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Valkyria Chronicles Remastered: Buffing a Diamond in the Rough
Company: Sega

Ever fall absolutely head over heels for a game that seemingly nobody else played? I've done that twice. Once with Psychonauts and again with Valkyria Chronicles. Since Psychonauts 2 is on the way, I can already count myself fortunate. But now I can consider myself doubly so, as the once-PlayStation 3 exclusive is now making the jump to its younger brother and being reborn as Valkyria Chronicles Remastered. I have nothing but fond memories of this game, and my time with this improved version has done nothing but reinforce my feelings toward it. From its visuals to its story to its innovative gameplay, Valkyria Chronicles was a winner in 2008, and it's going to be a winner again in 2016.

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered retains the engaging tale of Welkin Gunther, an instantly likable aspiring artist who finds himself following in his war hero father's footsteps as a regional conflict between the East Europan Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation suddenly and violently involves the otherwise peaceful Principality of Gallia, thanks to its abundance of a precious resource called Ragnite. Through a series of chance encounters, Welkin learns he must put down his pen and pick up his sword... or more specifically, his tank.

As it did in its original release, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered contains some anime trappings that extend beyond the visual style, but it's comparatively far more mature and thoughtful than most of what the genre has to offer. Its characters are fleshed out and multifaceted, and their tales are deeply involving.

We did not review Valkyria Chronicles when it first launched on the PlayStation 3 eight years ago, and it was something of a dark horse critical darling. So it's understandable if you don't remember what kind of game it is. Ultimately, it's a hybrid of role-playing, turn-based strategy, and third-person tactical combat. It might sound like a strange mix, but it's a great formula.

In Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, you alternate between storytelling interludes and combat engagements; that being said, combat is where you'll spend most of your time. Combat is divided into two modes, Command and Action. Command Mode gives you a bird's eye view of the environment as it appears on a map. Unit locations are marked, both player and enemy. At the beginning of your turn, you are granted a set number of Command Points, each of which allows a single unit to take action. When a unit is chosen and a Command Point is spent, the camera dives into the map where the actual unit is and you take direct control. Every step consumes a portion of the Action Point gauge, and you must think carefully about where you want that unit to go and what you want that unit to do. When you start mixing in different unit types, environmental design, and enemy placement, the action becomes tactical and exciting.

I'll save the really meaty stuff for an early review, although the game hits shelves on May 17th, but my impressions are most certainly positive, in part largely because of the quality of the original game and also the fact that the controls have been improved. If you missed it last time around and own a PlayStation 4, you're about to lose your final excuse. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered features the original classic and all of its downloadable content, will run at 60 frames per second at 1080p, and will be available for $29.99. Steel yourself, soldier! Gallia needs your help!

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos
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