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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 12, 2010
The Good
+Much of the gameplay in the first game has been expanded upon
+There are a ton of missions for you to tackle and enjoy
+A large cast of characters the game really tries to develop
+A very good soundtrack
+Despite being watered down for the PSP, the visuals are still pretty good

The Bad
-The difficulty is, at times, unbalanced
-The Voice Acting can be annoying
-There isn't much attention put into the story, and it's probably because so much of the focus was put into the gameplay. It's very easy to be distracted from the story.


When the first Valkyria Chronicles came out in 2008 it crept into the gaming market quietly while other games were breaking down the door. As a result, Valkyria Chronicles didn't make a big splash at first. In spite of this, however, good critical reception and word of mouth helped Valkyria Chronicles gain a small cult following and become a successful game. Enough to allow for a sequel on the PSP. Valkyria Chronicles 2 is finally here. And while it isn't quite as good as the first in some respects, it's better in others.

The second game focuses on Avan, a young man who has just discovered that his brother Leon, who was attending a military academy, has been killed. But the messenger doesn't want to tell him why. So he decides to enroll in the academy himself to find out. As Avan is discovering what has happened to his brother there is a rebel faction rising in Gallia because the Archduchess has just revealed she's a Darcsen. And Darcsen's aren't looked upon fondly by the rebels. This is bad because it means there could be a civil war soon if these rebels aren't stopped. Gallia has enjoyed two years of piece since Squad 7 pushed the Empire out, and now it seems like the country is on the brink of civil war.

The good news about Valkyria Chronicles 2's story is that you can jump right in. You don't have to play or know the story of the first game in order to grasp Valkyria Chronicles 2. While it has an interesting premise it's unfortunate you're not likely to get sucked into Valkyria Chronicles 2's story. The story doesn't have the same kind of pull or intrigue of the first game. You're stuck in the shoes of Avan for the game, but it's hard to want to care that strongly about him or his squad. The game spends a lot of time reminding you that he and his squad are a bunch of slackers and it's just too easy to be distracted from the story. What Valkyria Chronicles 2 lacks in story it more than makes up for in gameplay. That is where Valkyria Chronicles 2 shines the most.

Unlike the first game, Valkyria Chronicles 2 isn't completely linear. Instead of following the story with each new mission, you're given a list to choose from. And the story missions aren't always available until you do certain key missions first. This explains just why story isn't that important in Valkyria Chronicles 2. There is too much to do outside of the story that it's easy to be distracted from it. When you have to do two or three missions before a story mission... but also have six or seven optional ones to choose from, it's easy to put the story on the back burner. Even then, you'll find that you can buy missions and that you can also do character specific missions. There's A LOT to do outside of the story this time around. Valkyria Chronicles 2 clearly wants to showcase its gameplay.

The mechanics of the gameplay haven't changed much from the first to the second. You'll send a series of units into the field. There is a 2D map where you can select any unit you want before it goes to a 3D view where you can freely roam so long as you have the AP in your AP gauge to do so. When you find an enemy you can stop and shoot. The closer you are the better your chances of hitting. Valkyria Chronicles 2 adds a couple of things to the mix of all this. The first and most obvious of which is that missions take place on more than one map for any given mission. You'll have to capture bases to go to other maps. Another addition it morale. As you play you'll notice that your morale increases whenever you do something good such as take down enemy troops or capture bases. Higher morale increases the chances of character potentials coming out. But it'll decrease if one of your bases gets captured or if your troops go down. If your morale drops to zero the mission ends, regardless of whether or not you have troops on the map. Unfortunately... that's the thing about morale, aside from that it doesn't really add a lot to the experience. In fact, it's quite easy to forget about it.

Each mission has its own kinds of objectives. Sometimes the objective is to take out all the units, sometimes it's to get to a marching point (Or escorting someone to a specific point) or to gather supplies. Sometimes it's to take out the supreme commander... but most times the mission is just to capture the enemy base and get it over with. There are also lesser bases to capture so that you can call in and dismiss units as you see fit. It's a fairly good system. And still manages to be unique because there are still not that many games (if any) like it.

