Wednesday, August 23, 2006

VG REVIEW: Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

Square Enix, for PlayStation Porta­ble
rated T for Teen (fantasy vio­lence, language, suggestive themes, use of alcohol), $39.99.

When "Valkyrie Profile" first came out for Sony PlayStation in 2000, it was pretty much ignored due to the debut of PlayStation 2.

Since then, critical acclaim and strong word of mouth have made the game a much-sought after item, to the point where it garners high prices on sites like eBay.

Now Square Enix has seen fit to bring the game back for a second go-around, this time for PlayStation Portable (a PS2 sequel will arrive in stores next month).

Redubbed "Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth," the game sports new CG cut scenes but basically remains the same role-playing game that came out six years ago.

The plot centers on a young Valkyrie warrior named (you guessed it) Lenneth, who is charged with forming an army to battle alongside the Norse gods at Ragnarok, the ultimate, apocalyptic showdown in Asgard.

To do this she must scour the countryside for fallen fighters, who, at the time of their death, have the opportunity to be "drafted." Each soldier has his or her own back story, which isn’t to say that the stories are always interesting or coherent.

Once she’s gotten a group together, Lenneth must then train these combatants by having them battle ugly monsters in forests, swamps, caves and other dark, dank places.

Training doesn’t just involve grinding up levels (although there’s plenty of that here too). You also have to teach them new skills and alter their "traits" so they become more herolike.

Once a warrior is fit to head to Asgard, you send them on their way and start on other recruits (battle reports from Asgard will be sent to you periodically).

As the above description suggests, "Valkyrie Profile" is a multifaceted game that’s a cut above what passes for most rpgs these days. Its complexity and novelty makes it tremendously appealing, despite its age.

Which is not to say there aren’t problems, the biggest of which being that the game doesn’t do nearly enough to guide the player through its various intricacies.

I never was sure, for example, when was a good time to send my warriors up to Asgard. Is there some sort of level that’s ideal?

For that matter, where do I go to get equipment for my characters? What’s the deal with the magic gems that drop sometimes in battle? And why isn’t Odin missing an eye? For a complex role-playing game, "Valkyrie Profile" is maddeningly vague about its details.

Despite that, it’s still a game worth playing, especially if you missed out on it the first time around. In a time where rpgs play like they come out of the same factory, "Valkyrie Profile" has character. And that’s not something to be regarded lightly.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


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