Valkyria Chronicles 2 is set two years after the conclusion of the first game with the withdrawal of the Empire from Gallia. Player take the role of Avan Hardins, a young cadet at the Lanseal Military Academy who is trying to learn the fate of his late brother Leon. Unfortunately, Gallia is in the midst of an attempted Coup d'etat by dissatisfied Aristocrats following the reveal that the Princess is a Darcsen (a kind of in-universe Jew) as opposed to a powerful godlike being (Valkyria) she was portrayed to be. Due to the Army's annihilation in the previous game, the Lanseal cadets are the only remaining peacekeeping force for Gallia, fighting a losing war against the rebels. Sega has done little to change the formula from VC 1, instead opting to improve upon the unique hybrid of TBS/RPG/TPS/TD. Maps are no longer gigantic single areas, instead they are comprised of smaller 'zones' that can be accessed from bases taken within individual zones. This serves to make the combat a bit more tactical as taking bases not only allow you to advance further into enemy territory, but also deny enemy movement. Add in the cap of six deployed units per zone, and you have a game that focuses on individual tactics and careful unit placement opposed to sheer firepower and numbers in the first game. There are very few individual maps, with multiple missions taking place on the same map. However the mission variety and the mix-up of unit placements on the maps themselves keep things from feeling too stale. Like the first, there is a myriad of fellow cadets to enlist into your units with each bringing their own backstory, personal preferences and dislikes into both the gameplay and the story. However, unlike the first, the cadets with your unit are actually integrated into the story with them appearing in cutscenes and scripted events. Repeatedly using individual characters in missions will allow character-specific missions to occur resulting in a three mission arc that brings out, and resolves, the personal conflicts each character has. VC 2 is a long game, with the main story arc and the character arcs, I was hitting about 50 hours. My only problems with it are: voice acting can be dodgy sometimes, specifically with the three lead characters. The AI is still incredibly dumb, and the heroes occasionally carry the idiot ball more than once. Overall, A solid thumbs up!
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