There are other new things added to the game. You can still show you're strategic chops by sending in swift Scouts, machine gun toting Shocktroopers, tank blasting Lancers, health restoring Engineers and mine disarming technicians, but each character in each class can also upgrade to become something bigger by gaining specific credits in battle. Such as how many enemies you dispatch or something like that. If you do that, you can eventually use your credits to upgrade each class. For example, you can upgrade a Scout to being a Veteran Scout or you can make him a Sniper. From Veteran Scout or Sniper you can go up another tier. It adds a bit of variety and customization to the game. But there is also still a squad focus. Characters can raise in tiers of a specific class individually, but each class still levels up together. If you upgrade a scout to level 5, for instance... EVERY Scout (and any tier related to Scout) will be level 5. It actually works out rather well. There's a focus on characters as individuals (upgrading classes and unlocking potentials) and then there's as a class (upgrading all your Scouts levels together). The game works in such a way that you actually can afford to pick favorites if you like.

There are still a few hiccups with the enemy AI. Some missions CAN be tough... if there's a boss on the map. On the other hand in those missions where there aren't, the AI can be ridiculously stupid. You'll see enemy units run into... well... nothing and just stop for no reason at all. Enemies never take advantage of most of your own shortcomings. In moments when they have a chance to capture a base, for instance, they'll stop just outside of it. They'll end their turns prematurely. Normal grunts pose almost no threat because they rarely want to become one. That doesn't mean there is no challenge to Valkyria Chronicles 2. Some missions are quite challenging because there's so much thrown at you. In particular, missions with boss enemies (or other special units) can be challenging. If the grunts are too dumb, the boss enemies can sometimes be relentless and overpowered. They'll dodge attacks without hesitation, they do enormous damage and you'll find some of them can move all over the place. It gives Valkyria Chronicles 2 a challenge, though sometimes it makes the difficulty unbalanced. You'll go into really easy missions that are quickly followed by missions that can be relentless because there's a boss character on the map you didn't plan for. It can reduce some missions to trial and error.

There are SEVERAL characters in Valkyria Chronicles 2. You don't simply find nameless "Scouts". Every character actually has a name and a personality. And yes, their personality actually plays a part in battle. Every character has "potentials". Some of them do things for you like increase their attack or accuracy etc. They're not all positive, however. Sometimes you have characters whose potential is that they get nervous in battle and thus get scared and so their defense may drop or they may not like a certain environment. It's actually pretty cool stuff. Likewise, characters actually like other characters too, and if you send them in battle together there is a bigger chance that they'll help those nearby allies whenever they decide to attack an enemy.

The game also tries to develop them outside of battle. As you roam the academy there will be short snippets that are there for no other reason than to give you a better clue of who some of your characters are. It's nice that Valkyria Chronicles 2 wants to develop ALL of its cast, but there are just too many characters. The game gives you over twenty right off the bat. And more recruits keep coming in throughout the game. It's great that they have different personalities, but it also explains more why the story is in the background. That's part of what makes the story so empty. The game doesn't even opt to pay much attention to it, even when you have exchanges with other characters in it. For the most part some characters get some nice personality and development through it, but they're moments that almost never add anything to the main story. The story isn't bad, it just doesn't want to reach. Valkyria Chronicles 2 never wants to dig deep... even in moments when it can.

In terms of visuals, Valkyria Chronicles 2 is probably one of the best looking PSP games you can find. It's got some beautiful cel-shading. There are also a few anime cutscenes thrown in there. In moments that aren't anime you can see portraits of characters talking to one another. Valkyria Chronicles 2 is a good looking game and seems to know it. It obviously can't look as good as its older brother... but it keeps the art in tact. The voice acting is a bit of a different story. The voice acting isn't terrible, it can just be annoying. Especially in the moments where you hear a blurb. You might be reading something that Avan is saying, for example, but he'll strike a pose and say something like, "I'll do it!" or something like that. This happens throughout the entire game, actually. Where you'll be reading something but the characters will grumble or something or say a little blurb. At first it wasn't so bad. But from time to time it gets annoying (In particular it seems like most characters favorite word is "Yo!"). For the most part, at least, there's a lot of nicely written dialog in the exchanges. Although, the game opts to be a bit more juvenile and immature than the first game in some moments. This is what makes the game feel like a step backwards. The aspects of the first Valkyria Chronicles that made the story and the characters so interesting... has been left on the cutting room floor. There's hardly any drama or anything to ensure an attachment to much of the cast. You may come to like some characters personalities, but it's a shame that even the main characters don't do much to draw you into the story at hand.

