismissing something that is clearly a work of art. You don’t have to enjoy it, but it is an absolute fallacy to call it “bad”, and it discourages others from enjoying or learning from it. And people do this all the time, about all sorts of things. And I I will speak up again, aggressively if necessary, if people are gonna be closed-minded on RPS. It makes me angry.
            Anyways, if I really am being unfair I apologize, and I will try to be less abrasive in future posts, but I stand by what I said.

        • Harvey says:

          No one else mentioned Wolf’s Rain. No other anime (I’ve watched) has dealt with love and loss nearly so well. Cowboy Bebop just has this constant edge of sadness the whole way through you know? Incredible nuance. Wolf’s Rain isn’t so subtle, but its story is touching, well directed and executed, and the music is incredible.
          I’m gonna assume that those kinds of things are what you liked about Cowboy Bebop, since the “main character is a badass” trope can be found in any other anime out there

          You might wanna give it a go, since it has some things in it you may have liked about Cowboy Bebop.

          Skip episodes 15-18

    • barelyhomosapien says:

      Just too add my tuppence to the list of anime recommendations:

      I was very impressed with the fairly recent Psycho Pass (future world where everyone is controlled and manipulated based on their psychological states which are detected using some sort of sci-fi gubbins)

      I’m also very surprised no-one has mentioned Steins Gate, it’s based on a game but the series is also very good.

      Finally Gurren Lagann plays on anime tropes with tongue firmly in cheek and just grows increasingly, wonderfully absurd as it progresses.

      • thekelvingreen says:

        Oh crikey yes, Gurren Lagann is amazing. It’s pretending to be a standard teenage-boy-big-robot Saturday morning cartoon but then it goes a bit bonkers, then even more bonkers, kicks you in the gut about halfway through, then rewrites the definition of “bonkers” before the end. It’s outstanding and perhaps Gainax’s best work, but I am probably biased because (a) I love big robots and (b) I am a sucker for narratives about brothers.

      • apocraphyn says:

        Loving Psycho Pass at the moment. The first season was superb – dystopian cyberpunk at its finest, brilliant characters. The second season is a great deal more violent thus far and not really touching upon any new themes, choosing to retread those from the first season, but I’m still enjoying it. I’d recommend the series to anyone that liked Bebop, and to those who like Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick or Asimov’s works, etc.

    • Ranger33 says:

      Others may have a higher tolerance for that sort of thing, but personally I found it a bit too cringy to enjoy as the game went on. It’s got this story that’s trying to convey how dark and grim war is, but then there’s also a flying pig, a tough chick with a heart of gold (who sings when no one is looking) and lots of silly anime style romance. The gameplay itself is great though.

    • fat4eyes says:

      Get this game. If you enjoy any turn based strategy at all you NEED to experience this one, the gameplay is just way too good not to. Even if the story was about a cult of white supremacists defending themselves from a tide of Muslims, Jews and black people I would still advise you to buy this game, the game mechanics are just that good. Even if you are physically allergic to ‘teh anime’, I suggest you buy some Benadryl and then play this game. It’s that good.

      Fortunately the story isn’t that bad. Yes the story can be a bit too saccharine and has too many anime cliches for a war story particularly in the first few chapters, but stick with it and by the midpoint you’ll be hooked. They pull off a heartstring pulling death around that point and it works pretty well. After that you’ll start caring about the story and it really helps you as you soldier on through the end.

      Protip: In chapter 17 you will need a LOT of anti-tank infantry. If you think you have enough, you’re wrong, add 2 more. You’ll thank me later.

