Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
Square-Enix seem to be the only ones still developing exclusive PS2-only games, and those are RPGs. We can’t blame them for delivering quality each time but it does make Sony’s previous gen system look like a cheap RPG bomb. Newest in Europe is Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. Does this offer the quality we’re used to from our Japanese buddies?
VP2:S is the prequel to Valkyrie Profile. You take on the role of Alicia, the princess of Dipan whose body is taken by Silmarie a Valkyria once loyal to the god Odin but banned after a twist. It needs no saying that two souls in one body brings problems. The people think Alicia has gone insane and Odin wants to bring back Silmeria to avoid too much disturbance. I won’t tell more as the story remains the key element in this RPG.
The thing that makes this game not just RPG number X is the fact that the gameplay is 2D side-scrolling. The first thing I wondered about is whether or not this would limit the freedom of the RPG like for instance in cities, but this wasn’t the case. The travelling between areas is done through a world map but in cities, buildings and dungeons a third dimension is created and with a push of a button you can go in an alley. Also the atmosphere isn’t hurt by this since the camera is hanging next to the character instead of above it so you get even more the feeling of taking part.
Let’s suppose we consider Final Fantasy XII as the top of graphical capabilities for the PS2, then Valkyrie Profile 2 is the Walhalla. Compare it with an old cow that manages to squeeze out a couple of drops of milk on her deathbed. It’s good to see that Square-Enix, now that the days of the PS2 are limited, manage to completely use the hardware of the console. Since just about the whole world wanted to give FFXII a 10 out of pure amazement about the image quality, on a graphical level I have no other choice than to give this title a symbolic 10.1.
The combat system is one that we haven’t crossed (a lot) yet in previous games. Here the game switches to 3D gameplay where you need to keep out of the line of sight of the enemy and attack him in the back by means of deadly combos. You can split up your parties in smaller groups to approach the opponent from various angles. It sounds complicated but works and the attacks go along with an arsenal of cool effects. Of course there’s plenty of weapons and armours for your characters eventhough these aren’t visible on the outside.
You’ll see your enemies walking around on the map as purple shadows and can freeze them with your magical ring. This makes for fun puzzle elements where you can freeze them and use their weight to push a button or rack them up to get to a higher platform.
For the music Square-Enix has again tracked down the best composers to make up a whole scala of songs, from faitytale background music to action-filled fight numbers. As always they work perfectly but unfortunately the voices have also been done by actors. I want to imagine voices myself and faggot voicing can really ruin the atmosphere.
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is a game that will keep you busy for a couple of dozen hours. It’s something different – and pleasant – so play a side-scrolling RPG. The story does its job more than adequate and the new combat system is cool without getting boring. The graphics are amazing and so is the music. The voice-acting could have been left out for me, but if you’re an RPG fan and want to take out your PS2 once again then you really should buy this one!