It's actually not as bad as it sounds. It's a fun game to play. And I'm more than willing to deal with the short comings in storytelling so long as the game remains fun. You probably won't care much for the story that Valkyria Chronicles 2 tells, but the gameplay will keep you coming back time and time again. There's a lot to do and a ton of different missions across several different maps. The game sacrifices story to give you a more fun experience through this and it's something that gamers who value gameplay can accept. The game might be better with a better story, but I can't imagine the gameplay would be enhanced by a better story. If gameplay is the focus of Valkyria Chronicles 2, they've done a brilliant job.

Valkyria Chronicles 2 is a worthwhile PSP game. Probably one of the best you can play on the hand-held console. It's easy to be sucked into the gameplay even if it's hard to be sucked into the story. You can lose hours on the gameplay just because it's so much fun to play and because a lot of it still feels fresh despite the first game (not to mention there's just a lot to do). It may be a on a smaller scale, but the expansion in gameplay is enormous and that makes the game worthwhile.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2010
When it was announced that Valkyria Chronicles would be getting a sequel, I was simultaneously thrilled and intensely angry because that sequel was coming out on PSP.

I'm not as angry anymore.

There are things the PSP cannot do. It is not driven by a cell processor, and UMD cannot store as much as a bluray disc. I won't fool you by saying that this is a perfect sequel to VC 1 because it is not; the cutscenes are clearly done on a space budget.

That said, when you get down to the real game play, it's the same familiar setting with a few new tricks. What you lose in the conversion to a smaller screen with annoying dialog you gain in customization. You have more control over your squad's development and armament then you did before, which comes as an equitable trade. I wouldn't want to try VC on Hard EX on the PSP screen or with the PSP's controls, you just don't have the fine grained control to micro manage movements around terrain. But for VC2's maps it's fine.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 5, 2011
Sometimes, being a good girlfriend means sitting on the couch and watching him play a game or playing a game together. I'm a moderate gamer; the new controls are generally more complicated than I'm willing to commit to. He is a hard core gamer. Some games are easier to watch than others, and some are easier to play. This review is not for the hard core gamer. This review is for the girlfriend (or boyfriend, who am I to judge?) that sits on the couch and watches.

This game requires a serious commitment. It timed in at close to 100 hours, and towards the end, we were so worn out that we didn't finish every mission. The game could have gone a lot quicker, we played all of the optional missions in the beginning. Towards the end, we had run out of story, and so it was getting a little tedious. Valkyria Chronicles was amazing, and we were both disappointed when this game came out for the PSP instead of the PS3. We used a PSP Component AV Cable to play the game on the TV. Unfortunately, the picture quality was not nearly as good as the original. Neither was the story. It was still a really great game, though.

The game play is similar to the first, with a few major changes. In this version, you have side stories you have to unlock for each character, ending in a mission. For each character, you also earn credits that allow you to upgrade them. This forces you to play with every character. In the original, there were characters we were more drawn to, and some characters we hardly ever played with at all.

Each mission gives you a type of upgrade credits, and certain credits are needed for upgrades for each character class. Go through the trouble of making a list of what each character needs for each upgrade. Towards the end, we even made groups according to who needed what, depending on what certain missions were giving as rewards. This should help you get your upgrades quicker and help you avoid replaying older missions to get low level items.

After the game is over, new three star missions open up. This is additional game play, beyond the 100 plus hours it took to beat the original game. We haven't started the extra missions yet, but I can't imagine there is less than another 20 hours of new game play. They even bring in a few new characters, as well as some of the fan favorites from the first game.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 7, 2010
It's a fun and has some good improvements to the gameplay (other than smaller maps), but the lack of focus on the story and dumb AI take away from the game too much. I enjoyed the first one on the PS3 a lot more.

