My grunts were under fire and pinned down. They'd advanced undercover from my tank, which had been fearsomely dominating the battlefield until it'd encountered a well-placed blockade that stopped it in its tracks and rendered it now quite useless.
I'd sent the call out for a couple of snipers and had begun bombarding the enemy front line with mortars while waiting for my recruits to arrive. Soon enough the choke point had been sniped clear and my advance continued. Right into an ambush.
The battles in Valkyria Chronicles 4 are full of twists and turns like this. Just when you think victory is in your grasp, you suddenly find it's not. It's the kind of thing that could be frustrating but you quickly learn to roll with the punches, even if it does mean the occasional firefight outstays its welcome.
The gameplay here is as addictive as ever for Sega's long-running war series. It's a unique hybrid of turn-based, thinky strategy and real-time action-adventure thrills that sees you studying an overhead map and spending points to command your troops before zooming down into a third person view to take direct control of your soldiers and get the job done. Or, more likely, try not to get them shot dead... The game's certainly no pushover and you'll quickly learn to save often.
The immersion is helped by how great Valkyria Chronicles 4 looks. Its Japanese manga-style graphics realised in a quite lovely watercolour effect. While clearly fantasy, the story draws parallels to real battles in World War II, as you lead Company E in an ill-advised push deep into enemy territory. While it does get a little melodramatic and silly in that usual manga way, the horrors of war are usually not too far away.
If strategy and tactics are your bag then there's a lot here for armchair generals to engage with.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
M (Mature themes and violence)
Perfect for armchair generals