I’m almost at a loss for words here. On one hand Valkyrie Profile has an amazing battle system and current generation graphics that make me want to sing from the rooftops and shout at the hillsides. Here we have a game that excels in every technical aspect. And save for a few glaring design flaws, this game is begging me for a higher score. I really want to give it that higher score but after all the time I’ve sunk in to this game I have to ask myself, does it really deserve it? The answer is no and I’ll tell you why. Balance is a key factor here, this game is maddeningly difficult. It also has a very unwieldy item creation system that will have you grinding unnecessarily in search of materials to have a shopkeeper potentially build you item provided you’ve spent enough money at his shop in the first place. Couple this with a relatively weak character development scheme amidst a very strong story and you’ve got a game that straddles the line between brilliance and mediocrity. You’ve probably reached this point and though, why the hell did I give this game such a high score? Because it’s damn fun that’s why.
This title is hands down the most beautiful game I have ever seen on a current generation console, and yes I will say that in the face of a number of XBox games that have come out in the past year. This game looks amazing, and I have yet to even look at it in progressive scan. If you’ve got an HDTV and a component cable then prepare yourself for a visual eyegasm. Of course some people will argue that this game cheats since it’s technically a 2-D game and doesn’t require nearly as much rendering as a typical 3-D title, but I don’t care. This game also abuses the latest trend in graphical tricks, depth of field manipulation. By blurring the areas around the characters you get a lot more detail out of the character models which helps this game look even more fantastic. So in short, best looking current-gen game EVER, and it’ll be a hard sell to convince me otherwise. The audio to this game isn’t too shabby either. The music is better than the first Valkyrie Profile and the voice acting is much improved. There are a few weak performances but for the most part it is very solid.
When this game isn’t doing its best to piss you off it’s an absolutely amazing game. The reason I verbally fellate it so is because it’s got one of the best turn-based battle systems I have ever had the joy to work with. With Final Fantasy XII right around the corner heralding the death knell for turn based RPGs it’s good to see developer Tri-Ace fighting the good fight with an excellent battle system. This game actually treads a fine line between being turn based and real time and I’d say it works quite well. Battles are an instance event, once you get in to a fight you’re brought to an area to do battle and you control a lead member of the party, and the other party members will follow. Enemies will only move when you move which is how this game still manages to be turn based. You can also split the party to have one team act as a diversionary unit to set up to get behind enemies. Once you get within range of an enemy you can initiate your attack, and that is where this game starts to play like the original Valkyrie Profile. Of course it’s not a simple matter of mowing down enemies, positioning is key; as you don’t want to suffer a counter-attack once you complete your attacks. To help alleviate this there is a Dash move that will get you around your opponents at the cost of some AP. Each attack has an AP cost, which can be restored by being struck by an enemy or by moving around the battlefield. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be running down enemies in no time flat. If you want to keep the fights short you can target a leader enemy. Doing so will cause the rest of the enemies to scatter and there is no experience penalty. Or you can savor the battles and try to go for some enemy drops by attacking one by one. Enemies can be broken down depending on where you strike and as a result will drop items from time to time. This aspect of the game is also one of the most frustrating as not all monsters have the same drops, so if you’re in need of something like say a Bone Receptacle you’ll have to huff it back to the first dungeon in the game, then you’ll have to find the exact point to strike in order to get that item to drop.
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