In an alternate-reality, World War II was called the Second Europan War, and its tide was turned by a scrappy group of conscripted soldiers known as Squad 7. If you’ve ever listened to the critically-acclaimed Co-Opticast, you will have heard me talk up the original Valkyria Chronicles, which in my eyes was the finest Strategy RPG to be released since Final Fantasy Tactics popularized the genre. The sequel almost meets my absurdly high expectations, and brings along some sweet co-op action.
Rather than follow the further exploits of the original game’s Squad 7, Valkyria Chronicles 2 instead focuses on a young soldier named Avan as he experiences life at the Lanseal Military Academy. Gallia is in a period of civil war, and as a rule the Army cannot deploy to squash internal matters, so it’s up to the militia & academy students to do all of the fighting. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end up being nearly as touching as its predecessor’s, instead choosing to stock itself with your standard anime archetypes and spending approximately two thirds of the narrative focusing on life at the academy rather than the larger conflict at hand.
So while the story is slightly disappointing, the gameplay has been improved in many ways. The BLiTZ combat system of the original returns in all it’s glory, which made me a very happy man. You see, rather than move your units on a set grid, like in most games of this type, you take direct control over your units, third-person shooter style on their turn. They can move a set distance each turn and only stop to fire/use an ability once (unless they have an Potential that breaks that rule), and a good part of the strategy comes from being able to position yourself for a shot, then get out of site to avoid return fire.
The large maps of the original are gone, most likely due to the limitations of the PSP hardware. Instead, each mission is split up into several zones that you can deploy to & travel between by way of capturing enemy camps. It’s actually a really slick system and if properly exploited, you can rush the map and take down your opponent quickly. Maps tend to be reused from mission to mission, but the objectives usually change enough that it doesn’t matter. One of the problems in the original game was that you could deploy a really bad squad and lose quickly, but the new system allows for fast redeployment of your resources. You’re also not required to take your tank to each battle, which lets you save valuable command points to deploy it further into a mission to clean up the remnants or take on a boss.