Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

a game by Square Enix
Platform: Playstation 2
Editor Rating: 8.2/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 2 votes
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8

Finally, a Japanese role-playing game for everyone who hates how talky and slow-moving the genre has become Silmeria thrusts you into an action-packed quest laden with complex dungeons, tricky puzzles, and plenty of intense, strategic combat. Don't expect a real crowd-pleaser, though VP2 isn't afraid to kick your ass and leave you for dead. But hardcore questers who welcome a sizable challenge will likely love what developer tri-Ace has done with this new Profile. Although narrative often takes center stage in RPGs, gameplay reigns supreme in Valkyrie Profile. And, at its core, Silmeria plays much like its PS1 predecessor you control a spunky Nors Valkyrie who amasses a small army of warriors (both living and deceased) while traversing various towns and dungeons. Surprisingly, exploration here still unfolds like in an old-school 2D platformer. You're constantly running, jumping, solving puzzles, and dodging enemies in real time; VP2:s tightened-up controls and clever new twists (the previous game s Photon system now fmllowsyou to both freeze enemies and teleportto their location) make these labyrinths wonderfully engaging. Plus, the mazes get exponentially more complicated as you progress, thanks to the new Seal Stone system (you can add or remove gems that imbue either your party or dungeons themselves with various effects) and plenty of difficult block-sliding puzzles. Whereas the original VP's battles are simple 2D affairs that often boil down to frantic button mashing, Silmeria's new 3D melees actually demand your full tactical attention. You still execute attacks by jamming on the face buttons each one corresponds to a party member), but now you must also run around the battleground, carefully choosing your opponents while trying to avoid enemies' sights. You have several attacl options you can choose to quickly fell the leader (thereby ending the battle early), target foes individual body parts (to snag bonus items) or split up your party to handle multiple enemies at once. With all these options at your disposal, combat never bores, and the game s many boss encounters provide the perfect showcase for how deep the system truly is. Silmeria isn't a complete success, however. The otherwise fantastic combat engine sometimes glitches out when you use the R1 button to dash around the battlefield your party members can get stuck, becoming easy targets for foes. Lame. And the overly intricate skill and equipment systems could have easily been streamlined ..the game is tough enough already. But really, the game's plot presents the biggest problem. Narratively, it's a slow burn from the outset newcomer Alicia fails to inspire confidence as a heroine, and her exploits don't really get interesting until the endgame. Likewise, very little effort goes into characterizing her comrades (scope the sidebar to see the sad fate of the Einherjar), making them infinitely interchangeable and weirdly disposable. Luckily, stellar gameplay, lush audiovisual trappings, and sizable challenges easily eclipse the story line's shortcomings.

9

The PS2 has certainly aged well. We are seeing some truly beautiful games in the console's twilight years, and Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is no exception. The game's realistic visual style (which looks a lot like Square Enix's upcoming Final Fantasy XII, oddly enough) pushes the PS2 to the brink every environment and character impress with meticulous detail and breathtaking lighting. You'll even spot some cool depth-of-field and focus tricks that lend the game an unexpected cinematic edge. You'll still be traversing dungeons, temples, and towns in classic side-scrolling VP1 style, but the surprising new 3D battle system might overwhelm even returning VP fans. Those with enough patience to master its complexities will be rewarded with some of the best role-playing combat in the genre, but don't expect an easy acclimation. After a few hours of practice and a lot of dying I was darting across the battlefield, splitting up my party, and tag-teaming hordes of lizards, kobolds, and all other manner of fantasy beasts in a flurry of seizure-inducing magic attacks and flashy sword combos.

8

This Valkyrie Profile prequel certainly took a long time, and it's really quite amazing that one was made at all. So thank developer tri-Ace for caving in to fan demand and creating the | sequel everyone wanted but didn't expect. It's funny, though, even with six years between Lenneth and Silmeria, how familiar things seem. While obviously a design choice, the decision to Stic with side-scrolling exploration segments in towns and cities allows the developer to create beautiful 3D environments that maintain the spirit of the 2D backdrops of the original. Shimmering, warm, and bright, Silmeria's landscapes sparkle in the glow of an almost overt use of oversaturated lighting effects. Of course, it goes the other way once you make you way down into any of the game's wonderfully labyrinthine dungeons. While the graphic detail of the dungeons veers from mediocre to stunning, one thing that always remains beautiful to watch is the battles themselves, particularly the Soul Crush moves. Silmeria isn't easy, though. If you don't pay attention to the equipment you're wearing, explore all of the abilities at your disposal, or master the art of dashing in the increasingly difficult battles, you may find Silmeria tough going. But veterans who wanted a fresh spin on the original formula will truly enjoy tri-Ace's best game since the original Valkyrie Profile.

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Game Reviews

It's a beautiful thing when an obscure, yet much lauded series experiences resurgence. The original Valkyrie Profile received great critical acclaim for breaking traditional J-RPG molds with its unique mechanics, non-linear gameplay and a somber tale based on Norse mythology. Six years later Valkyrie Profile is receiving both a re-release on the PSP and a highly anticipated sequel on the PS2.

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria tells the tale of Silmeria, a rogue Valkyrie trapped for unknown reasons inside the body of the young Princess Alicia. Alicia is a timid and naA?ve young woman, while Silmeria is a hardened god bent on exacting revenge on Odin for her current predicament. Together this decidedly odd couple journey across Midgard in search of an artifact that will grant Silmeria her wish. It's an interesting and refreshingly different story that'll take you to good part of 40 hours to see to its end.

Like its predecessor, Valkyrie Profile 2's exploration sequences play out in only two dimensions despite being lovingly rendered in 3d. This works quite nicely and lends the game an atypical look while providing some unique platforming challenges to the game's many dungeons. Coming into contact with enemies while exploring, drops you into a fully 3d and semi real time battle. Combat is largely about maneuvering your party into striking distance of your enemies while avoiding their clearly marked target zones. Offense is essentially just like it was in the last game, requiring you to combo together your party's attacks in order to charge your 'Heat'? gauge and unleash Soul Crush super attacks which in turn can be strung together to create an over the top visual feast of butt kicking. The battles are engaging and remain so over the course of the game, but it should also be noted that Valkyrie Profile 2 breaks from recent RPG ideologies by being quite challenging to the casual player. In order to survive you'll often have to grind levels and carefully equip your party. You'll also have to tease out some deep but poorly explained mechanics such as how you gain skills by linking together armor. If you can overcome these hurdles you'll find a lot to like here.

Visually this game looks gorgeous. The environments and characters are lovingly rendered while the battles are both visually exciting and visceral as enemies blast apart piece by piece. Booming sound effects and outrageous battle cries also serve to enhance the experience. It's fortunate that the voice acting is good because there is a great deal of spoken dialogue to listen to. A solid if slightly generic soundtrack rounds out the presentation.

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria expands on many of the things that made the original so appealing. If you can get past the stiff difficulty, it has all the elements of a great RPG with its intriguing storyline, compelling combat and deep game mechanics. If you're a fan of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth or simply a RPG lover looking for something that breaks from tradition, then this title is definitely worth your time.

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