  7. SlimShanks says:

    As a grognard who is visibly grizzled and scarred by years of digital warfare, I have only one thing to say in regards to this games depiction of war.
    Why in god’s name can’t I select troops in every game based on who has the most bitchin’ hair?
    It’s definitely a jrpg, and I do wish that they took things just a wee bit seriously at times, but as I said I am biased as a grog. In any case, this game is storming across my brain and occupying the vital region of FUN. Also, I enjoy having the excellent Laura Bailey voicing two characters in my squad at the same time.
    I’m not even half way through, but I highly recommend this game to anyone who doesn’t despise jrpg shenanigans. The writing is generally ok to good. The characters are diverse and avoid being one dimensional. The visual style is gorgeous and just generally quite snazzy. Just wait until you see the shading. The detail put into world building is phenomenal. Yes, a lot of it is just knocked off from European history books and given a jrpg twist, but it works wonderfully.
    Also, I really wasn’t expecting the strategy/tactics to be that engaging. Then everyone died. Which was especially depressing considering the age of soldiers ranges from 12-45. The challenges are well constructed, (as opposed to “false” difficulty) and winning them at all requires use of pretty much all the game mechanics. This is highly laudable.
    TL;DR Japan/10, would listen to Laura Bailey yell for a medic again. Also the only jrpg with a modeled tank interior.

  8. Laurentius says:

    “Perhaps the most striking thing about this story, however, is that it’s being told by a Japanese developer. Japan’s history in WW2 hardly needs a reprise, so perhaps an equivalent is imagining an American developer making a game about the Vietnam war from the Viet Cong perspective. ”

    I wasn’t really awere of this game until it has been recently it announced for PC but since then everything I read about story of this game sounds extremally worrisome to me, especially with Japan position in WW2 and after war. And Japan WW2 history actually do need reprise, especially in the West and US, given how little general public is aware of what happend in China both from civilian casualties and military perspective.

    • SlimShanks says:

      You might like this. And don’t worry, this really isn’t a spoiler. The only Japanese looking people in this game are known as the Darcsens. They are widely disliked because many years prior to the main story, they suddenly acquired great military power and proceeded to massacre and conquer everything they could get to. One day, a powerful outside force shows up and smacks the shit out of the Darcsens, ending their reign of terror and leaving them without a country of their own, and also worldwide contempt.
      So if you were worried about them trying to make themselves look good… they didn’t. Not that any of the countries involved in the game are real anyways.
      I hope I didn’t totally miss what you were saying…

      • Laurentius says:

        You may be right, thing is that Rich Stanton allegory rubbed me the wrong way somehow. With all American jingoism that is present in US culture, Vietnam War was examined from almost every angle possible and not from some fringes but right in the middle of public eye, something that not really happend in Japan about WW2. Also somehow theme of Japanese perspective as of outsiders to the western part WW2 conflict is for me misleading, politically they were right there from start, but even culturally it doesn’t hold much water given for example all broadly speaking German, cultural, material and ideaological “imports” to Japan right from XIXth century and onwards.

        • battles_atlas says:

          “Vietnam War was examined from almost every angle possible”

          It really really wasn’t. Every one of the anti-war ‘Nam films told a story through the eyes of US GIs on the ground. As Rich suggests, none made any attempt to tell the story through Vietnamese eyes (or for that matter from the US decision makers who committed so many war crimes during the conflict (Fog of War doesn’t really count)). America’s efforts to come to terms with ‘Nam were limited to essentially decent grunts suffering through hell. As such they were catharsis without any true introspection.

          I don’t disagree with you that Japan seems to have done a worse job than any nation in the 20th century at coming to terms with the crimes it committed. Though I say that as a Brit whose countrymen mainly believe that the British Empire is a source of great pride, so it’s all relative.

          • Bull0 says:

            The vast majority of US vietnam movies follow grunts – that’s how it is with the majority of war movies based on any conflict, from what I can tell – but there are definitely more than a few anti-war vietnam films that don’t follow that pattern. There’s a nice list here, of which a few follow vietnamese folks link to imdb.com

            The “essentially decent grunts suffering through hell” thing is a bit too simplistic a reading, depending on which movies you’re specifically referring to (but you did generalise). In Platoon, for example, much of the drama comes from the depravity of the GIs, and the suffering of the locals, but it is told through the eyes of a relatable, “good” guy. Casualties of War is the same.

