Valkyria Chronicles

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Ugh. Finally. Okay, so I picked this game up on sale like… a year ago. I started it but didn’t finish it before going to graduate school. Graduate school happened and I took care of that. But now that it’s summer, I figured I may as well finish it. So I started it again from the beginning, and finished it. Feels like it took forever. But that’s getting ahead of myself so let’s just dive right in to it.

So Valkyria Chronicles is about Nazi Germany The Empire starting a war all over the continent of Europe Europa. Expansionist policy be crazy. They’re call it World War II Europa War II They’re putting the Jews Darcsen into labour camps. And along the way they discover a power called the Valkyria which is capable of producing explosions that deliberately reference atomic bombs! So while they didn’t quite copy the history books, they sure didn’t deviate too far from the script. You play Welkin Gunther, son of a famous military man and after witnessing horrible events in a small town called Bruhl (which despite its German-ish name seems to be full of Asians…) you decide to join the militia. In the process you meet the I’m-not-doing-this-because-I-like-you-or-anything girl and your sister! Who happens to be unrelated! (She’s adopted) Both girls will vie for Welkin’s attention because reasons. The game is the journey from little Bruhl getting attacked to a final showdown on a giant $#@!ing tank.

The mechanics are weird. So it’s a turn-based FPS which is not an everyday combination. How it works is whenever you want to move a unit, you possess their body like a ghost or something and move them across the field. You can shoot at one enemy per movement turn but if you happen to walk in front of any enemy units, they can ALL unload on you. It’s like all of your other units are invisible to them. You could have a shocktrooper next to the dude shooting at your scout but he’ll keep shooting at the scout you’re moving while that shocktrooper next to him does NOTHING. Reminds me of that Tobuscus Skyrim Literal Trailer. “Then it goes through the trees… to tell its backup… thanks for NOTHING!” (Hilarious, gets me every time) Now if you press the “get ready to fire” button everyone suddenly stops shooting like they’ve just realized that they just insulted your ancestors. It’s really quite alarming. But it works for both sides so I don’t know what’s going on with these goons. Speaking of that, let’s get to the goons.

So your squad is comprised of like 20 goons and I never really changed it more than once after your initial squad setup. These goons are distinguished by their class, Scouts, Shocktroopers, Lancers, Snipers, and Engineers. I liked using snipers, which is why I changed my squad once to get four snipers in my team. Nothing was safe from headshots. And here’s the real shame of it. There are probably 50-ish different people you could choose from. I stuck with one squad, why? Because I had a comfortable strategy. The game goes out of its way to give all of the people backstories to make you care about them, but it totally failed. The only reason I would ever remember a person’s name is if I had relied upon them to finish off a target for my objective and they failed. I once had a lancer (anti-tank units) literally right behind the tank, aiming directly at the tank’s weakness and he STILL $#@!ing missed. What. The. $#@! And it’s not like the characters are unique because remember – they’re distinguished by their class. The experience system is set up so all members of a class gain levels with each other. So there really is no reason you couldn’t switch out Goon A with Goon B and see the same results. It’s kind of a waste really. What if that’s the message? That in war, everyone is replaceable? Morbid.

My advice to the developers? If you want to make me care about the characters in your game, don’t make so many. Focus on a few key characters.

There are a couple of problems with the overall plot design. Some actions are straight up illogical, and needless. The romance story is forced. Maybe I’m just too far removed from World War II to really feel the game, but I don’t think so. I think it really is all bad writing. ALSO. Can we just take a moment to hate this jerk?

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This is the main antagonist. He orders this fine thing

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to kill herself! I mean, look at her! Those heels are insane and she kills people in them! I once watched her run across half a battlefield to destroy my squad in those heels! Holy smokes, all the props lady. And she’s gorgeous and she’s totally in love with the guy! Ah well, what a waste.

