Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

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I wrote a review on Gamefaqs. Thought I'd post it here. I gave the game an 8/10.

"A big surprise to someone who didn't like the first game."

The History

Tri-Ace. A small company. Very small. However, while it may be a small company, the games Tri-Ace has produced has been, for lack of a better word, amazing. They began with their key franchise Star Ocean on the Super Nintendo, which never made it to the US. They continued with Star Ocean: The Second Story on the Playstation that was an indirect sequel to the first game, focusing on Ronixis' son, Claude. Star Ocean 2 was released in the US, and was a huge sleeper hit. At the time, most people were too focused on Final fantasy and looked over this gem.

Then, they released their second franchise, Valkyrie Profile, which is so rare that it's impossible to find a copy for the Playstation. If you have a PSP, you can play Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth instead. Same game with a few added features as well as not being impossible to find. However, that's beside the point. the point is, I played Valkyrie Profile not long after completing Star Ocean 2, and I must say I was disappointed. Gone was the free-roaming battlefields that Star Ocean had, and gone was the light-hearted and simple storyline. Valkyrie Profile was much darker, and in a way a little confusing for newcomers to easily jump into. I had returned the game to the friend I borrowed it from, swearing that giving it another chance would be a waste of time.

Years pass, and Tri-Ace appears again with Star Ocean 3 and Radiata Stories, which were both very fun. But then, they released Valkyrie Profile 2. And after several years of telling myself I wouldn't get caught up in disappointment again, against my better judgement, I had bought the game, and for my birthday no less. I was completely surprised at how fun the game was.

Story

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is actually a prequel to the first game, so you can easily play this game first without knowing any of the original game's back story. Silmeria is cast inside the body of Alicia, princess of Dipan. Alicia herself is also an outcast from her own family, and together, Silmeria and Alicia, sharing the same body, escape Dipan. The Gods and Dipan are about to go to war, and the key artifact in this war is the Dragon's Orb, so Silmeria/Alicia begin their quest with Rufus, the archer, Dylan, a Heavy Swordsman, and the mysterious magician Lezard to find the Dragon Orb first.

Game play

Game play is very similar to the first game, but has a touch of Star Ocean's free-range battles thrown in. The game is a side-scroller, so you can only go left or right, and enter new map areas by going up or down stairs into the foreground or background, as well as the left and right exits. Enemies are clearly seen on screen and on radar, and touching them throws you into a battle.

When in a battle, your characters are all close together in a formation, much like in the first game. However, now your team can move around the arena and target specific monsters or body parts, giving battle a more Star Ocean feel. But unlike Star Ocean, you can't send your team running in and hacking everything in sight. Battles take a more strategic view in this game. You can assign party members to "teams" (red and blue) to split up what your party does and where they go. You control your party so no one runs off on their own unless they do so to get back into formation if you leave them behind.

Monsters only move when you do, and they can only attack you when you get into their attack radius, which also applies to you being able to attack them.

When you get close enough to attack, each of your allies is assigned to one of your four face buttons, which you press during the actual fighting to pull off combos and hurt the enemy. Be careful on how and when you launch a specific character's attack, because a character CAN miss the target, wasting an attack. Attacks use up the AP gauge, which is replenished by moving around or by charging up at the press of a button, so it works similar to Star Ocean 3's fury system. In order to win, you must defeat all the enemies, or simply defeat the enemy team's "leader" which has more HP than a normal monster. Killing the team's leader ends the fight much more quickly and wil usually net you more EXP anyway, so getting the leader is usually the smartest thing to do.

Enemies can attack if you get within their range, but once they attack, you can't do anything to avoid it except hope they miss. There is so much more about battles that I can talk about forever, but you'll have to play the game to learn more. So if you don't mind more strategic fights, this game won't be so bad for you. However, if you think you can win by going into fights guns blazing, then you'll most likely be obliterated and get very slow EXP gain. The choice is up to you.