          • Buffer117 says:

            Oh no, let me go get my stick of birch and whip myself for the atrocities committed sporadically throughout hundreds of years of the British Empire (often against soldiers/peoples of equally or worse acting barbaric regimes) during a completely different point in social and political history not comparable to the world view today, and while also conveniently ignoring all positives.

            Why have a balanced viewpoint when blind apologistic deference to certain peoples viewpoints of the actions of our forefathers is the order of the day. After all…what did the Romans ever do for us…

          • aepervius says:

            Yes there are anti war movie which do not follow the pattern, but how many of those are filmed from the viet cong side ? I can think of none whatsoever.

          • Bull0 says:

            I’m sure there are some, you just need to look hard enough.

            @Buffer117 I didn’t get that bit either but I chose not to respond to it

          • Voodoo says:

            Just to be factual, the US are responsible for
            – the largest (by far) genocide human history has ever seen (the native indians)
            – the most destructive use of mass destruction weapons (the 2 atomic bombings, one could have its justifications but the second was far more morally discutable)
            And, having a married someone of vietnamese ascend, I can assure you that not a single movie I saw showed properly what the Vietnamese population suffered from US army during the war (can you say “Agent Orange”, for example? I knew you could).

          • Buffer117 says:

            Just to be factual @Voodoo, Americans are not responsible for the largest genocide ever seen. The native american population across both hemispheres reduced by over 90% by most estimates since their discovery, but this was by far and away due to the introduction of European diseases , not conflict and massacre (although throughout the last 500 years these undoubtedly took place). The US treatment of Native Americans is deplorable, but also not a one sided affair, many US citizens and soldiers were killed as well, although the percentage is undoubtedly higher (somewhere between 70-80% of total fatalities being native american) the actual totals killed is numbered in the tens of thousands. To suggest that the US are responsible for “the largest (by far) genocide human history has ever seen (the native indians)” is completely factually incorrect as this has been eclipsed numerous times throughout history.

          • Not Marvelous says:

            “Oh no, let me go get my stick of birch and whip myself for the atrocities committed sporadically throughout hundreds of years of the British Empire (often against soldiers/peoples of equally or worse acting barbaric regimes) during a completely different point in social and political history not comparable to the world view today, and while also conveniently ignoring all positives.

            Why have a balanced viewpoint when blind apologistic deference to certain peoples viewpoints of the actions of our forefathers is the order of the day. After all…what did the Romans ever do for us…”

            This is so British I can’t even. Based on my experience, the worst people when it comes to coming to terms with their colonialist history. Which kinda makes sense, considering they had the most successful empire by a wide margin, but still. I can’t even see a person behind opinions like this one – like it’s just an embodiment of a particular society at a particular point in time.

          • Buffer117 says:

            “This is so British I can’t even. Based on my experience, the worst people when it comes to coming to terms with their colonialist history.”

            And this is actually my point, thank you for demonstrating so sucessfully. Why is there an obsession with the population of nations “coming to terms with their history”? Why should millions of people, who had no involvement or control in something, be made to feel ashamed due to their nations previous actions? It is history, it needs to be looked at objectively, governments rightfully make apologies for historical acts but people shouldn’t be made to feel like they should. The British Empire is an historical legacy, it can be looked at objectively for its merits and positive actions but also criticised for its failings and negative actions. I refuse to be apologetic for something I had no involvement in, simply because of the passport I carry.

          • jrodman says:

            I would say Fire in the Lake did a decent job of incorporating the Vietnamese perspective in the American segment of the process of removing western colonial powers from Vietnam. And for a work targetted at western audiences, I’d say it was one of the best.

            But if you mean films/games, then yeah I agree it hasn’t really been done.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            Honestly as terrible as colonial rule was for Africa, it was frankly better than African rule and the last 60 years have shown that. There were real tangible differences in the cultural/political/social capital that the parties were able to bring to bear and while the early phase of exploitation was absolutely horrible and deplorable, it also wasn’t markedly worse than what was there previously. On top of that Western attitudes were changing and enlightening and an Africa under colonial rule from 1960-2014 would have been far better off than one under self rule.