- New classes
- Research
- Lots of characters with background and depth
- Multi-player (co-op and vs)...need PS3 and adhoc party to play online

- Lackluster Story
- Too much focus on secondary characters and not enough focus on the story
- Small connected maps rather than larger maps takes away from the game
- Very dumb AI
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2010
I dont play the first game on Ps3 but i can tell you Valkyria Chronicles 2 is the best strategy game on console portable for me. Great music, great gameplay, very good atmospheren, very good story, engaging characters, i recommend this game if you want a very nice game to play ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2010
I just finished the main story of this game and I have to say that this game was worth every penny! I played the demo some time ago for this game and was hooked on it's genre blended combat system (I have not played the first game in the series so this is my first experience with this system). The story for the game is solid and the many characters are memorable, both the main and support cast (although some of the younger members can be a bit on the annoying side), and the missions and unit classes are diverse and balanced. My only real complaint is the awards system for class progression that is awarded seemingly randomly to each character that participates in a mission (To be fair the available awards are listed before each mission, but don't be surprised when the character who you really want to receive a specific award to level up doesn't get it even if they do a majority of the work).

I recommend this game to anyone who is looking for a game with a solid single player campaign for the psp and enjoys genre blended games (specifically being strategy / rpg / and 3rd person shooter). If you are unsure if you would enjoy its unique system the free demo for the game is still available (at the time of this posting) on the Sony Online Network. It's definitely worth checking out!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2011
VC2 is nowhere near as great as VC1 on PS3, but for a PSP title it's excellent in comparison to other games. It has the same addictive gameplay and strategic missions of the first, but they are noticeably easier and shorter to complete. VC1 would often have me playing a mission several times to successfully clear it. This one is a breeze to finish first play-through. That is a bit disappointing, along with the trivial story and silly characters this time around. On the bright side, it is a very long game you will spend many hours with. It seems perfect for the PSP because you can play in short amounts if you're on the go, save whenever you want (except during battles), then turn it off when you're at your destination. I also liked how main characters Alicia and Welkin from the first game made a surprise appearance in here, not as playable characters, but just some updated scenes on their lives now. With a smaller selection of worthwhile, quality games on the PSP, VC2 easily becomes a favorite.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 4, 2010
If you like Valkyria Chronicles for PS3 (and if you haven't played it, you absolutely should), you'll love this. It translates very well to the PSP controls. Just extremely well done. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2011
Im a big fan of valkyria chronicles the original. I bought the second excpecting the same. The second has many more class 5 main but each of those have 2 sub catagories and those 2 each have 2 more subcatagores for a totle of 35 i think class. The class system is way better though you dont start out with snipers but scouts that train into snipers. There are many diffrint missions and missions types. The missions mix the gameplay up enought to make the mpas not get repititive. The maps are the only thing I dont like about this game. The game may have over 200 misions but it also only has 10 maps. The fact that they game has so many missions and only 10 maps is a bit dissipointing. Overall I love this game and it is highly recomnded. The only thing I dont like is the repetivness of the maps. If there were more maps it would have been a 5 star review.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 5, 2010
That title will either confuse you or infuriate you. If you don't know what I'm referring to don't worry about it. Those that get mad, well...(and as an aside, I note how many people are flagging the review as not helpful, which are likely people who disagree with the 4 star rating. To those people abusing the rating system, you need to understand that based on the reviews that are up right now, mine is easily the most informational...don't be a fanboy. 4 stars won't kill the game.)

Skip to the very bottom for summary judgment. For the purposes of this review I will refer to the first VC as just VC, and part two as VC2. As an aside, it is NOT required to play VC to enjoy VC2, but your enjoyment will increase somewhat if you had. You'll also understand the gameplay much easier if you do, as VC did a great job of teaching you how to do things. VC includes little helpers but they're not nearly as good.

I initially had my doubts about Valkyria Chronicles (VC). I didn't buy it when it first came out, even though GameStop and many others had advertised it as the next big thing. First off, SEGA is notorious for releasing obscure games amidst other more notable, more popular games. They've done it with almost every game released on either Dreamcast or the next gen systems; a lot of notable games came out around that time, and even though I didn't play them, a lot of people skipped VC like I did. It wasn't until later that I got the gumption to actually download the demo and found that it had some potential to be good. When the price dropped I picked up a copy, and quite frankly, it's the only PS3 game I enjoyed through and through - almost more than my other games. VC1 had a special something about it that really cannot be replicated, beyond the simplistic gameplay. I did put up a review and you're welcome to read through that for my thoughts. In summary though, the only real complaint I had was the fact that they punished you for being dominant. In a game as fun as VC, it was a real heartbreaker to see that you got piddly experience for dominating each map and instead were encouraged to rush through things.