My main gripe with the game is… well… the game I suppose. The battles take too long and that’s even if you finish them successfully on the first try. I hate having units die in games like this, so I wound up restarting several battles. I even wound up save scumming because lancers have no ability to aim at all. I would be relying on these guys to hit targets to complete the objective of the map and they kept missing! So I wound up saving before every shot they fired and only continuing the fight if they landed it. And yeah, I guess that does make me a loser but this game was not drawing me in with its plot or characters and I’m halfway through the game. I’m invested. If I don’t finish the game it’ll weigh on my mind forever! I’m not dealing with that! I’d rather finish the game a loser than spend an extra 100 hours on this game! So yeah, I did that.

The game also seems rather pretentious. Even down to its method of moving you through the plot. The framing device is a history book. Each page has four or five cutscenes on it and you can’t proceed to the next cutscene until you’ve seen the one that you’re on. But before every cutscene it asks you “Are you sure you want to view this cutscene?” You may as well be asking me “Do you want to complete the game?” It’s total bogus! What’s the point of asking me if I’m sure that I want to watch the cutscene if I CAN’T PROCEED THROUGH THE GAME UNLESS I HAVE DONE SO. And yeah, I could skip the cutscenes, but I hate doing that if I haven’t seen the cutscene yet. So when you put the cutscenes and the battles together, you’re easily looking at like a 20-30 hour game IF you’re perfect on each mission and you don’t waste time grinding the same battle over and over again for experience to upgrade your units (I only did these training battles like three times?) If you’re slightly more bad at the game like myself, it could turn into 40-60 hour game (And that’s with save scumming after the first half of the game).

Overall? The game is regarded as a classic (among my friends) but I don’t think it has really earned its place among greats like Ocarina of Time. It has a unique play on mechanics, trying to marry turn-based games and first-person-shooters but I think maybe we should keep those two apart for a little longer. I do give it props for that attempt though. The story is copied, tired, and predictable. Except when it’s not predictable and then the reason for that is that the actions make no sense! The characters are forgettable, the romance seems forced (or a lot of stuff happens off-screen) and they don’t feel important. The only important feeling character is Selvaria, the hot chick featured above. But she only feels important because of a connection to some war in the past and indeed her own past of abandonment. It sucks because I feel like I’d much rather see her story or see the ancient war fought than this one. So maybe that’s a point in the game’s favour? It made me want to know about its history? Blah. Anyway, I guess that’ll wrap this one up. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

 

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Valkyria Chronicles

When is it Over?

Heads up – my views are perhaps a little more extreme than most and they don’t scale too well with some morality definitions.

For a change of pace, let’s not talk about United States politics. Mostly because Sanders is likely toast. Though it’d be hilarious if Clinton got indicted and Sanders would’ve won all along. Anyway, let’s talk about the ways competitions end.

Team sports like basketball have a time limit. When the time expires, the team with more points wins. Easy peasy. What if the teams are tied? Well there are some special rules for that but ultimately it’s a timed game. You have one hour to get as many BUCKETS as possible.

Board games usually end when particular criterion are met. Snakes and Ladders ends when a person gets to the other side of the board. That person wins. In card games, say… Magic, you win if you reduce your opponent’s life to zero. If your opponent has no remaining cards to draw (a result of milling decks) then they also lose. There are also some variations for sports. I think there are some mercy rules in sports in which if a team wins too hard too fast the game ends before the other team can embarrass themselves in trying to overcome such a disadvantage.

There’s also the option of surrender and winning by default which is where this post is going to focus. You can lose games (like card games – fucking Hearthstone) by surrendering. And you can lose by simply not being there to compete. You can’t win if you’re not there to play the game, so you lose by default. Now let’s make the (gruesome) extension to war. Wars are not subject to absolute timescales, like basketball. There aren’t any rules (strictly speaking) in war. I mean, sure, we have Geneva Convention. We, as nations, have agreed to follow these rules. But there’s no requirement that the rules be followed. And to be honest, this is why I believe the GOP is in favor of torturing ISIS. ISIS isn’t playing by our rules. They never agreed to the rules. Why should you play by the rules if your opponent won’t? Personal integrity, I suppose. Is that personal integrity worth it? Is it worth the lives of citizens, is it worth the lives of enemies? I’ll leave that question to the reader.