            Of course I am a consequentialist so I think actual human lives and suffering are more important than worrying about self-determination and such. I think self determination and democracy are only valuable insofar as they get you better results. In the case of Africa I think it is clear they did not.

      • timmyvos says:

        People without a country of their own? World wide contempt? Is it just me or does that sound slightly problematic?

        • Joshua Northey says:

          It is just you, they are clearly stand ins for the Japanese. Not everything has to be some political correctness mistake as much as people online are desperate to twist everything into one.

          • bill says:

            I shall take your word for it. Saying they look Japanese is worrying though, as the general trend in japanese manga/anime is to portray other asian nations as looking asian, while making japanese look western.

          • matnym says:

            Hmm, not so sure about that. They remind me more of Jews. No land of their own, blamed for a horrible event (like killing Jesus), limited/expected to work in industry/mines or as engineers (like bankers and merchants). Contempt (antisemitism) on both both sides of the war. Not to mention the most glaring similarity you come across later in the story that I won’t spoil. You’ll definitely know when you see it.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      The game takes hints from WW2, but is definitely not a direct allegory in any way.

      There’s good and bad people on all sides of the war in VC and the only major way Japanese sentiment leaks into is in a theme of “superweapons are horrible things that cause a lot of suffering” which is very understandable.

      There’s zero attempt at revisionist history here.

    • bill says:

      Yeah, a japanese game/book/movie saying ‘hey look, the western powers were just as bad, and besides we’re all victims here’ doesn’t sound particularly revolutionary. That’s the standard line.

      That said, people are saying this game is better than that, so hopefully that’s true as it sounds great from a gameplay perspective.

      That (that) said, I accidentally caught an episode of the anime one time and it was very odd. It seemed a bit Advance Wars, with young girls in kawaii uniforms worrying about teenage romance, while also driving a tank and killing a lot of people in a gritty war.

  9. iucounu says:

    You know what this game reminded me of when I played it on PS3? Shining Force – another SEGA gem.

  10. KDR_11k says:

    I only played VC2 (PSP but runs on the Vita where I played it), in that game I tended to outfit my APC with a flamethrower and stick an RPG trooper inside, that combo was crazy and ended many missions in 2-3 turns. The flamer could overwhelm even heroes and supersoldiers and of course annihilated regular infantry, the APC took only 1 CP to move and had a very long movement range. Antitank units cannot overwatch so I had enough time to unload the RPG, run to the AT unit’s weak point, jam a rocket or two in there and return to the APC before anything serious got launched towards the APC.

  11. Shadow says:

    Since I count turn-based strategy as one of my preferred subgenres, I’ve been highly interested in Valkyria Chronicles for a while. I’ve always loved games like Front Mission, and I’m getting such vibes from VC. Now that it’s out on PC, and not only that, as a good port, I’m even more enticed.

    Question, though: how’s the controls? It’s probably too much to ask for proper mouse integration most of the time, but does it handle well enough on the keyboard?

    • Fiatil says:

      I haven’t played it, but reviews say no mouse support in the menus and very good mouse support in the gameplay itself. The guy who fixed Dark Soul’s terrible port did a port review on PC Gamer that’s pretty handy:

      link to pcgamer.com

    • hartror says:

      The menus are little bit of a pain, retaining a very console feel with no mouse support. In game the controls are fine for everything except driving the tank. With the tank I am continually fighting the mouse and keyboard combination which eats away at action points.

      • Reefpirate says:

        I figured out the trick to this… You don’t steer with WASD, the tank tries to move logically in the direction that you are using WASD. So if you aim where you want to go and press W things are going to work fine. It gets tricky when you’re aiming sideways… In which case if you’re aiming 90 degrees to the left you will have to press D to drive the tank forwards.

