Review by Poyozo
108 Characters that you see once, and never again.
I'm a huge fan of the Suikoden series, I loved all of the games including four which until now I had never heard had bad reviews. I started up number five hoping to get the same interesting and memorable plot like the other series. I got what I expected out of the plot; however, everything else I was quite a bit disappointed in. Just a heads up before reading the rest of the review, I'm gonna be negative so if you don't think it was a terrible game, I'd suggest stop reading now. Another heads up, I'm not exactly an expert writer and often use run-on sentences, so be aware of this.
Well, it was terrible. This is no fabrication or stretching of the truth. Like the other Suikoden games, it often gives you a general direction of what to do and then you figure out where to go and along the way recruit some of the 108 characters, if this isn't your style of play, you can gladly advance the plot and nearer to the end of the game go back and recruit the characters. This is true, except that in five you risk missing many of the 108 characters by advancing the plot. I often advance the plot and come back for the characters like I've done in the other games, so fifteen hours into the game, I decide to do some recruiting. I look up a character recruitment guide, and I'm sure you can all guess what happened. I missed some characters, not just characters with a little bit of back story either. No, these were characters that appeared in the main plot line, and you had to recruit them by a certain point or they're gone for good and that "certain point" in the plot line isn't at all obvious. Now to the battle system. It's much like Suikoden II's battle system except that you can get through 90% of the battles in the battle by hitting the AUTO battle command. These 90% don't just include random encounters either, there are boss battles where hitting the auto command you will win. That and the random encounter rate is ridiculous, you can't take more then three steps without getting into a pointless battle. The battle system does however, have some defiant improvements over the others in the series such as the formation options. You can pick different ways to position your characters on the field, and by doing so you get stat boosts and special formation abilities that can be used once per battle. The skill system is back as well, except for in my opinion much, much worse. You can only equip two abilities and the amount of SP (Skill points) you get is, for lack of a better word, "GINORMOUS." Honestly, you never ever have a problem having enough SP except at the very beginning of the game, after that point, if you're character doesn't have enough battle time his or herself, you have a party SP as well. They improved the duel system which I was happy about, but made it all a bit to easy.
Plot was great, I'd rather not spoil it for those who have not played the game, so I'll leave this part short. The game starts off much like the other games. You start as a naive (and usually silent) protagonist who lives happily until something disastrous occurs. You then run around for a while learning more exactly about what happened and get while doing so you get a true rune. After that you get a headquarters and fight off the bad guys while recruiting the 108 different characters. The 108 characters all have a small amount of back story, which often is a bit disappointing because a lot of them have quite a bit of potential. You then either get the good ending by recruiting all of the characters and then defeating the bad guys once and for all, or the normal ending by just beating the game without all of the characters,
You might think me silly for throwing this in, but believe it's worth noting. It is simply amazing how often you're stuck in the loading screen. Easily the longest amount of time I've ever spent in a loading screen while playing a game. If you thought games like the Elder Scroll series had long and obnoxious load times you haven't experienced anything yet. Every time you enter a room, (new or old, it doesn't matter) enter or exit a fight, and before any story part, you are in for at least a five to fifteen second load time.
Music was great! The artists who make the sound track for the Suikoden series have yet to disappoint me. Defiantly a plus to the game. The music is very fitting to the surroundings and because of this make everything much more dramatic. Going on the voice acting was quite good. I put this in because, MOST of the character's voices were fitting of the character. There were a few exceptions and a few of the voices of the characters were obnoxious. The voice actors themselves did a great job of reflecting emotions and I would defiantly say it was probably one of the better aspects of this game. A disappointing aspect; however, is the lack of voice acting. You might hear someones voice once and then never hear them again because of the lack of character development.
I put this last because often times while playing games I don't really appreciate how much effort the game designers put into making all of the characters. Graphically speaking, Suikoden V didn't disappoint. It's nothing spectacular; however, it's a large improvement over Suikoden IV and Tactics. The faces and character models are very fluid and well animated. All of the 108 characters are easily discernible and because of this stand out from regular town folk. Where I was disappointed; however, was in battle. They could have done much more with the visual effects of the runes. Often times all it is, is the character raising his hand, the rune showing, and then a short and slightly disappointing animation.
Just an alright game in truth. Having a 108 different characters is neat, but to truly be a good game, they need to give the characters time to develop. The game play leaves much to be desired, which is my main rant about the game. Plot, soundtrack, and graphics were good to a point, but also left me hanging in a areas. The reason I gave this game a five was much because of the lack of game play. It's really hard to play a game where every thirty seconds (with twenty seconds of load time in between) you get into a battle where you push down five times to the AUTO button and then watch the same battle animations. If the game delivered more on the battle system and let you play through the game without having to stop advancing the story line to make sure you don't permanently miss a few characters. If the game had delivered on these things it would have easily gotten a ten.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
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