Thursday, July 20, 2000

Suikoden III | 9.5

The Suikoden RPG series has always been about people who get caught up in events far beyond their control, and how they rise up to that challenge. Hallmarks of the Suikoden games are the necessity of gathering 108 allies (based on an old Chinese legend) and building a castle headquarters where your main base (and source of mini-games) will be.
Suikoden 3 is different from past games since it gives you the option of choosing from one of 3 initial heroes to play as. These include a female knight, a tribal youth and a mercenary, each of whom represents a different side of a dangerous, escalating war.
To actually finish the game, you WILL have to play all the 3 chapters of each character; this is no problem however since each character's story is compelling and always intriguing. The great thing about this system, or Trinity Sight, is that you see the story from various viewpoints, so the depth and secrets that are revealed are really rewarding as you play through the game.
And that is what Suikoden 3 is all about. Do not look for flashy CG and cinematics, since there are none (except for a magnificent anime movie 'trailer' of the game at the start screen), but that really shouldn't matter. It's the game's story and the characters you will grow attached to that will captivate you.
Graphics are mixed; the art style is wonderful Japanese anime fantasy style, though the 3D in-game models are slightly cartoony in proportion but not too cutesy- the best part is that they express emotion better than any other game out there; this makes for entertaining cut scenes. The environments are detailed and wonderful.
As for gameplay, this is still a turn-based combat system, with the requisite 'army' and one-on-one duels present. Overall though, the gameplay is easy, control is excellent and loading times are only a few seconds in length. No detraction from the fun.
Finally, as for replay, there are hidden characters to play as, multiple endings, 108 allies to recruit, a castle with tons of fun stuff to do and the option to load save games from past Suikodens to unlock more secrets.
In terms of story, replay, depth and compelling characters, Suikoden 3 is unquestionably the best RPG out there now. Fans of Suikoden MUST get this game, but I heartily recommend it to everyone who loves RPGs or at least a deep, involving story.
What are you waiting for? Get this game NOW!

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