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Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: tri-Ace
Genre: Action RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 09/26/06
Japan 06/22/06



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Is that...?
 
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Some of the PS2's great graphics.
 
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Breathtaking CG.
 
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Particle Effects!
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John McCarroll
Hands-On Preview
09/12/06
John McCarroll

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth for the PlayStation Portable allowed gamers to take another glimpse at a PSOne classic. Square Enix, not a company to be satisfied with a portable remake of a title, is bringing out a full-on sequel to Valkyrie Profile at the end of the month. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is far from a carbon copy of the first game, with a re-tooled battle system and a more linear focus. Based on what we've played of the title, it's going to be absolutely fantastic when it hits store shelves at the end of September.

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria focuses on the life of the Princess of Dipan, Alicia, and the Valkyrie that has inhabited her body since birth, Silmeria. Early on in life, Alicia was spirited away from the kingdom of Dipan due to her affliction, and the majority of the world believes her to be dead. Odin is not pleased with Silmeria traipsing about Midgard, however, and has sent the eldest Valkyrie, Hrist, to retrieve Silmeria and bring her back to Asgard. Unhappy with Odin's proclamation, Silmeria ventures out with Alicia, Rufus (a mysterious archer), and the Einherjar that Silmeria managed to bring with her to Midgard. There, Silmeria hopes to find the Dragon Orb, one of the artifacts that can overpower Odin himself, and thus start a war with the gods.

Valkyrie Profile 2's epic story is bolstered by the game's brilliant graphics, which are some of the best the PlayStation 2 can produce. Characters look absolutely spectacular, and animate incredibly well: whether in combat, on the two-dimensional planes that comprise the game's towns and dungeons, or in the game's numerous cutscenes. The environments are also breathtaking, partially due to the fact that they can only be viewed from certain angles and the developers can shove more polygons on those sides, and flesh out locales only seen as 2D sprites in the first Valkyrie Profile.

Aurally, the game is certainly on the right track. English voice acting was already present in the version we were able to get our hands on, and it seems impressive thus far. There was some issue with characters' lips not syncing with the dialogue, but it's a minor squabble when compared to the skill of the voice cast. Motoi Sakuraba returns with his same "love it or hate it" style of music, and while I find myself disliking his music more often than not, I found myself fairly impressed with the Valkyrie Profile 2 score.

Continuing with the precedent left by its predecessor, Silmeria provides one of the most enjoyable action-oriented battle systems to date. Like VP: Lenneth's battle system, attacks are driven by the four face buttons of the PS2 controller, each linked to the four characters on the screen. Unlike the original title's system, however, Silmeria's battle system finds itself tied to movement and Action Points instead of the turn-based bent the Valkyrie Profile series was born with. Each attack a player uses, each item consumed by the party, and each spell cast by magic users cost the player AP. Enemies have several different zones in which they can be attacked; these parts can be destroyed to prevent an enemy to use an attack, to keep them from moving, or to gain an item from destroying that part. To keep the party from being beat up on as the player decides their next course of action, nothing on the battlefield moves while Alicia and her party are stationary, but as soon as they begin to move, enemies move as well. As the party moves, they regenerate their AP, but the enemies' cones of attack come closer and closer to the party. If any character finds themselves within the cone of attack, the enemy's combat begins and they strike out with their ability. Players don't find themselves entirely helpless when it comes to moving about the battlefield, however, as a mere 15 AP allows the party to dash to another position, ignoring any cones of attack they move over. Of course, if a dash ends in the middle of one of these zones, it's not a happy thing for the party.

Experience is distributed in a fairly standard way, though characters also gain skill points. Skill points aren't distributed in the way they are in most RPGs, however; they are instead based on the runes the character's gear has. Once they've allocated enough skill points, the character can equip the skill. Much like every other tri-Ace RPG, the battle system and skill system are exploitable by the hardcore RPGFan.

Dungeons themselves are filled with puzzles, and feature the Photon Action system, which is a bit similar to the original title's crystal system. Alicia can launch a photon that can be used to freeze enemies or swap positions with them. Dungeons follow the same multiple-plane system as the first game, and can move left or right on a plane or go up or down onto parallel planes. The enemies respawn each time you move between rooms, so it can be easy to farm experience and gear from enemies. Using these parts, players are able to synthesize equipment in an interesting way; each vendor can craft a certain set of gear, but only when they've been sold the specific materials gained from destroying different parts of enemies. Selling some of the items can be a difficult decision, as these items may cut the player off from learning a certain skill until another item with the same rune can be found.

When we awarded Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria our Best RPG of E3 award, we were extremely impressed with the game's battle system and presentation, and it has carried over into the hours we've played of the game. Silmeria may find itself with a more linear presentation than Lenneth, but the newest tri-Ace RPG is just as high quality as the PSOne classic, yet with more appeal to a general audience. Anyone who is a fan of tri-Ace's RPGs or is just looking for the next best thing should check out Valkyrie Profile 2 when it hits the PS2 later this month.



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© 2006 SQUARE ENIX CO.,LTD. All Rights Reserved. Developed by tri-Ace Inc.



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