Another World

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Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria hands-on!

Posted by evans στο Κυριακή, 25 Ιουνίου, 2006

Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria

 Hands-on του Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria από το Gamespot.

The original Valkyrie Profile was a somewhat unconventional role-playing game that mixed in side-scrolling platformer elements, an interesting and mature storyline, and gorgeous hand-drawn backgrounds. It all added up to a fun and refreshing experience that quickly became a favorite among role-playing fans. It's no surprise, then, that the series is returning once again in the form of a remake of the original for the PlayStation Portable (which we also just got an exclusive look at), as well as a completely new prequel on the PlayStation 2. The latter of these, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, was recently released in Japan, so we snatched up an import copy to see how the game compares to its predecessor.Silmeria takes place hundreds of years before the tale of Lenneth in the original Valkyrie Profile game. Silmeria is the name of a valkyrie who served the god Odin until the two had a disagreement, and he sealed her spirit into the body of a human. That human happens to be a young princess, who you control in the game. The game opens with the princess entering a large and busy town. As soon as she enters, she begins a lengthy conversation with the disembodied voice of Silmeria. The two appear to have an argument about something, and at one point, the princess shouts at Silmeria, which attracts some curious looks from bystanders.

Eventually, the princess enters a shop of some sort and approaches a man sitting at a table. The man appears to be an archer, and after another lengthy conversation, he joins your team. At this point, you're free to explore the town and get accustomed to the controls.

Once you start playing, the game feels very much like the original Valkyrie Profile. You move about on a 2D plane, despite the fact that the environments are all rendered in full 3D. It seems strange at first, being only able to move left and right, but you'll find certain areas where you can move into the background or foreground, such as branching pathways and doors to buildings. The town is highly detailed, and the backgrounds look very nice thanks to some great lighting and colorful textures.

After exploring the town, you're free to leave, and when you do so, you're taken to an overworld map. In the beginning of the game, only one of three sections of the map is open to you. You can't move on the overworld map; you simply have to choose from the available locations, and you'll instantly be transported to your destination.

The first available location is a forest area. When you first show up in the forest, a ghostly apparition appears, and the princess is able to subdue it by firing a light from her fingertips that encases the apparition in crystal, rendering it harmless. After a few seconds, the effect wears off, and the creature is able to attack again. Using this technique, you can avoid enemy encounters, but it's also useful for accessing out-of-reach areas. For example, you can freeze an enemy to use it as a platform to reach a high ledge. You can also instantly switch places with a frozen enemy by holding down the square button.

Of course, as with any role-playing game, you'll eventually need to fight to level up your characters. The battle system in Silmeria is distinctly Tri-Ace and will be familiar if you've played any of the developer's previous games. The battles take place on fairly large, open battlefields. You can control one character at a time, while the rest of your party sticks close by. Each character is assigned a button, and you can have up to four characters in your party at any time. When you move within range of an enemy, you can press the button that corresponds with the character that you want to attack with. It works similarly to the original Valkyrie Profile in that you can string together combos by having your characters attack one right after the other. There's also a break mode, where you can inflict heavy damage with all your characters at the same time. It's unclear exactly how this mode is triggered, but it's a nice effect nonetheless.

Early enemies in the game include things such as crabs, skeletons, and doglike beasts. It appears that you can target specific parts of the enemies' bodies, because when you strike an enemy, certain parts will be highlighted. Eventually, parts will fly off, so you might end up fighting a skeleton with no torso, for example. When fighting multiple enemies, one of them will be designated as the leader, and if you take that one out, you'll instantly win the battle.

Unlike some role-playing games, it doesn't take long to fill out your party in Silmeria. You start off with the sword-wielding princess and the archer and soon stumble upon two new spirits who join your party. One is a mage who can freeze enemies, and the other is a strong female warrior. Once you have four characters on your team, you can make short work of enemies. It's not quite a walk in the park, though, since your characters seem to stay tightly grouped, so when one takes damage, the others often do as well.

Valkyrie Profile 2 looks similar to Tri-Ace's previous game, Radiata Stories. The characters are all nicely detailed, and the attack animations are appropriately flashy. The environments look very good, as well, with highly detailed backgrounds and plenty of nice lighting effects. The sound in the game is on par with what you'd expect from a Square Enix role-playing game, with a ton of spoken dialogue and a dramatic but upbeat orchestral score.

Based on what we've played of the import, it looks like Valkyrie Profile 2 will remain faithful to it's origins by maintaining the same emphasis on action-oriented exploration and combat. As this is an import, we weren't able to gather much information about the story, but there certainly seems to be a lot of it. In the first hour of the game, there's at least one prerendered cutscene and half a dozen very lengthy in-game cutscenes. Silmeria is scheduled to hit North American shores in September, so be sure to keep an eye on the gamespace for more updates.

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