Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria - PS2 - Preview 2
The original Valkyrie Profile was one of several unique RPGs Square released for the PSone. Released in 2000, the swan song year for the console, Valkyrie Profile featured a unique combat system that wasn't anything like the Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Parasite Eve or Xenogears titles that came before it. Following in the footsteps of Metal Gear Solid, this was a shorter, semi-cinematic, hardcore adventure with gritty graphics, a dark story, and an original soundtrack.
Six years later, Valkyrie Profile comes to PlayStation 2 during what might turn out to be its swan song year. The sequel, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, sounds an awfully lot like (but should not be compared to) the kingdom of Slimenia, where the inhabitants of Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime reside. Rocket Slime is bright and colorful. Silmeria is anything but.
Prior to the current Valkyrie Profile's quest, a Valkyrie named Slimeria served the all-mighty Odin. Silmeria never faltered in her support, until a mysterious incident tore them apart. Odin was unhappy, and decided to reincarnate her as a human. She found herself in the body of the Princess of Dipan, a woman named Alicia. Although it was assumed that her spirit would lay dormant like a headless zombie, that did not turn out to be the case. Silmeria's transmigration with Alicia somehow caused her spirit to awaken. Two souls, one body. Who will win the fight and take over the flesh? Are both strong enough to have equal say in the body's decisions?
There is no denying what your first thought will be when you enter this game’s world: these graphics are unbelievable. A part of me knows this is a PS2 game, but another part of me questions just where all that power is coming from. Character movement is still side-scrolling, just like in the original. But the graphics are fully three-dimensional, utilizing every lighting, shadow, animation, and texture effect at the PS2’s disposal. You will be amazed as you explore Dipan for the first time. Things as simple as grass look amazing when rendered with such beauty, and animated with such perfect, subtle realism.
Valkyrie Profile 2’s battle system is a more modern version of the original. Replacing the enemy-freezing ice power is a special crystal that lets you temporarily paralyze enemies and exchange places (teleport) with them. Paralyzed enemies may also be pushed, climbed on, and who knows what else?
Battles still occur on a separate field, with direct monster encounters being the necessary trigger before conflict can begin. Character movement is more open than ever now that the game has been given a new engine. Once engaged in combat, the world turns three-dimensional. The camera stays behind the character(s), a la third-person action games. Enemies litter the area (no fewer than two, except for boss battles where there may only be one), and just as you may decide who to strike and who to avoid outside of combat, you have that option here as well. If you attack and defeat the enemy leader, all other enemies will disappear. You may not be rewarded the maximum EXP, but at least the battle will be over.
Which can be good or bad. Like the first game, Valkyrie Profile 2 doesn’t give you much time to get the hang of things. The quest is a bit more straightforward this time around, with fewer confusing gameplay moments and a more thoroughly explained storyline. But the enemies are tough, and one of the key points of turning this into a 3D battle system is that you may now sneak up on them and attack. This is difficult and risky. You might get lucky and drag the whole party into combat, successfully defeating the enemy before it has a chance to react. But you may also separate your party to sneak up more carefully. While an interesting addition, fans will no doubt have a bit of a struggle period, especially when they encounter more powerful enemies.
You may retreat by finding special exit points in the battle area (highlighted in yellow). And though this game is very challenging, you won’t get anywhere without defeating enemies. EXP is not obtained by retreating, only by defeating your adversaries. It goes without saying that battles will be easier to fight as your characters grow in strength. But that’s not the only thing to consider when deciding whether or not to fight. Whereas last time you were required to send your comrades into battle, this time you are asked to free their souls. Not everyone must be freed, which hopefully means not every party member will disappear. But inevitably, some must be let go.
Due this September, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria looks like it's going to be every bit as engrossing as the original. Hone your battle skills now gamers – if the original is any indication, you're going to need to be in tiptop shape if you want to conquer this beast.