When SEGA announced VC2, a lot of gamers who had later picked up and enjoyed VC were ecstatic, except for one thing: its system of choice. Why the PSP after releasing the first one on the PS3? It was explained that this change was primarily done to target a larger audience in hopes of drumming up enough interest to get a third game out on the PS3. In retrospect it's rather humorous that people are upset at SEGA for doing what Square Enix is already doing (since Kingdom Hearts has had an iteration on PS2, cell phones, DS, and PSP thus far), yet SE gets lauded for "innovating". In any event, I'm here to review VC2, and one thing is readily apparent: the limited hardware of the PSP does not hinder the experience at all. In fact, I would daresay that the core engine is quite impressively done, and like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Warriors Orochi, VC2 maximizes the experience so much that it almost feels like a natural fit on the handheld.

VC2 takes place a few years after the first. Though the war has ended and Cordelia has accepted her Darcsen heritage, there are still some who believe that the Darcsens caused the Calamity that ravaged the land and thus find it hard to follow a Darcsen leader. This new faction is referred to in game as the Rebels, who hold various public events denouncing Cordelia as the reason for the unrest. Your primary character is Avan, the younger brother of Leon, who was a hero at a local military academy. One of the teachers stops by and informs you that your brother has fallen in battle, but he is unable to tell you why or how it happened. Some rebels attack Avan's village, and he organizes a small team of stronger villagers to fight them off. Afterwards, he decides to apply at the Academy himself in order to eventually find out what happened to his brother. From the start it's clear that Avan is not the school type. His academic prowess is less than ideal, though he is quite good at military movements and strategies. He, along with Cosette and Zeri, are placed in Class G - the lowest and least regarded of the school classes. It is here that Avan begins his development.

VC2 is strikingly different from VC in that you are not initially involved in a large-scale war situation. Here, you'll spend the bulk of your days at the Academy, participating in war exercises and minor skirmishes, and training and developing Class G. You don't have to deal with the school side so much (ala Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3), only the military and training side. As a side quest you will also have random encounters with other members of Class G; these encounters occur similar to the events in Record of Agarest War, where you go to the area that they're located and watch a small cutscene play out. Depending on how many times you have encountered that character, you may also be asked to participate in a special character skirmish, and if successful, the bond between you and that character will be strengthened and they will unlock hidden Potentials. This is key in battle; the Potential usually improves upon a negative Potential, or adds to their skillset in battle. A good bond between characters improves battle performance which is critical in most of the boss battles. A lot of people have referred to this as "dating sim" but it's far from that. They are short, quick ways to develop bonds between Avan and his troops, and it feels quite natural and realistic in a school setting like this.

Academy time is broken out in months. Each month reveals a certain number of required skirmishes that you must participate in to unlock the primary objective. These objectives, as you will learn in the first month, are instances where you are called into primary combat, either to defend or lead an attack, or to escort important citizens. These primary objectives are often substantially more difficult than the skirmishes, thus the need for ongoing training and development of your squad. Secondary to the training is the R&D, where you can develop new weapons and improvements for your team and tanks; however, unlike VC, improvements don't just randomly appear. You will have to kill notable enemies to steal plans for the weapon enhancements. I have a mixed opinion about this, but in any event, it adds to the overall difficulty by ensuring you don't just run to the final base and take it over. What's more, very few objectives even care about taking bases. There's a good reason for this.

