RELEASE DATE NOV 11
RELEASE DATE NOV 11
|Valkrja: Gallian Chronicle - Much-awaited brand new original title from Sega debut on PLAYSTATION3.
|Take even the briefest glance at any image from Valkyria Chronicles and you'll find yourself looking again. The unique visual aesthetic is a sort of anime realism, with pencil-drawn lines and shading, and a color scheme that is reminiscent of a watercolor painting. This style pervades every element of the game and looks even better in motion than it does in a still image. We were delighted with the visual appeal of Valkyria Chronicles when we saw it in action at Sega Gamers' Day, but that wasn't all that caught our eye. An engaging battle system that blends turn-based tactics with third-person action added a good deal of substance to a game already heaping with style.
Valkyria Chronicles tells the story of the small republic of Gallia, which is caught between two warring superpowers on the continent of Europa (a fictional version of Europe in the 1930s). The Atlantic Federation is clashing with the Eastern European Imperial Alliance over a precious resource called ragnite that is used for everything from fuel to food to construction to weaponry. Gallia tries to remain neutral in the conflict, but their large reserves of ragnite ensure that the conflict comes to them whether they like it or not. You'll follow a handful of main characters through a long story arc as they desperately try to defend their homeland against the invading forces. This story unfolds through an in-game storybook, and each page includes expository cutscenes and one or two battles.
The invading empires brought some toys with them.
Sega has dubbed the combat system in Valkyria Chronicles the blitz battle system. The traditional grid- or hex-based battlefields of many turn-based role-playing games are nowhere to be found. Instead, when one of your units comes up in the rotation, you'll switch to a third-person view and be able to run wherever you like in the battlefield. How far you can run will be limited by your action meter, a bar on the bottom of the screen that drains with your every step. In the early countryside battle we saw, the battleground was not very big and a character could easily cover most of it in one or two turns. However, just because it is your turn to move doesn't mean that the enemies aren't paying attention. If you run through their line of sight and within their range, they'll fire off a few shots of opportunity. These didn't seem to be terribly damaging, but they serve as good incentive to move quickly from cover to cover and end your turn in a (relatively) safe location. Your units return the favor to exposed enemies, and it seems as if this will lend a more urgent tone to battlefield encounters.
Attacking your enemies requires you to use a command point. These are represented as copper medallions lined up at the top of the screen, and you're afforded one to two per unit per round, depending on that unit's importance. Attack with a gun-toting unit and the camera will zoom in to an over-the-shoulder scope mode so you can gauge your aim and fire when ready. Command points can also be used to heal, throw a grenade, or use an item. By pooling these command points rather than attaching an action quota to each unit individually, you'll have some flexibility to use more powerful or strategically positioned allies more than once per round. However, be warned that their action meter won't fill up to 100% the second time around, so you'll have to be more frugal with your motion.
There are 50 characters in Valkyria Chronicles, each one belonging to a particular class. There are soldiers, heavy machine gunners, snipers, artillery (tanks!), and engineers. We saw all but the last class in action, and were told only that engineers can help resupply units with ammunition. Characters level up along with their classes, but you can tweak them individually to specialize their skills. They'll also have little quirks, such as being allergic to grass or really liking urban environments, that will affect their performance in battle. If one of your characters falls in battle, you'll have three turns to reach the downed character before he or she dies. When a character dies in Valkyria Chronicles, that death is final. If that character is critical to the storyline, your game will be over and you'll be sent back to your previously saved state.
Your goal in battle is to eliminate the enemy, but there are a few indirect things you can do to help your squad along the way. Larger battlefields have flag points that, once captured, can be used to maneuver troops more efficiently and call for reinforcements if you lose any units. You can also use grenades or, better yet, tanks to destroy walls to expose the enemy or open up a flanking route. In urban battlefields, your units will be able to climb towers or buildings to get a better shot at your foes.
The blitz battle system aims to present a healthy diversity of tactical challenges across a number of varied locations. Though the artistic style may seem whimsical at first, this seems only to underscore the prewar innocence of Gallia, which is swept away all too soon by the ravages of war. Valkyria Chronicles, released last month in Japan, will be coming to North America in November, so keep your eyes on GameSpot for more coverage.
|reviews: Valkyria Chronicles
Our first look at Sega's PS3 exclusive shooter.
