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This review was submitted by Cameron Chu. If you’ve played Valkyria Chronicles, or just want to ask Cameron more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
On the outset it appears that Sega have made another generic J-RPG, and in many respects it is. With its anime-like appearance, linear story and a turn-based battle system, how can it not? Yet they have done the unfathomable; combining with it the qualities of a third-person action shooter.
Production values: In one word, awesome. Everything, from the cut scenes to the in-game, is visually superb. Top that up with some neat sketch-like shading effects, and the result is a refreshingly live and colourful game that just oozes with expression and charm.
Soap opera: Really, who cares if the story has the depth of a soap opera? It's mind numbingly enjoyable to watch, even if it is a dumbed down story of WWII minus Japan and the inclusion of a strangely powerful Belgium. It may be clichéd, but unless you're void of all emotion you'll still be pulling at the heart strings as you watch that unavoidable romance between the two main characters unfold before your eyes.
Turn-based strategy with feelings: The third-person twist truly does set the game apart. Instead of looking from a traditional top down perspective, you are brought down to the grounds of WWII in all its grittiness and its glory in the view of the soldier. Although this is offset by the ridiculous, such as units being able to survive streams of bullets, the change in perspective does lead to an emotional experience.
The worst of both worlds: The precise demands of turn-based strategy combined with the unpredictability of a third-person shooter creates a rather shaky synergy. Things that could have been judged from a top down perspective are no longer present. You are unable to clearly determine the distance a unit can go, leading to wasted turns. Third-person elements have also meant that there is a heavy element of chance involved; coming from the inaccuracies of shooting, or an opposing unit spontaneously dodging. Uncertainty is born, and the horrors of trial and error ensue.
Inefficient: The interface is just all over the place. It makes the most basic demands a bother to do, whether it's customising or even saving. The plethora of loading times that lie in wait after every decision doesn't exactly help either. It is an overly bureaucratic system that is simply annoying.
Despite a few nuances, Valkyria Chronicles is a great game. Although its problems are indeed frustrating, they are not enough to make them the issue that defines it. If you are tolerant of the J-RPG genre, and can grasp the differences that stem from it being a third-person shooter, then this is a game that simply can not be ignored.
Reviewed by: Cameron Chu
You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 300 words - yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.