So how do wars end? Surrender, I suppose. Default would be an when there is no one to oppose you but that can get dangerous really fast. But there’s an important thing to note about surrender. That is, the would be victor must accept the surrender. There’s a GREAT scene in Game of Thrones which emphasizes this point (I’d say spoiler alert, but let’s be real here, you’ve seen it). For those of you unwilling to watch the clip, it’s of Ramsay Bolton. He comes across an injured knight from ‘the other side’ on the ground. Ramsay steps forward to deal a killing blow. The knight cries out, ‘Surrender! I surrender!’ What is Ramsay’s response? He says, “I accept your surrender,” and deals a killing blow. The thing about surrender is that the victor sets the terms. This effectively caused World War II, or at least it acted as a contributing factor.

So in that sense, since the victor must accept the terms of surrender, the entity surrendering doesn’t really have much of a say in the matter. The victor decides when the war is over, not the loser. The victor decides that the fighting ends and then the victor decides what is to be done with the loser. Sun Tzu said it best in The Art of War when they said be gracious to the defeated. Because if you don’t, and you let them live, as the allies did in World War I, you get Nazi Germany.

Before I go further, I would highly recommend reading The Art of War; I’ve linked it above. It has a lot of conventional wisdom which can be applied to more aspects of life than war. I want to note that Sun Tzu advises war as a last resort, when no peaceful resolution can be met.

Okay, so it’s amazing what economic depression can do to people. It’s amazing how the people will rally around… “hope”? It’s amazing how treatment after defeat in a war can be used as a rallying cry. People want to blame someone, they want a scapegoat. It’s great, and the Dark Knight explores this theme in the boat experiment. Maybe not primarily, but I’d say it’s there! It would seem many people do not want another World War II. Some people (like Germany) would like to forget it ever happened. Don’t mention it, no swastikas allowed, history must be buried so the world can remember we brought them dirndles instead  and Oktoberfest. I don’t blame them and I feel some of the fault does lie with the allies. But see, here’s the problem: the allies forgot the only real rule in war. Win by total annihilation.

Sun Tzu makes a great point to treat the defeated fairly. Why? You do not want an embittered, defeated opponent to fester in times of peace. To gather allies, to gather power, and eventually strike again. Does such treatment truly prevent another war? Of this, I’m skeptical. People don’t easily forget the family members that they had to bury or could not bury. People don’t forget the burned buildings, the destroyed cities, the hunger, and they don’t forget the flag of the person that did it. But sure, it’s more humanitarian, probably.

I’m going to be the one to propose the alternative solution to war: total destruction of the enemy. The soldiers, the family, the children, everybody dies. No one can rise against you if there’s no one to rise. It conveniently gets rid of the future uprising issue. The alternative is a militia state but that can also cause an uprising. Just can’t win eh? In an ideal world, there are no wars, and I’m not suggesting that nations go out of their way to destroy other nations. My philosophy is that if you are attacked by an unprovoked nation, leave nothing behind. Leave no one to grieve for the fallen. Person A attacks Person B on the street? Person A should kill Person B with their first strike, or Person B will respond with lethal force. Because leaving a survivor will make you a target for future attacks. Person A? They have friends. They could come back with friends. At least in the case of dead Person A, that’s one less person to worry about if the friends decide to enact vengeance. Leaving people to grieve only fosters resentment, and future attacks.

The question one needs to ask themselves when they employ such tactics is whether or not they can live with themselves having done so. I don’t think this is an easy question. I also think that my position is radical in today’s world. If the United States decided to nuke the Middle East, retaliatory action from the United Nations (which would likely just be ‘pressure’, not force) would follow. Is this the opening Russia wants? Mutually assured destruction might suggest not. So now I wonder, is it all a farce? Is our ‘peace’ just a better alternative to the deaths of many more, possibly all people? What size of an attack on a superpower is necessary to ‘wake the beast’? Will such an attack ever happen? Have we seen the last World War? These are all thoughtful questions.

Artemis Hunt

When is it Over?