        That was more confusing to write out than I thought… But honestly it’s quite intuitive to me now in the game.

    • Shadow says:

      Splendid, gentlemen. Thanks for the info.

      And that PC Gamer article was pure gold. If only the PC was treated with this level of respect regularly.

      I’ll be buying Valkyria Chronicles sooner than later.

  12. RegisteredUser says:

    I actually find the “picture frame” view horrible and wish there were an option to turn it off and see the image fullscreen.

    So weird that this was a clear nag shared by many in “The Evil within”, but here it is touted as a kind of quaint effect.

    • Mitthrawn says:

      I personally like it as it allows me to easily rewatch cutscenes or replay missions (I think, haven’t tried that yet) without having to resort to save files or a separate menu. Haven’t played evil within, so I can’t comment on that implementation.

    • Ringwraith says:

      It’s important to note unlike The Evil Within, it’s a bleed effect, so you can still see things at the edges of the screen, just they’re washed out to pencil outlines, rather than just having sections of the screen chopped off completely.

  13. airknots says:

    Bought a PS3 a few years ago after reading a review of this game. I was not disappointed. If I remember correctly, it was one of XCOM Enemy Unknown’s inspirations, or maybe Valkyria was inspired by the retro XCOMs. I can’t really remember.

    • Themadcow says:

      This was inspired by the original X-Com and the maker of that game (Julian Gollop) has said that Valkyria Chronicles is the game most like what he’d have made if he’d made another sequel.

      That is to say that, original X-Com fans – if the ‘Okay’ Firaxis game didn’t scratch your itch then try this. It really is a fantastic game.

  14. DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Is there another game that looks very similar to this but for X-Box 360? I can remember watching a friend play a demo of a game that looked very much like this one, but he never owned a PS3. I remember there being werewolves.

    • Zanzebanx says:

      That game would most likely be Operation Darkness.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • OfficerMeatbeef says:

      I bet you’re thinking of Operation Darkness. I hadn’t heard of it before stumbling on this article. Seems fascinating, if clearly a fair bit rougher around the edges than VC. But werewolves and Herbert West so that probably goes a long way.

      Edit: Ugh welp sorry I should have hit submit on this a few hours back.

  15. Drake Sigar says:

    Pleased gamers seem to be snapping this one up despite the lack of media attention.

  16. DyingFlutchman says:

    So you’re telling me that (SLIGHT EARLY GAME SPOILERS AHEAD)

    scenes like a 22-year old college kid casually talking with an acquintance about her pregnancy in a merry tone minutes after slaughtering a patrol of enemy soldiers is just the tone at the beginning of the games? That later on, ordinary civilians like all the protaganists I’ve seen so far actually become somehow emotionally affected by the fact that there is a war going on?

    Because after playing two chapters I really like the actual gameplay, but the tone seems very off. You’d expect the butchery of civilians or fighting against an invading enemy force would prevent people from talking merrily about everyday stuff and the fact that your country is being invaded by enemy soldiers to exclude happy scenes like “oh hai I brought you some bread even though I should be leading the town’s militia now that we’re under attack”.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Welcome to Anime, I guess.

    • Xantonze says:

      The tone is completely off during the whole game, it’s disgusting, not “refreshing”.
      “Oh they butchered that whole village cause they were [Jews]?
      -too bad/sadface.
      -let’s go eat cake”.

    • Gargenville says:

      I think it would have felt more natural in a traditional turn-based SRPG (think FF Tactics or something) but because you’re actually running around dodging grenades and stuff the violence feels far more vivid and real than the game’s writing can really handle.

      I mean I still prefer sudden insane tonal shifts to yet another WW2 morality tale but I agree it doesn’t mesh.

    • bill says:

      That’s what the anime was like too.

  17. Buffer117 says:

    Rich the word is titbit, seriously I never new the word tit was considered so offensive that we have adopted the north american spelling of the word….unless you also want to return to the pre-17th century spelling of other words?

