Before you flex your trigger finger in anger, it’s a good idea to get to know Lanseal Military Academy, the seat of learning that doubles as your grand command post. It’s here that you select the squad to accompany Avan on each mission, make essential upgrades to weapons and equipment, fine tune your tactics and find out about your recruits. As you collect battle experience from each sortie, you’ll also be able to improve your squad’s effectiveness with a visit to the fearsome drill sergeant. Meanwhile, tanks and armoured vehicles can be enhanced using the cash earned from completing each mission.
With your squad at peak battle readiness, it’s time to launch yourself into turn-based strategy gaming with a difference. Instead of positioning your character and selecting from a range of menu options, as you would in a traditional role-playing game, Valkyria Chronicles II puts its lovingly crafted world at the centre of the action. Once you’ve decided on your squad, you’re ready to deploy right into your troops’ boots, in Gallia’s farmsteads, market towns and cities.
Combat is a tense affair that switches seamlessly between the ground level skirmishes of Action Mode and the bigger picture in Command Mode. You take direct control of each unit, manoeuvring soldiers and vehicles into positions that give the best chance of gaining the upper hand. Selecting a unit in Command Mode uses a Command Point, while movement on the ground drains your Action Points meter, so the trick is to work your squad into a good position without leaving them high and dry. Once you’ve used up all of your Command Points in setting up clever covering fire angles, it’s time to sit back and hope the enemy walks into your trap…
It’s a melting pot of ideas presented into 200 bite-sized missions perfect for PSP, yet with so much upgrading, planning, manoeuvring, fighting and outsmarting to be done, taking Valkyria Chronicles II bite by bite won’t be enough. It’s one of the most intelligent and absorbing games around.