Review by DragonClaw01
It is good to be the prince.
Suikoden, Konamis flagship RPG title has been on the market for a very long time. All the games in this series have featured epic army battles, runes and of coarse 108 allies to befriend also known as the stars of destiny. Many fans really enjoyed Suikoden Vs take on the series due to going back to its roots. The end result was a sense of enjoyment, but a feeling that perhaps certain aspects of Suikoden V were too hyped up, namely the story.
The story starts off in Queendom of Falena, a land ruled by a sole queen, who happens to be the mother of the main character, the prince of Falania. Two factions via for control of the Queendom of Falena the Barrows and the Godwinds. To protect the Queendom the queen has taken the power of the sun rune, a rune with the power to destroy the world. What will happen to the Queendom and the prince? The story is ok. The main problem with the story is that it seems to just become an endless tirade of fighting battles and gaining allies for your cause to overthrow the usurpers. The game could have went with more detail into the true runes, the Sindar and Nethergate, all of which could of gave the game impressive diversions from the epic warfare plot of Suikoden V. Instead these topics are lightly touched upon and add only intrigue into the setting. The plot twists are impressive ranging from schemes that changes the face of war to allies betraying you. The story line does a good job of not telegraphing these, but they did not seem to crank up the suspense factor of the plot, more the intrigue because most of these plot twists rarely make your main character change the path he is going on, just add another hurdle. The main problem with the plot is that it feels too cliché, the premise is simply to overthrow the usurpers to the crown. A few compliments on the plot are that after the initial 8 hours of plot there is very little filler. The plot is well written too, although the endgame felt rushed as the final boss did not have much time to show his real powers. There are also little nuances to the plot that the director did not make obvious, meaning that one may want to play the game over again to fully understand the plot. Characterization is Suikodens strong point. The characters are diverse and all of have personalities of their own, all 108 of them. There is a lot of dialog to experience as well in Suikoden V for those that enjoy learning about the game world. - The plot is solid, but certainly over hyped- 7
Gameplay: Gameplay is standard RPG fare with a few interesting diversions. For most of the game you will wander around world maps, ruins and towns like most RPGs encountering various enemies in random encounters and gaining loot. Loot can be anything from paintings that need identification to assembling rune orbs. Learning were to find the powerful rune orb pieces in the game adds considerable replay value. The game does offer a world map, but one spends less time on the world map than most games and hence the sense of exploration is smaller than most. By collecting the 108 allies one will add considerable time to the game. Every one of the allies has a side quest to be completed before joining. Unlike Suikoden 3 getting allies is time dependent, meaning that if a player advances to far in the story they may miss out on certain allies. There are also a certain detective that will tell you were these stars of destiny are located, meaning you will not waste your time going all over the world trying to recruit these allies. The loading times that were widely complained over are seemly average for a ps2 era games and nothing to worry about.
The battle system in Suikoden is very simple featuring 6 person parties, coop attacks (like chrono trigger), the formation system and finally a rune based magic system. The 6 person battles flow incredibly smoothly and add a lot of dept choosing which members to have on your team. The battles strategies are usually heavily offensive and over in a few seconds, but lack the intricate back and forth magic battles like many games. The formation system adds strategy because certain formations give benefits to stats and even strong six player coop attacks. The rune system is a very interesting way to do magic. Instead using MP one uses magic levels. You have a certain amount of spell uses per magic level. This means that spells are generally limited and conserving you magic uses is very important because one has so few of them. The combat system is simple and elegant, but lacks complex dept and strategy. The battles are very easy for the most part and the game system makes it quick to level up if you are under level meaning that you will always keep up with the enemies.
The army wars and duels are two other types of battles and play a critical role in both advancing the plot and making the game unique to traditional RPGs. The army battles are huge real time wars were the player must defeat the opponents army to win. The army battles are rock, papers, scissors affairs with archers beating calvary, calvary beating infantry and infantry beating archers. To off set this simplicity there are also certain units, commands and magic which offset this triangle, but unfortunately the enemy makes little use of this allowing you to dominate the enemy forces. Later in the game the battles get even easier because all you have to do is rush into the city to win, often without even having to have your armies clash forces with the opponent, but you lose out on interesting loot this way. Duels are also rock, paper scissors affairs were you have three commands: attack, defend special. You must judge what your opponent is going to do by his dialog and counter appropriately to win. These are fun and a very interesting way to do a battle instead of simply doing a boss fight. Gameplay is fun, but too easy 7
Graphics/Sound: The graphics are the best yet in the series and are very impressive. They look like they are cut straight out of an anime and look very clean. The world that you explore is very diverse and heavily influenced by both Japanese and medieval architecture. All the towns seem to have their own look and feel to them, but use too much white and so do not seem very colorful. The higher rune spells are very impressive featuring huge explosions, but do not bog combat down. Sound is impressive. The character voices in the cinema scents are well done. The musical score is very impressive and has slight references to earlier Suikodens in their tracks. Visuals are clean and sound impressive- 8
Replay: The game is worth playing again. There are many different allies to experiment with. The story line is basic but enjoyable enough for a second playthrough. You probably will not miss much from the story, but there are a few interesting parts that a player can overlook. Finding rune pieces and recruiting allies are the main repayable aspects. There are multiple endings depending on how many allies were recruited, but the game is forty to sixty hours long so it will take a long time to see them all. A player attempting this might want to save after the eight hour mark so they can skip the opening part of the game which is loaded with dialog. The game is light and fun enough for one more play through, but the player will probably see most of what the game has to offer by doing so-7
Suikoden V was a fun title and worth a play. It was a very tradition RPG with a story line that felt a tad bit cliché, but has enough sheer enjoyment to warrant another play through. If you are a RPG fan give this game a whirl, if not the game is certainly light enough to warrant a play trough. 7.5
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Suikoden V (US, 03/21/06)
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