    But otherwise enjoyable as ever and can’t wait to pick this up!

    • Arren says:

      …I never new

      Pedantry backfires yet again…..

    • Steve Catens says:

      “Tid” is actually the original form of the word, and predates the other spelling in earliest written usage.

      • Buffer117 says:

        Err I know, that’s why I said pre-17th century spelling, it just always amuses me when british people don’t use titbit, the words got tit in it, accept it.

        • Steve Catens says:

          They both appear within 50 years of each other, so portraying one as archaic and the other as “modern” is a bit silly. It’s just that one spelling is the actual word, and the other is a mutation. The usage has nothing to do with the alternative being offensive.

          • Buffer117 says:

            Tydbit or tidbit is the original english spelling which changed around the 17th century as the word tit replaced tid, tit at the time meaning small. The american spelling of tidbit can be traced back to its origins and so remains tidbit. A British person using tidbit though either has an issue with the word tit or doesn’t know their own language!

          • Steve Catens says:

            Don’t get your nits in a twist. If you’re going to titpick someone, prepare to have your bits ticked in return.

          • FurryLippedSquid says:

            You missed an L out…

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Colonial English is actually closer to 1700s English than English English is. If you know what I mean :)

  18. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times: yes.

    An absolutely wonderful game. Cannot get enough. This game without the PS3’s loading times is bliss. I hope Sega surprises us with more gems in the future. Bayonetta maybe? Vanquish? Resonance of Fate? (please Resonance of Fate). HD Shenmue remake?

    • SlimShanks says:

      Resonance of Fate is amazing. Clearly only ever half finished, but amazing none the less. I love that the protagonists are VERY DISTURBED. It has a fairly standard story progression, about friendship, compassion, and trust. But it’s all built on the foundation of the main characters killing people for money. And using that money to support their lifestyle of buying sweet clothes and sitting around watching tv. While the entire world is essentially imploding. Lots of plot subversion, maybe unintentional, but great nonetheless.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        Agreed on all counts. The game absolutely has its issues, and does seem to be half-finished, but I’ll be damned if that half isn’t tremendously compelling. And weird. I love how strange it all is: the world, the enemies, the protagonists. Of course, it isn’t just that it’s strange, but that it all holds together with an internal coherence that makes the world living and believable, despite being rather bizarre.

        Not a lot of games manage to make the fantastic/grotesque cohere like that. Really quite sad my PS3 blew up and took my save with it.

        It was also a properly difficult game. The combat was unique, deep, and was definitely challenging at quite a few points.

        • SlimShanks says:

          My sister and I also lost our saves when our Xbox got raped by a tentacle monster (gpu broke in dead space boss battle).
          The world was nicely coherent though, wasn’t it? I often found myself in sublime situations unexpectedly.
          Mostly I liked having six scopes and a dozen barrel extensions on each gun which you are holding in each hand while flipping through the air juggling a man with bullets and one liners. Then Leanne says something about how nice their life is now.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Just in case they really are always watching: I, too, would not mind seeing Bayonetta (and other brawlers, Ninja Gaidens, etc) ported properly to PC.

      • pepperfez says:

        Bayonetta is currently wrapped in Nintendo’s smothering embrace, so that one’s sadly out of the question for the foreseeable future.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Yeah, you have to remember Bayonetta 2 only happened because Nintendo paid for it, Sega didn’t want to know.

    • welverin says:

      Screw an HD Shenmue remake, I want Shenmue 3!

    • feelingsunicorn says:

      I would love to see the Yakuza series get PC ports. If only because if PC versions of Kenzan and 5 existed in Japan then Sega wouldn’t have to spend money on localization (which they have stated they’re not going to do for those two games) because the fan community would just patch English subs into the game and I could play the games in that amazing series that I am missing.

  19. albamuth says:

    Played the game on the PS3 all the way through, loved it all the way through.

