The Good: Deep strategy, great story and characters, lots of classes to play as, looks good
The Bad: Small maps, huge difficulty spikes, heavy menus, character progression is slow
Valkyria Chronicles II sets you right in the middle of a war between a government and rebels of Gallia, but what you really get into are the characters themselves and how they cope with each other. The game is set in a fictional WWII type setting, and is completely original. This turned based strategy game can get pretty complex, and is a lot to swallow at first, but after awhile you'll get the hang of it.
The game is pretty menu heavy, especially before deploying into missions. You can level up your classes (instead of individual characters) as well as produce weapons for each class, and your tank. These are simple enough, but you have to unlock new weapons by leveling up. What disappointed me about this is that the weapon upgrades are very minimal and it's not until later levels that the stat boosts are large.
Once you do all this you can re-arrange your groups because each missions requires the right kind of people. There are different classes like Lancers (anti-tank), Scouts, Shocktroopers (Heavy Machine Gunners), Engineers (medics), Armored Techs (melee) etc. You can only have 6 people deployed per missions, and only 5 for each area. While this may be a pain since you'll have 5 guys in one area and 1 in another there's strategic workarounds for this. Once you start a missions you get an overhead map that shows your guys and the enemies. Killing enemies is as simple as moving them around in real time, but each character has a different stamina meter, so watch out.
Each character uses one CP (turns) and tanks use two, so you really have to choose your moves wisely. While you're moving around to position enemies can shoot at you, but you can take cover behind sandbags. Killing enemies consists of getting the right amount of shots in before you reach your limit. Instead of relying on just draining HP you have a shot limit and when you aim at an enemy (depending on their type as well) another number will show how many shots it will take to kill that enemy. Head shots are always your best bet, but getting in close works too.
You can also find shortcuts through out the map since most have you moving to different areas. Using a tank you can build bridges and flank the enemy or build ladders. Once you capture an enemy camp you can put your troops on standby and deploy them on captured camps in other areas. Be aware though because enemies and recapture those and render you unable to deploy in the new area unless you have at least one person there.
The battles can be pretty intense, but they also require perfect strategy and it seems that most of the time only one will work. Certain missions have special requirements like escorting, or certain players must be deployed. If you find that you need other abilities you can retrain troops to different classes (if you're short on one class) or change their abilities like making a scout a sniper, or making a Lancer a Mortar. Some times perks will be activated on the field that do good or bad depending on the character. If a character doesn't like one it's near it'll have a negative effect. Details like this can really let you pin down a strategy, but most others can ignore it.
Outside the battlefield you move around campus and talk to people to progress the story, but that's pretty much all there is to it. The game looks really good with a nice anime art style, and the voice acting is decent, but not amazing. The small map size will make fans of the PS3 original angry, but it's perfect for a portable system. The game is pretty stat and menu heavy, and the difficulty spikes may make you actually give up all together. I couldn't get past the second story based escort missions due to the insanely powerful enemies, and you have to get the strategy down perfect or it just won't work out. Other than this the game is superbly fun and with about 40 hours of game play you should be kept busy.