Date: 2007 October 10 17:58
Posted by Azure
It's been a while since our last games review, though we urge you to remember the anime and manga reviews in the column on the right. If you've read all those you'll want to know we're also back with a games review.
This time it's the turn of platformy RPG Valkyrie Profile 2 for the venerable PS2. Does this odd mix of RPG and side scrolling work? Find out on Otakunews.
Valkyrie profile 2 is something of an oddity, a fusion of classic side scrolling action, RPG and Square Enix’s tell tale style of story telling.
The game opens like any number of RPGs, a superbly animated cut scene sets the story up. Valyerie Silmeria was a faithful servant of Oden, but after a conflict between the two Silmeria was forcibly reincarnated as a human. The human spirit that was chosen to carry her was Alicia princess of Dipain, but the reincarnation goes wrong and Silmeria’s spirit awakens within the princess leading two personalities to inhabit the same body. Alicia’s father feels she is a danger to the throne and banishes her, but Alicia/Silmeria escapes her enforced exile so that she can take on Odin and hopefully avoid a war.
Once the game itself gets going Valkyrie profile on the surface looks like it might just be a classic side scrolling plat former, albeit one that just happens to have some gorgeous graphics on what is now a last-gen console. Both towns and dungeons are side scrolling, though there is some use of 3D as dungeon rooms are layered so that some are clearly in front of others on the map.The game isn’t really a platformer either, there are platforms but rarely does the game require the player to jump across many or perform death defying leaps, or Tomb Raider/ Prince of Persia ledge grabs. Instead there’s the photon system, Alicia can shoot out beams of light that can encase an enemy in crystal which can be jumped on and moved to get higher. Crystals will crack and the enemy will re-emerge if they aren’t beaten first. Shoot a crystallised enemy again and you swap places, which means the game almost becomes a fiendish puzzler at times.
Enemy battles are straight out RPG, when an enemy is touched or struck the game switches out to battle mode. A fully 3D arena is generated, which the player party of up to four inhabits. Each character is assigned a different attack button , and will follow the designated leader. The player can also split the party up and move only a few characters, whilst the rest stand about like lemons. Placing them far enough from action is a great tactic for surviving big battles. Splitting the party up can be essential as some enemies are only vulnerable from certain angles.
The game also features a soulstone system, throughout dungeons stones can be found that effect the enemies attributes when placed on " dais" or party attributes when carried. Figuring out which stones to take and where to place them can help tremendously, for instance some can increase attack. If left in the dungeon the enemies become strong, if you carry it your party does. Stones can only be removed from dungeons via special springs and stored until the next dungeon, otherwise they reset and are lost when the player leaves..
Boss fights are challenging, there’s almost always a trick to beating them, which involves really watching how the enemy reacts to attack as well as examining the environment. It’s just a shame the difficulty curve is so steep.
The RPG/Platform hybrid works surprisingly well, the only downside is that it adds the now all too familiar tedium of " levelling up" to the instant enjoyment of a platformer.
There’s a whole host of character customisation, equipment can effect stats. Combination of different equipment will allow the character to learn new skills and attacks, but the amount each character can use at once is limited allowing plenty of scope for customisation.
Along with the story line characters are the Einherjar, souls of the dead which can be collected and revived to fight in your party. Once they reach certain levels they can be released, leaving behind crystals which can power up the rest of the party. It’s also possible to find them again as you wander the world, and doing so will mean you are rewarded with extra items. The Einherjar add more variety to the party as you can find a whole hose of warriors of different classes.
The story telling is top notch, with an interesting range of characters. Thankfully Square Enix maintains it’s high standards of localisation, with some top quality English voice over. A great story always helps, and adds that essential " just one more go" feeling to the game.
Valkerie Profile 2 is unusual, but don’t let that put you off. Old school gamers in particular will appreciate the game’s superb mix of platform, RPG and puzzle which is all wrapped in a high quality package. My only complaint is that the learning curve is so uneven moving from easy to very hard in a heartbeat.