By Spencer . February 12, 2010 . 2:15am
Avant, I regret to to inform you that your brother, Leon, just died. That’s how Valkyria Chronicles 2 begins. The hot blooded protagonist, who fittingly has red hair, then leaves for Lanseal Military Academy after hearing Leon’s fate. Avant sits next to Cossette, the cheerful and often clumsy female lead, in his first class right before meeting Jerry who acts as a rival. Jerry is logical and stoic, the Jin to Avant’s Mugen. These three characters are the lead characters in Valkyria Chronicles 2.
Those three aren’t the only characters. Valkyria Chronicles 2 has a ton of other student/soldiers in class G. Take Nikola the timid scout, Lavina your sisterly mechanic, and Licorice who wants to be an idol like her sister from the first game. Each secondary character has their own personality (some borrowed from the anime stereotype vault), which you can learn more about by selecting event scenes on the map. These stories are optional, but they add substance to your teammates since you see them as everyday students. But, the kids at Lanseal aren’t everyday students, they’re soldiers drafted by the government to stop the Gallian Revolutionary Army from hunting Gallians of Darcsen descent. Valkyria Chronicles 2 follows the students through one year, broken into months. Once you complete the story missions and watch the set events time passes.
During battles Valkyria Chronicles 2 plays just like Valkyria Chronicles. Sega did a fantastic job at scaling the third person shooter meets strategy RPG system down for the PSP. If you haven’t tried BLiTZ before here’s a fast rundown: select a unit, run in real time (a movement bar limits how far you can run), pick a target, aim with the D-pad, and fire. Players get a set number of turns each phase and unlike other strategy games you can reactivate the same unit over and over with a little less energy to move. Soldiers get tired, you know. Command points can also be used on orders, which can power up and heal your squad.
The platform switch came with limitations, though. Valkyria Chronicles 2 can only put six characters on a map at once and the graphics aren’t as gorgeous. However, Valkyria Chronicles 2 feels familiar right away. There are some tweaks too such as breaking the map down into mini-maps and a morale meter. Most maps have checkpoints, flags that you can capture which allow you to move into a new area. Players can shift maps with the shoulder buttons and then deploy troops. While Sega probably split maps up into smaller pieces to make Valkyria Chronicles 2 work on the PSP, this change also opened different paths to victory in some missions. The morale meter goes up when you defeat enemies, down when someone gets shot down, and up when you rescue fallen allies.
Your teammates are in assigned to one of five base classes: scout, shocktrooper (machine gunner), lancers (anti-tank), support (healers) or the made for Valkyria Chronicles 2 shield carrying soldier. The armored class acts like an engineer and defender. They can block bullets with their shield, disarm land mines, and whack enemies with a giant hammer. Wondering where snipers are? They are a solider sub-class you can access by earning merits from missions. Valkyria Chronicles 2 has a class tree that branches into four final classes such as the military musician, a support class upgrade, and anti-tank sniper.
Avant also has access to a customizable tank. In addition to repairing bridges and crushing enemy troops, tanks can act as makeshift cover. Since tanks take two command points you don’t want to deploy a tank until you know what you’re facing. And that brings me to the number one Valkyria Chronicles 2 loophole. Before a mission starts players are asked to deploy troops in advance. However, you don’t have to deploy anyone. You can start the mission with Avant plus whatever other units are required and scout the field first. If you see land mines you can immediately send out a shield unit to disarm them from your initial base without wasting an extra turn. This trick gives players an edge, just like the dash and flag grab move in Valkyria Chronicles. You can’t do that anymore, though.
I’m not sure how well that will work against another player in Valkyria Chronicle 2’s multiplayer modes since I haven’t had a chance to try it. Valkyria Chronicles 2 supports co-op play where players share command points and a versus mode. Sega also added a ton of downloadable content to Valkyria Chronicles 2. Actually, not all of it is “downloadable” unless you count downloading a Phantasy Star Portable 2 to your PSP. Some content is unlocked via passwords Sega has been passing out on the Valkyria Chronicles 2 website. Other items can be obtained by putting Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) and Phantasy Star Portable 2 save files on your PSP. Then there is actual downloadable content on the PlayStation Store.
I haven’t touched any of the extra missions yet since Valkyria Chronicles 2 is a meaty game on its own. It’s possible to race through Avant’s story, but beyond that there are a bunch of free missions and sub-character missions to play.