'Valkyria Chronicles' Stands the Test of Time

By Jeb Haught

November 15, 2014 5 min read

DEVELOPER: Sega

PUBLISHER: Sega

SYSTEM: Windows PC

PRICE: $20

ESRB RATING: Teen

REVIEW RATING: 5.0 stars (out of 5)

Six years ago, Sega introduced "Valkyria Chronicles" on the PS3, but sales were poor despite the high quality of the game. Although two sequels were released on the PSP, neither one captured the charm of the original. Now "Valkyria Chronicles" has been ported to the PC with additional content, and the game is better than ever!

Players assume the role of a soldier named Welkin in an alternate-reality version of WWII. As the mighty Empire send their forces to capture the town of Gallia, Welkin commands his band of soldiers to fend them off. Soon they discover that a supernatural race known as the Valkyria will force them to risk their lives in order to secure not only their homeland, but also the rest of Europe!

It's not every day that I get to play a JRPG turn-based strategy shooter. In fact, "Valkyria Chronicles" is the only one I've ever experienced! It basically boils down to a turn-based strategy game in which players guide a squad of soldiers around various battlefields in both top-down and third-person views, and they also get to aim and shoot weapons in real time. In addition, there are several classes of soldier that can all be upgraded in a variety of ways.

Other cool aspects of this game include the gorgeous cel-shaded visuals and unique Japanese art style. It's a direct contradiction to the horrors of war that the game depicts. I also love how there's such a large pool of soldiers to choose from that have different strengths and weaknesses as well as different personalities.

As if all of this weren't enough, the PC version is packed with several additional missions that were previously only available as downloadable content. Six years after the original release, "Valkyria Chronicles" makes a welcome return and proves that its unique formula was ahead of its time!

'LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham'

DEVELOPER: Traveler's Tales

PUBLISHER: Warner Bros.

SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 4

PRICE: $59.99

ESRB RATING: Everyone

REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)

LEGO video games had humble beginnings, but they've become so popular that they've expanded to cover numerous well-known franchises. Like modern animated movies, LEGO games have evolved to include features that delight both children and adults. "LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham" expands on that premise to offer the most complex and robust LEGO game to date.

As the title suggests, this game takes Batman far beyond Gotham and even into the reaches of space as he battles the malevolent mastermind, Braniac. With the help of the Legion of Doom, Braniac has started shrinking planets to create an ... err ... otherworldly collection, and only Batman and his cohorts can save the universe!

While this game focuses on the caped crusader, it also allows players to control a huge selection of other characters, including the Justice League. Not only can players assume the role of legendary heroes such as Wonder Woman, Plastic Man and The Flash, but they can also switch to alternate versions of each character simply by switching their suits.

Another enjoyable new ability is piloting different vehicles. Sure, it's fun to drive ground vehicles, but flying in space is super cool! Space missions offer not only a unique new perspective of the game, but also add a welcome bit of variety. I just wish there were more of these segments and fewer puzzles that require certain characters wearing certain suits to solve.

In addition to the main missions, players can visit infamous DC locales such as the Batcave and the Hall of Justice to customize characters and vehicles. There's also a bonus level inspired by the classic Batman TV series and an expansive freeplay mode that lets players explore the seven Lantern Corps planets.

Although "LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham" doesn't break much new ground, it does offer a gigantic amount of fun game play for all ages!

REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM

5 stars = Must Have

4 stars = Very Good

3 stars = Above Average

2 stars = Bargain Bin

1 star = Don't Bother

RATINGS KEY

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

E: (Everyone)

E10+: (Everyone 10 and older)

T: Teen (13 and older)

M: Mature (17 and older)

 "LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham"
"LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham"

To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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