By James Mielke 09/20/2007
This is a preview from TGS 2007. To see all our coverage, screens and
videos from the show, check out 1UP's TGS.1UP.COM hub page. Not since Smilebit's Japan-only Dreamcast real-time strategy game Hundred Swords has Sega put so much effort into the genre as it has with their upcoming PS3 shooter Valkyrie of the Battlefield: Gallian Chronicles. A significant portion of Sega's TGS presence this year is devoted to what at first glimpse looks like a collision between Studio Ghibli-quality visuals and pseudo-real-time tactical gameplay a la Medal of Honor, and eventually evolves into something much more compelling than that bizarre description suggests. When we first lined up to give Valkyrie a shot, we were subjected to a verbal tutorial (what is with Tokyo Game Show and mandatory, live tutorials? See also: Metal Gear Online) by a lady dressed up in the style of the game's characters. We also got a taste of the backstory of the war-torn, otherwise peaceful nation of Gallia, which was invaded by Hellghast-style forces. Fiercely proud and independent, an uprising of Gallian nationals tries (via the player) to push back and repel the invasion, using classic 'rock, paper, scissors' tactical game mechanics, played out with a small, balanced squad of specialist freedom fighters.
Using a cel-shaded, sketch-style of 3D rendering, each character looks distinct, wrapped in soft brown and blue clothing, shaded by cross-hatched pen strokes that evokes Studio Ghibli's Nausicaa or Porco Rosso at the game's outset. What initially appeared to be -- courtesy of the video demonstration -- a SOCOM-style squad-based shooter, ended up being something altogether different. Each of the game's characters holds a unique role. The two girls in the game provide the short and medium range firepower, using an assault rifle and a machine gun, respectively; the rest of the group's members, who are men, fill out the sniper, heavy artillery, and tank commander roles.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all Valkyrie of the Battlefield screens.
In one section of the tutorial, a 'food chain' of character revelations clarified how specific job roles should compete against each other. The riflemen and machine gun specialists are best suited to taking out the heavy artillery, while the heavy artillery (with rocket launchers) are deadly and very mobile against the heavily-armored tanks. The tanks, of course, are dangerous to all targets, but have limited range and easily exploited weak points (for example: the power plants at the rear of the tanks). Each playable character has a range-of-motion gauge, showing how far they can run until they either have to stop or fire their weapon. Just like in turn-based tactical RPGs -- as in Final Fantasy Tactics, where you have a limited number of squares to move to -- so too in Valkyrie are you limited by your profession, with the difference being, the movement is handled in real-time by the player. At any point, if you deem it necessary, you are free to press the targeting shoulder button, aim, and then press Circle to fire. Then, by pressing X and confirming you're ready to switch to another character on your team (chosen by cycling the D-pad through your teammate's icons on an overhead map), you can freely move and arrange your team like chess pieces on a chess board, tactically 'removing' enemy forces one by one on the playing field.
Once your turns are done (you can occasionally slip a couple of attacks in during a round, depending on the character, whose movement gauge may have recharged while you operated other characters), it's the 'Enemy Phase,' wherein basically you get to see how the enemy counters -- or at least tries to counter -- your moves. One thing that makes this type of combat interesting is the fact that Valkyrie is not played on a simple, flat playing field. In the demo we played, we were able to send snipers up to the rooftops and take out unsuspecting enemy forces with well-placed headshots (which are great for one-hit kills), while our heavy artillery and tank sandwiched the enemy tanks.
While a U.S. release date hasn't been announced yet, it's hard to imagine Sega not wanting to make their money back on this one. After all, the production values are stellar, and they sure didn't go through all this trouble to sell this game to the 14 PS3 owners in Japan only. So expect to hear some news out of Sega of America on this one soon, and check back for more impressions and info of the game as we get it, well before the game's anticipated 2008 release.
|Previews: Valkyria Chronicles
The amazing tactical-RPG finally makes its way to U.S. PS3s.
By Jeremy Parish 07/16/2008
You're reading an E3 2008 preview, which we've broken into three sections to make it easy to sift through during this week of convention madness. Check out E3.1UP.COM for all (meaning words, screens, and videos) of our E3 2008 coverage.
What's the game about?: A breathtakingly beautiful tactical RPG with a hint of action. Valkyria Chronicles is Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind meets Advance Wars meets Mass Effect. What's new for E3?: We fell in love with the import version a while back, but now it's playable in English! And we're even more smitten.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all Valkyria Chronicles screens.
