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Valkyria: Azure Revolution hands-on – Compromises lead to a stable game

As you might guess based on the universal malign this game has gotten, Valkyria: Azure Revolution is nothing at all like the beloved PlayStation 3 classic it shares its name with. In fact, if we’re looking for a similar comparison to put this title in perspective, a better way to put it is Final Fantasy XV smashed together with a Dynasty Warriors game.

Naturally, this means combat unfolds on a battlefield, and your squad must snag checkpoints and control the flow of battle to achieve victory. Individual skirmishes are meaningless if the grand battle is lost. Attack the right place at the right time, and these skirmishes can make all the difference.

Those worried about a mindless action game can rest easy. There is a brain behind the chaos here, but a bit of a small one. Each character has special abilities that will aid in battle, like sniper rifles, smoke grenades, and bazookas. These ranged abilities weed out enemies hunkered behind sandbags, weakening them and thinning their numbers before the main melee segments start.

From there, characters have strong attacks, wreak attacks, magic attacks, the usual. This game allows for some combos, but it revolves more around timing and waiting for an action meter to charge before choosing your next attack. Magic attacks are chosen from a menu, giving it an RPG feel, but the melee attacks are controlled with typical button commands. These feel a like “hack ‘n slash light,” clunkier than the best the action genre has to offer.

Compared to Final Fantasy XV, it’s a much simpler combat system. After three skirmishes, a battle with an enormous robot, and 17 minutes of fidgeting through the Japanese, I got it. No problem. It doesn’t feel “good” just yet, but the melee attacks are serviceable.

I want to see this game on a larger scale, not a linear battlefield with a handful of checkpoints connected by narrow canyons. If this game opens itself up, it has a chance to defy odds and become a fun game. Until then, it’s merely okay, a sub-product compared to Final Fantasy XV and Valkyria Chronicles.

Valkyria: Azure Revolution will be released for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in Japan on Jan. 17. No localization has been confirmed yet.

Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...