    My ONLY quibble:

    Each battle you earn a score based on your performance, the classic (Japanese) “E” through “A” and “S” being the best possible. However, the only way to get an S-Rank is to heedlessly dump all your action points into just a few units to blitz through the level — completely the opposite of what a tactical, sensible play-style should be (and actually the opposite of how the in-game tutorial teaches you how to play).

    This does two things: it makes the perfectionist in me reload after I beat a it to try to achieve that coveted “S-Rank” or at least an “A,” because the resource rewards in the game are so great for doing so. Also, it doesn’t allow me to play in the style I’ve learned from Ironman mode in X-Com because I know the game will simply punish me for being cautious.

    There’s a lot to be said pro- and con- for this, but I just wanted to bring up this detail which was omitted by the article, but also I wonder if that mechanic still remains in the PC port (hopefully, we will be able to mod this!)

    • BarryK says:

      There are no “S” ranks in Valkyria Chronicles, with the exception of the Japanese release. While the grade is based solely on turns to complete, to get the best score/rewards (since the grades act as a multiplier) you need to complete each mission in a minimal number of turns whilst clearing out all the leader units, aces and tanks.

    • Voodoo says:

      This is so true.
      VC is probably my most beloved videogame ever, I remember being happy just to finish some missions when I played it on PS3 but, replaying it on PC, I’m saddened that score relly does encourage reckless risk taking rather than tactical sense.
      At least, I can console myself by thinking that low scores make the game just a little more difficult…

    • jrodman says:

      Sadly this discussion of a rank system just unsold me from the game.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        If you can stop worrying about being a completionist it is fine. Just ignore the grading system and play how you want. If you need more money or experience you can do skirmishes.

        • Ringwraith says:

          Getting the highest rank of A isn’t overly critical most of the time.
          It just gives you a bit extra experience and money (the latter of which you won’t be very short of), and if you’re being a completionist, when you beat the game once, you can replay all the main missions as much as you like (and totally blitz early ones with over-levelled characters).
          It encourages you to be quick but careful, like how Meld was introduced in XCOM: Enemy Within to try and get you to move rather than slowly inching across the map. Although as characters don’t die immediately if downed, you have a lot more leeway than XCOM to make some mistakes. You’ll probably feel worse if you truly mess up though.

          Although even if you do think you need more resources for a mission, you can just replay skirmishes over and over if you really want.

          • Voodoo says:

            I think going for the highest grades on the first run of the campaign would trusly be doing yourself a disservice since it rewards blindly pushing your luck and disregarding any tactical sense when there is much pleasure in optimizing your tactical moves and synchronizing soldier actions for best results (and using all the soldier classes for best effects is much more satisfying thant just gunrunning with your scout, actually more running than gunning)

    • Paul.Power says:

      It reminds me a bit of the the fiendish Advance Campaign ranking system in Advance Wars 1.

      Normal Campaign ranks you on Speed (number of turns taken to win), Power (displaying “a show of force” by eliminating a certain percentage of the enemy units all in one turn) and Technique (how many of your own units you lost). It’s pretty much what you would like here, a balanced system that rewards sensible tactics.

      Advance Campaign throws out Power and Technique, and makes it all about Speed. And sets ridiculous turn limits for it. And fills the map with enemies. Making good scores mostly about risky bum rushes of the enemy HQ that sacrifice most of your units to keep a couple of mission critical ones alive.

      I mean, you can at least keep everyone alive in Valkyria Chronicles if you want the good scores. They’ll just be sitting around while you tell Alicia the Scout to move again and again, while issuing special orders to make her bullets armour-penetrating or whatever.

      Still, none of this is stopping me cheerfully bumbling through the story so far, trying to be sensible and D-Ranking nearly everything :)

  20. aepervius says:

    “Your nation Gallia is a mix of WW2-era Belgium and Holland – i.e. the neutrals – stuck between the evil eastern Empire of Russia and the sneaky Western Federation”

    Funny I always thought gallia was a mix of all invaded countries holland, belgium and france. heck even the name indicate that gallia, as in gallic (adj) : the part of western europe which was called gaul.

