Sunday, October 15, 2000

Suikoden V review | 9.5

If you're an RPGer, and you're a serious one, Suikoden V should be one of the RPGs on your list this year. It's fun, long, and showers a lot of replay value. The game just all around shines, and it's easy to see why. Suikoden IV was nothing special, but if you lost faith in the series after it, allow Suikoden V to restore that faith.

In the Queendom (yes, Queendom) of Falena, villagers are beginning to question Queen Arshtat's motives. Her form of justice was torching a village and it's countryside. As the Prince of Falena, you're sent in to investigate the matters for yourself. It soon becomes easy to turn your back on the Queen. There's a reason for her mor wicked actions, and after a while you're not going to be used anymore. You're going to investigate. The story begins kind of slowly, putting you to the task of running errands for most of the beginning, but once you get past that, the game really takes off.

For what it's worth, Suikoden V has a great story, and a brilliant cast of characters. Throughout the game it's great to watch your characters grow, including the Prince. There are tons of characters who you can get to join your cause, and all of them are very well developed. There are 108 characters in all. In most RPGs with an unrealistically large number of characters, the character development is terrible. This isn't true in Suikoden V. Each character is distinctly their own. The array of characters that join you is also interesting. You'll have just normal civillians. Chef's, detectives, ordinary peasants who are willing to fight for your cause. The way at which you obtain them is also interesting. Some will join based on what you say, others will join you depending on who is currently among your ranks. Some won't join you until you've got A LOT of people. This also works out to manipulate the ending of the game itself, as well as certain story sequences. The bulk of Suikoden V is actually getting all these characters, and it is perhaps the strongest part of the game.

The battle system is pretty cool too. You'll have six characters in battle at a time. You can set up your characters in battle in a way that you earn certain bonuses. There are formations that allow you to up your attack power, magical power and plenty more. It's awesome to tinker around with, and makes battling more interesting. The only thing that bogs down battling is the load times before it, which over time become pretty annoying.

Alongside the normal, everyday battle... you'll be able to duel as the story moves on. The duels aren't especially challenging. They way they're done is similar to Pokemon in a way. You can attack, use a special attack or defend. It's like Rock, Paper, Scissors. Everything has the potential to lose. For example, you can't defend against a special attack but you can use a regular attack to offset it. Those you're dueling will usually call out what they're going to do, and you'll have somewhere around three or four seconds to decide how to offset it. Dueling isn't especially hard, but it has its moments.

There are also army battles on land and sea, and to be honest, they're no different than the duels. You'll have to move closer to the enemy, but they pretty much play out in the same way. However, this is where the bulk of your 108 characters come into play. They are, essentially, your army.

Graphically, Suikoden V is good. Good, not especially great. Most characters are pretty detailed and the enviroments are colorful. The PS2 is capable of better, but in all honesty, Suikoden V is NOT by any means a bad looking game. It's a good looking game, just not as good looking as others that have set the bar. Soundwise, the game sounds great. Mixing classic music from the series with other tunes. The new tunes are used perfectly when setting the mood of certain scenes.

Suikoden V is full of good voice acting. It isn't always perfect, but it works out just right. Some characters sound perfect, others you're scratching your head and wondering what the deal is. You won't find yourself questioning the voices too often, though. Most of the voice acting is good, and the voices that matter you'll be proud of.

Suikoden V is a gem. It's got lots of replayability, and tons of well developed characters. It's one of the most exciting RPGs of the year, and any RPGer would be proud to have it.

The Good
+Great storyline
+Tons of characters
+Well developed charactes
+Fun battle system
+Overall good voice acting
+Good graphics
+Great soundtrack

The Bad
-The load times for battles
-Duels and army battles aren't really all that difficult

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