Most large-scale PSP games section off maps in order to facilitate navigation on handheld units. VC2 is no exception, but the difference here is that the sections actually lower the difficulty somewhat by allowing the player to control the inflow of new troops. It also allows for faster deployment to remote areas, which was a big issue on VC and led to a lot of people using "Undead Alicia" to speed to the final base and take it in order to get the highest rank. As I stated, very few missions call for you to just take the enemy base. Some require you to escort an APC vehicle to a destination while protecting it. Others may want you to dominate everyone on the map (YES!). Some just require killing of a main commander. There is variety here that was sorely missing from VC and I was happy to see it, as it was clear that they listened intently to some of the complaints. Battle has been streamlined as well: there's no longer a "Medic!!" per se. You can evacuate incapacitated characters at the cost of 1CP (replaced one of the orders in VC). You can also have characters retreat from the field and if needed, redeploy elsewhere, also at a 1CP cost (replaced another VC order). If a character is in an allied base they can retreat at no CP cost which allows quick redeployment at an adjacent area. Animations such as the CP badge shatter, the successful kill animation, and the enemy movement animations have all been simplified down so as not to affect the overall flow. Everything just feels touched up and improved.

Another positive to the game is the (in my opinion) corrected grading system. In VC, the lower your grade, the lower your points gained after battle, and if you got a D, you got nothing except some piddly experience from the peons you killed in battle. While VC2 kept the grading system and also the lessening of points, the effect is not nearly so severe as to amount to a punishment. Even a D rank will net you some basic experience for the killing you did in battle, and it doesn't feel like you got shortchanged due to an unbalanced battle (Dirk anyone? More on that later). Of everything this was the biggest improvement to the game. You also get Credits, which are basically troop-specific accolades, for each active participant in the battle. These Credits are then used to adjust your characters' class, creating almost infinite opportunities for customization, another big plus. While I wasn't keen on all of the changes (more later), it still felt refreshing to know I wasn't stuck with the same basic formations like in VC. Additionally, they fixed one other big complaint on VC: much later in the game, you can assign leaders to the squad. You still will have your primary mates (who aren't required to go into battle, but must be on each group), but you can delegate who your commanders are in an effort to increase your CP count. Great to see that you can now customize this and control who your leaders really are.

You can define groups of combatants and even name them, with different tank customizations and formations. I didn't really find much of a value in this except to provide quick access to different configurations of troops. In VC, you had to pick a certain number of teammates and that was it; you had to use some variation of those people in every battle, unless/until you went and swapped them out in town. Here, you'll get so many people assigned to your class that you almost have to eventually use the group system to delegate different specialties to each skirmish or battle. A maximium of 19 people, including Avan, Zeri and Cosette, will be allowed per team, but you'll have access to many more than that, and sometimes you may need more Scouts than Shocks, or more Lancers than fighters. The group system allows you to create these configurations to assist you in battle. Each group can also have a different tank configuration, which is both helpful and annoying (if you use the same configuration no matter what, you have to customize the tank the same way for every group, which can get a little tedious).

Speaking more of these customizations, everyone has a primary job, with potential to change to a subjob once the required Credits have been obtained. Scout, Shocktrooper, Lancer, Engineer, and Armored Tech are the main five (there is another one, for a special character that I won't go into, that you get later). The changes are basically as thus:

- The Sniper is no longer a primary job (boo!) and must be earned as a subset of the Scout job. Tradeoff: WAY more accurate than the VC Snipers.

- The Scout can no longer gain the Grenade Launcher upgrade (boo!!), which was given to another subjob. Tradeoff: they're not nearly as fragile as in VC.

- The ShockTrooper can no longer equip flamethrowers (boo!!!), again, given to a subjob. Tradeoff: none that I can see.

- The Engineer can no longer defuse mines; that was given to the Armored Tech (err?). Tradeoff: The Engineer can now heal from a distance.

- The Armored Tech, a new job, is basically a high defense, high AP melee "tank" (for those who understand MMORPG terminology). You might think this weird, except for the fact that from the front, they are impervious to any and all gun fire, and often, one swing of whatever they're equipping can kill their enemy, even stronger enemies that you'll encounter later. They also have the ability to defuse mines.

Everyone will start as one of the above base jobs, then they can earn Credits to learn one of the subjobs under the main job. For example, a Scout can eventually learn to be a Scout Veteran or Sniper over time. At least initially, Avan is the only one that can basically employ any of the jobs once he's earned the required Credits. Unlike Welkin, Avan is constantly on the field as a footsoldier, as another character is manning the tank. Welkin wasn't that good as a Scout, but Avan definitely can hold his own. His specialty by far is interception and counter fire from cover; he can hold down bases like nobody's business. Being able to give him any job gives you confidence to send him into the battle without worrying about him getting killed. Another nice point here is that unlike VC, most skirmishes don't end if Avan gets hospitalized; you just don't get the CP bonus that he gives you by being there.