    • schurem says:

      Its incredibly funny to me as a Dutchman to see the placenames they have chosen to populate their fictional Europe with. Zwolle. Deventer. Terschelling, Texel. Meppel. All just regular Dutch places. Had me in stitches that.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Also the kind of military policies from countries like Switzerland.

  21. sinister agent says:

    To be this good takes ages.

    Didn’t go quite how Commodore had hoped though, eh?

    • jrodman says:

      I had to dig for that. I think we missed this on the other side of the pond, and I’d mostly checked out of the Amiga rags by the time the CD32 was “trying to be serious”.

      I remembered the CDTV and did not take it very seriously.

      • sinister agent says:

        Yeah, the Amiga was very much a European thing. It’s still odd now seeing how the internet assumption is that everyone was playing on a SNES in the 90s – Nintendo wasn’t half as big a deal here as it was in the US.

        What’s quite sad is that the CD32 was actually a pretty good machine, and with better management might have been a turning point. But then, if Commodore weren’t endemically hopeless at managing the Amiga, there wouldn’t have been a problem to begin with. I mean, they bundled the first CD32s with Dangerous Streets and Quik, which put together where almost as entertaining as a kick up the chuff.

        • jrodman says:

          No, I’m super well aware of the Amiga demographics, owning a 500 and later a 1200, the first purchased with newspaper delivery money. It’s just the CD32 that never registered save for stray aminet files.

          • sinister agent says:

            Ah, sorry. The CD32 not really being a big deal wasn’t really an American thing either I think – the machine was good but it was handled dreadfully, that Sega poster being about as exciting as it got.

  22. UpsilonCrux says:

    I’m having a weird issue where the sound in battles seems to be running at double speed; the gunshots and “ouch” noises sound like a cork gun and a chipmunk respectively.
    Anyone else run into this?

    • Fiatil says:

      I believe they released a patch for that already. Either it’s not doing what it says or you don’t have it installed I’d imagine:

      Patch Update 11/11/2014

      – Fix for quiet/off-pitch audio (SFX and VO) during battles.
      – Fixed DLC not installing correctly.

  23. dawfydd says:

    Great review! This was one that caught my eye on first release but having exited console-land at the end of the PS2/X-Box era I’d resigned myself to never getting a chance to play it. Guess that’ll change next payday :)

    As for anime recommendations, Those who I saw mention Black Lagoon, Steins Gate, Gurren Lagaan & Samurai Champaloo are not wrong- they are all fantastic shows. I’d toss in Darker Than Black for black-ops superpowered antics, and the Mardok Scramble features for some unflinching storytelling. From the more recent releases Attack on Titan is just a powerhouse of “ah crap we’re screwed” storytelling, whilst Gargantua on the Verduant Planet is a pleasure to watch.

  24. Kotep says:

    What really impressed me about VC is how amazingly well-optimized it is. I have a $300 laptop with a budget AMD APU that struggles to run TES games smoothly, but as long as I keep the resolution around 1024×600 I get a perfectly-playable 30 FPS.

    Granted, VC is a fairly old game, but it was quite impressive to find that it actually works without any major concessions on my laptop. Though there’s still some porting strangeness, for a game that started as a console exclusive on a proprietary engine, it’s an impressive port job.

  25. Barchester says:

    Valkyria Chronicles is brilliant. I bought it five years ago on the PS3 and have played it through only once, from beginning to end. The fact that I’m looking at these screenshots and clearly remember what scenes are being played out, what the mission was and have a vivid recollection of the maps in which these battles were set, says a lot about how memorable the entire experience was. I bought it through Steam this weekend, to show my love for the IP and to hammer home the fact to Sega that this is something we want and need a whole lot more of. And it will sit in my Steam backlog for an eternity probably, because whenever I’ll pick up the game again, I have a shiny New Game Plus waiting for me on the console.