2010/08/31 [PSP]  
Valkyria Chronicles II
Valkyria Chronicles II is the direct sequel to Valkyria Chronicles for PS3. While the BLITZ combat system remains intact, the developers have made some significant changes elsewhere to suit the new portable format.
The first significant change is that you no longer fight on one large battlefield. Each mission is broken up into small segments that can be traveled between. This significantly alters the battlefield making each area into a small combat zone that favors mobile classes that can shift from one area to another without being vulnerable. To match with the smaller map size, you can only deploy up to 6 units per battle.
Next, quicksaving has been removed. You can no longer save and reload abuse until a potential procs or a lucky shot hits. Orders are back, but they are more expensive and harder to abuse. You can no longer stack orders on a scout and send them running to finish a mission in one turn while nearly invincible. This balancing out of the game may frustrate poorly skilled players who relied on these tactics.
The developers have added multiplayer PvP and co-op play, which is a bit of a strange decision to me. VC is not optimized for speedy multiplayer gaming. Each unit needs to move, aim, and fire, which will make for some very long turn waits even with the 6 unit limit. It may end up feeling like playing a squad TPS in super slow motion.
To make up for the small deployment limit, you're now able to customize your units with far more detail. Characters can choose between 30 different classes when upgrading from the original 5. Weapons can be customized into hundreds of varieties. There's also a few new vehicle types to deal with. The new morale meter changes based on your performance in battle, which should reward efficient play. The scoring system remains the same as before. You're graded based on turns taken, with extra points given for destroying aces, leaders, and tanks.
The game progresses month by month. Instead of a straight single campaign, there are a variety of side missions that can be completed before moving on with the main story and advancing a month. There are a large number of missions available, over 100, although some of them don't take very long.
As for hands on impressions, I've completed the Japanese demo that was released a while ago. The BLITZ system feels fine, but the confined maps take away some of the epic scope and strategic depth of the original. It was also very easy, to the point where you'd have to try hard to lose. From import reviews I've read, the most of the game is quite easy. I doubt you'll be seeing anything as difficult as the original EX-Hard missions.
The plot and characters target a younger audience, with less war and more school dating sim. It's definitely got more of an average anime feel and less of an epic war story like the original.
VC2 should appeal to anyone who enjoyed the originality of the BLITZ system, anime fans, and anyone looking for an original turn based multiplayer experience. I don't expect much of a challenge but maybe the developers will have some surprises in store.
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