Time passage in VC was decent, supported by the various cutscenes that ran through the game which told the story of Welkin and his cohorts. In that game, the story was so powerful as to give you the sense of actually being there, in that time, during a period of war. VC2 took a different route to illustrate this passage. During the month, as you complete skirmishes, you will be sent back to Avan's room to review notes or to go to sleep for the next day. Every so often, a new classmember will join the team and be available for battle. If members are incapacitated in battle, they are "hospitalized" for three cycles (days) and not available to be used. This adds to the illusion of the passage of time, as does the ongoing development scenarios with other members of Class G and the bonds that are created between teammates. While it doesn't really have the same inclusive feeling as VC, it works for what the PSP offers in terms of "pick up and play". I was bothered by a few things here...more on that later.

Some things I didn't quite enjoy about VC2 (And they're all compared to VC, so if you never played VC, they probably wouldn't affect you any, but shame on you).

- I'm not really a fan of the type of cutscene used here, with the cards and still images. It's not a big deal, but I at least would have preferred fully animated images like VC.

- The AI is still not that smart. There were many times the enemy was standing inside my open main base and could have taken it yet didn't, allowing me time to go over and take him out. Unlike VC, the enemy tanks are also not hell bent on assaulting your main tank, probably because they know it's now a useless endeavor (for the most part, your tank is not a loss condition). They don't duck nearly as much as they used to, and rarely have I seen them chuck a grenade.

- The cost of Orders went up substantially, and I don't just mean the cost (in XP) to buy them, I mean the cost to execute them. 4CP seems to be the average, and the only scenarios I needed to make use of one, I had 3CP available on each turn. Fortunately, they don't seem to be nearly as needed as they were on VC due to the lighter difficulty.

- In Classmate skirmishes, you'll often be feuding with other female students who challenge you to battles. However, on the field, they just look like normal footsoldiers, no names, nothing. It would have added to the immersion to see these students actually look unique and like the cutscene that preceded it. A minor detraction.

- Some scenarios are just unbalanced. There is one with a character called Dirk where, depending on how you clear the map, he may withdraw to the final area and then basically sit on one of the two entrance bases. Problem with this is that there's really no defeating him and he's obscenely strong; so bringing someone in there is a death sentence. Many people ended up in the hospital that day.

- A lot of the maps are basically reused over and over and over again for skirmishes. Unlike VC where you had different areas of Gallia that you battled in, VC2 has oversimplified this down to reusing of the same map. I suppose this is logical, given you're stuck at the Academy, but it would have been nice to see some more variety here.

- The character development. IT's good, but it pales in comparison to its big brother. It feels forced and not nearly as natural as the first. In VC, I felt emotional bonds with Isara (definitely), Alicia, Welkin, Largo and even Rosie, as well as a lot of the other lesser members of Squad 7 (Edy, Susie, Marina, Cezary, Audrey, etc). It just naturally happened as I played through the game and it never felt forced. VC2 feels like it wants to force these bonds upon me and while I don't begrudge them this approach, it just feels...I don't know, less than the first for some reason. I admit that VC created a standard in character development that no game may ever reach. Persona 3 came close, but I was not affected by any Shinjiro nearly as much as I was Isara (trying not to spoil here), which is telling in of itself. The anguish felt by Squad 7 was palpable, and VC2 does not come close to that level. May be a good thing for some who felt overpowered by VC, but for me it's a big negative.

So in I recommend it? Absolutely. Despite what the detractors say, VC2 is a solid sequel that unfortunately, many people will pass up because they don't want to buy a PSP for whatever reason. It's a shame, because the game is crazy fun and deep. There are some shortcomings which keep it from a 5 star ranking, but a lot has been improved here and I encourage you to pick up a copy and try it yourself. Though, since SEGA decided to release this around the same time as Metroid, I'm certain it'll yet again be overlooked. Silly SEGA.
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