Graphics

The graphics are incredible. Everything has a beautiful and realistic view and everything seems to flow very well. Star Ocean 3's visuals were very nice, but this game takes the crown. It easily pushes the PS2's ability to it's limits. The people, the towns, everything is beautiful. When there is grass, it looks like every blade of grass was individually crafted and animated. It's THAT GOOD, folks.

Special effects from Soul Crash moves are also amazing to look at, though Nibelung Velesti looks a bit plain compared to some of the other finishers other characters have. Still, everything looks beautiful and easy on the eyes. No overly-exaggerated light shows that will make your eyes bleed. It's all natural looking.

Sound and Music

There are games with bad voice acting, and games with good voice acting. This game is the latter. Voices are done very well by "professionals." Most, if not all voices from the first game have returned, so Lezard fans will be happy to know that his original voice actor is back. Everyone sounds they way they look like they should sound. No voice sounds out of place, which is perfect considering the seriousness of this game. The only problem with voices, however, is that they do not always sync well with the actual lip movements in cutscenes. If you ignore that though, it's all good.

Sound effects are a mixed bag. Some sounds are very generic, like footsteps and water, but others sound very realistic, such as the blowing wind or the bending of a bow. I'd say sound effects are more good than bad, which makes things a lot easier on the ears.

The music in the game is very orchestrated. Motoi Sakuraba is back with more of his good work. You can hear a bit of Star Ocean 3 influence in some of the songs, but most of them sound perfectly orchestrated, and they all fit the area well. A town sounds like a town. A dungeon sounds like a dungeon. And of course, battles sound like battles. You can easily tell right from the start if something is a normal battle, a boss, or a major boss. When you fight the Kraken for the first time, you can tell by the music that it'll be a much harder fight than the previous bosses. The music is not only different, but the fight itself is harder, and the Kraken even has a voice of it's own! And yes, the famous "Incarnation of the Devil" song is back once again for you-know-who.

Replay

There's replay in this game, of course. What would a tri-ace game be without a bonus dungeon or two? Well VP2 has this as well, of course, allowing you to fight against new bosses, updated bosses, and interesting cameo bosses. You can also go on side-quests and get stronger weapons and armor.

there's also a random music mode, where battles can have any music from the game (or not even from the game) at random. You could hear Incarnation of the Devil during a normal fight, or normal enemy music against the final boss. As the name implies, it's random. Should prove rather interesting, and since you can get songs not from just VP2 alone, you can get a bit of nostalgia from the older games. This feature alone is worth a second play-through.

In conclusion...

I once was blind and now I see. Valkyrie Profile 2 is a great game that I believe any RPG fan should enjoy. It's not the easiest game, nor is it very light-hearted like other Tri-Ace games, but it offers something for everyone. If you liked the first game, or even if you didn't, you should play VP2.

Rent or Buy?

Lets think for a second. I played the first game and didn't like it and also told myself not to get involved in any sequels. I bought this game anyway and I do not regret it. Rent or buy? BUY!!!
 
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It's a very, very fun game. Although I haven't gotten too far into it yet, and sadly, it looks like I won't get much farther for a while. I'm gonna finish Okami first, and I got FFXII a few days ago (mmmm, I love the internet), so i'll have to put Valkyrie Profile on hold until I finish that as well.

I'll get around to playing it eventually though, and i'll be stoked when I do, it's a damn fun game.
 
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Yeah it's a pretty nice game, just started (am on chapter 3 I think), especially the battle system, which is pretty refreshing and fun to use.

The only thing I can complain about at the moment is the the story, though the story itself i pretty okey (nothing speical THIS far) but the characters are just so emotionless and lifeless (Probably because of the bad voice actors) that it ruins the overall feeling =/. That combined with the bad lip-synching just makes the dialogues feel like something you MUST get through (to understand the story) instead of something you want to see.

Nonetheless, tmost of the other things makes up for it, dungeons, battle-system, even small things like the look of the world map.
Great game to spend some time with while waiting for FF12 ^^.
 

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