What our take?: We will probably never see a true follow-up to Sega's classic RPG Skies of Arcadia, but what they're giving us in Valkyria might be even better: A hybrid of tactical RPG and third-person action, wreathed in some of the best-looking graphics we've seen. That Nausicaä/Advance Wars/Mass Effect comparison wasn't fatuous -- the game really does feel like a combination of the best elements of those creations, all mixed together into an experience that adds something new and unique to the well-worn turn-based strategy genre.
Nausicaä: Valkyria's visuals appear to have been based directly on Studio Ghibli's model sheets; the game bears a powerful resemblance to the classic anime of Hayao Miyazaki -- not just Nausicaä, but also Castle In the Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service. The environments are rustic 19th-century Europe, while the military technology that populates the world is from about 100 years later, with modern elements like tanks, machine guns, and sniper rifles alongside armored knights with rocket-powered lances. The game uses the same shading technique as the cut-scenes in last year's remake of Final Fantasy Tactics, darkening character models with soft pencil strokes. The combination of anachronistic technology, cross-hatched art and desaturated, sepia-tinted color palettes is strong reminiscent of Miyazaki's Nausicaä manga -- at once stylish and full of character.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all Valkyria Chronicles screens.
Advance Wars: As in Nintendo's popular tactical series, battles in Valkyria are directed through a top-down map view in which the player alternates turns with the computer. What makes Valkyria unique is that each turn provides a set number of "movement points," and each time a character acts, one point is expended. You can choose to make a single character act several times in a turn, or go several turns without moving an entire wing of your regiment. Units fall into various categories such as scouts, heavy gunners, lancers, and tanks, each of which has its own relative strengths and weaknesses. Snipers are extremely accurate but have low movement and health ratings, while lancers' heavy armaments are tremendously effective against tanks but inaccurate against footsoldiers.
Mass Effect: What really makes Valkyria stand out is the way the player's turn phases play out. The top-down map view is strictly for selecting an active unit; the battles play out on foot. Much like BioWare's Xbox 360 RPG, individual units are controlled in a third-person run-and-gun action sequence. It's much less like pure action than in Mass Effect, though; the game is strictly turn-based. Once you select a character, he or she has a set number of movement points that are expended as you run around the battlefield. At any point in the turn, you can switch into a target mode than freezes time as you steady your aim. Accuracy counts here -- a headshot can potentially knock out a foe in a single hit, and cover will interfere with your attacks. A character can only fire once per turn, but they're still able to continue moving around once they've attacked. However, enemies will be firing at you as you move, so it's smart to scurry from point to point as quickly as possible.
Each unit can choose from different types of ammunition, including standard bullets, and grenades for hitting enemies behind barricades and health. Tanks, which have powerful armor and extremely high hit point values, can toggle between explosives with high splash damage or piercing munitions to take out armored emplacements. Fragile battle engineers are essential components of the back lines, where they can repair tanks and otherwise support the party. Oh, and character death is permanent -- once a hero is downed, you have three turns to send an ally to their location to call for medical assistance or else they're gone forever, Fire Emblem-style.
Valkyria is slated for U.S. release this fall, and fans of tactical RPGs should definitely watch for it. (And again, so should fans of Skies of Arcadia -- its heroes Vyse and Aika are playable characters, making this the closest thing we'll likely ever see to a sequel.)
Valkyria Chronicles Hitting North America Nov. 11
Sega's gorgeous tactical RPG gets a solid U.S. release date.
By Kris Pigna, 08/16/2008
There may not be a PSP version, after all, but PlayStation 3 owners can certainly still look forward to Sega's Valkyria Chronicles -- and now they have a release date to count down to. Siliconera reports that the tactical RPG will ship in North America on November 11.
Siliconera also spoke with associate producer Christopher Kaminski, who revealed good news for people who love voice-over options: the U.S. version of Valkyria Chronicles will come with both the localized English voice track, as well as the original Japanese track. Kaminski also confirmed that the downloadable content already released for the game in Japan won't be added to the disc for the U.S. release.
Now, about that phony PSP announcement (which came about due to a short clip from the PS3 game accidentally being included in a PSP demo reel during Sony's E3 press conference). Kaminski was also asked whether Sega actually would consider making a PSP version of Valkyria Chronicles some day, and his answer is surprisingly open-ended: "Well, you know, the response we got from that accidental announcement was very interesting. I'll have to leave it at that for now," he said. For now, huh? Interesting, indeed.
For more info on Valkyria Chronicles (and to find out exactly why it's a game worth marking your calendar for), do yourself a favor and check out our hands-on impressions from E3 last month.