Still working on a proper Valkyria Chronicles game review (the anime is holding things together reasonably well as of the 6th episode, if never particularly wowing, either). In the mean time I’ve just finished playing through two of the downloadable content items available for it, and wanted to toss up some notes for those thinking about buying.
The first of them, the Edy Detachment, will set you back US$4.99 in the PS3 online store, and adds a single mission to play through, with multiple potential ends. The set-up is pretty simple; you have a preselected squad of some of the most humorous Squad 7 members dropped in the middle of a heap of Imperial troops and tanks. Goal 1 is to survive three rounds of chaos without any of the Imperials setting foot in your base area, followed by a rescue that requires you to get Edy to the far end of the map while having the remaining members hold down the fort.
In terms of mechanics, you’ve got a group of 7th level characters on a daytime version of the Veggie Incident map, and a lot of enemies. Enemy reinforcements arrive at the beginning of every round, just in case you were getting delusions of clearing the entire map (or walking away from your base). Why might you want to leave the base? Because it’s getting rained on by mortar fire.
Between that and the two tanks in immediate range, the map starts out brutal and will have you scampering about trying not to get mortared while desperately trying to keep a wayward scout from setting foot in your base. Certainly challenging and full of danger, and combined with the motley crew you have to work with, it has a different enough flavor from any of the main game missions to make it memorable.
From the plot end, it takes things in a humorous direction, and it’s even more fun to see a set of characters other than the main plot’s core interact and get some speaking lines. You’ve got a colorful crew: Hothead self-appointed leader Edy, Jann the huge, girly-man lancer, Suzie the pacifist scout (remember, she sometimes just can’t bring herself to actually shoot), the angelic, fragile, masochistic engineer Homer, and deadpan straight-woman sniper Marina. The one switch-up is a new character: A driven Darksen shocktrooper named Lynne who joined up after the events of the Marberry Shore (timeline-wise, this presumably takes place shortly afterward).
The section opens with the amusing group bickering in the framed-head-cutscene style (there are, sadly, no full-body sequences), proceeds through combat with a few bits of dramatic back-and-forth between the characters and enemy, and wraps up with a second cutscene that varies in length and content depending on how well you finish. A C rank gets you something quick and funny, B a much longer, somewhat touching scene, and an A rewards you with something rather hilarious (I won’t give away what, but it’s the most over-the-top bit of humor in the entire game and I’d say worth the trouble of finishing in 4 rounds).
It also does include the full dialogue in both Japanese and English, sticking with whichever you have set. I was very glad to see this, since I played through with the Japanese dialogue, and the acting on these characters is colorful and solid (I didn’t listen to the English version). On the down side, the text of the dialogue, as in the game proper, matches the English script, which means it differs significantly from the Japanese in a few spots.
In all, the character interaction is fun, funny, definitely a change of pace, and I thoroughly enjoyed the selectively more humorous spotlight on a different set of characters in the game.
So that leaves the question of whether it’s worth five bucks. Frankly, for most people, probably not. The mission itself, even with the second part, is short—maybe a half-dozen rounds long, much of which will be spent jogging back and forth in your base to avoid those big, scary mortar circles. The plot is a lot of fun, but again there isn’t even a fully-animated visual section. Substantive dialogue from a different set of characters is a definite selling point (half of the appeal of the game, after all, is the involved story), but that brings me to the most frustrating part of all: Lynne, so far as I can tell, does not get added to the squad in the main game. (Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong.) This seems like a rather glaring oversight, particularly since the 2nd downloadable story nugget does add something.
Bottom line is, I thoroughly enjoyed it while it lasted, but for 1/10 the price of the whole game it’s pretty lean on material and doesn’t even give any bonus goodies. The same can not be said for the other two, which I will cover later.
[On a peripherally related rant, I like (and by like, I mean the opposite) how Sony sets prices like $4.99 in the PS3 store, but only lets you add money in $5 chunks. So you save a penny, except it's stranded in your account. Unless, I suppose, you buy 100 items, at which point you've got a buck extra. At least Nintendo uses nice, round numbers.]