By Spencer . September 1, 2010 . 7:18pm
Valkyria Chronicles II may be on a smaller screen, but Sega’s portable sequel is surprisingly deeper than the original. In addition to tank crushing lancers and health restoring engineers, Valkyria Chronicles II includes a bunch of unusual classes such as the fencer and a bard-like melodist. You probably won’t win a lot of battles just using musical engineers, though. Characters, better explained as Avan’s classmates at Lanseal Royal Military Academy, have a branching class tree. Avan, the game’s hotheaded protagonist, has more options since he can choose any of the five base jobs: scout, shocktrooper, lancer, engineer, or armored tech.
The heart of Valkyria Chronicles II is still capture the flag. Enemy units block the goal and you can shoot them using the unique Valkyria Chronicles control system. Unlike other tactics games, Valkyria Chronicles II lets players run on a battlefield with the analog stick as long as there is energy in your character’s AP gauge. When you spot a solider you can switch to target mode, line up sights with the D-pad, and press X to shoot. You get one attack per turn, so make it count.
There are more “flags” to capture in Valkyria Chronicles II. Sega split up the giant maps in Valkyria Chronicles into linked mini-maps. This change, likely done to make Valkyria Chronicles work on the PSP, also introduces another tactical option. You can deploy a different unit in the next area. So, if you capture a Gateway Camp with a lancer, who happens to be low on ammo, you can replace him with another, maybe more useful squad member. Once you complete a mission you can visit the campus store to purchase items or drop by Lavinia’s R&D building develop weapons. Blueprints for new items can be found on the battlefield, if you shoot the right soldier. Lavinia takes care of tanks too and Valkyria Chronicles II has more modification options.
While Valkyria Chronicles II is a sequel and fans even get to see characters from the first game, the story is centered around a civil war. A rebel group wants to overthrow the Archduchess of Gallia after she announces her Darscen heritage. Actually, the story is really centered around Squad G and their day to day lives. Valkyria Chronicles II is driven by its characters, rather than the events. You’ll see skits of Avan and Zeri bickering, Joachim bumbling, and Anisette’s dreams about being an idol. These high school-esque vignettes are told like an animated comic strip with frames bumping into each other. Avan’s coming of age and stepping into his late brother’s shoes story is quite a departure from Valkyria Chronicles. On one hand, players who missed the PlayStation 3 title can jump into Valkyria Chronicles II. However, some fans may be disappointed that Valkyria Chronicles II’s narrative is more lighthearted. Many of the story scenes are optional, you can simply ignore them on the map.
One of the neat additions Sega added to Valkyria Chronicles II is multiplayer. There are two modes, a co-op mode for up to four players and a versus mode. Fights against a friend can be pretty unbalanced, even when a handicap is applied, but versus mode is a blast. Too bad all of the multiplayer modes are only ad-hoc. Sure, you can tunnel through ad-hoc party, but the feature could have been better if Valkyria Chronicles II supported infrastructure mode.
The way Sega scaled down Valkyria Chronicles is impressive. Valkyria Chronicles II uses the same innovative BLiTZ system with more options for unit and tank customization. Missions are commuter-sized bites of a 30-40 hour game. And there’s plenty of fanservice. Not just Valkyria Chronicles fanservice, Sega fanservice.