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Valkyria Chronicles 2 Hands On Impressions

How does the PSP sequel hold up to the PS3 original?


If you were concerned about a possible dumbing down of the franchise when Sega announced a Valkyria Chronicles sequel for the PSP rather than the PS3, you can probably stop your worrying now. The Valkyria Chronicles 2 Tokyo Game Show demo proved to me that portable players can look forward to a fine strategy title early next year. It may even live up to the high standard set by the original.

Sega had an elaborate TGS showing for the game. After a thirty minute line -- one of the longest lines I encountered during the show's press days -- I was ushered along with a group of about 15 others into a small theater. Here, a lady dressed like one of the game world's students welcomed us to Lanseal Military Academy and played two introductory videos, one detailing the events of the original and another providing tips both for Valkyria beginners and for those who might not necessarily be familiar with Valkyria 2's new systems. Those new systems would play a central role in the upcoming demo.

Valkyria Chronicles 2 on display at the Tokyo Game Show.

Following the theater, we were lead to individual PSP units to try out the game. Everyone had access to the same demo stage, a battle set on two small fields.

As a new feature for Valkyria 2, the battlefields are now split into multiple areas. The demo started you off on one of those areas. Capture the enemy flag in that area, and you gained access to the other area.

The flag serves as a teleporter of sorts for your units. Once a unit reaches the flag, you can send the unit away from the battle field and back into your reserve. From the Command Mode screen, you can then deploy that unit onto the new battle field. You can also, of course, deploy any other reserve units onto the new field.

There's been some debate as to whether the map split is actually a new feature or just a method for coping with the PSP's lesser specifications. Regardless of the original thinking behind the multi map approach, there's some clear potential for added strategy. This wasn't demonstrated in the demo, but it's easy to imagine situations where you'll have to carefully split your units between multiple fields.

The Command Mode map lets you switch between areas by tapping the L and R triggers.

Outside of the multiple maps, the Valkyria 2 demo seemed to replicate the brilliant mix of strategy and action that was so successfully implemented in the original.

You'll have to make use of three types of units -- standard troops, tanks, and tank-busting lancers -- which exist in a triangular relationship of who can destroy who. All three of these were included in the demo.

There's more to game's the strategy than just position, as the route you take to defeat your enemy can have a major effect on your success. In the demo's first map, you could work your way to a ladder which, when climbed, took you to a position behind enemy troops, allowing for an easy kill.

The game's unique visual style holds up well on the PSP.

The action layer that covers the game's strategy is here in full form. You physically move your troops around, ducking behind cover when being shot at, and directly taking aim with the analogue pad. From what I could see, the PSP's more restricted control options don't adversely affect the game.

Despite being limited to a basic mission, the Tokyo Game Show Valkyria Chronicles 2 demo served as a great indicator that we can expect a quality final product come late January.

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