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Suikoden (PlayStation) artwork

Suikoden (PlayStation) review


"In the world of console gaming, there's different kinds of role playing games. There's your small, close-knit casts seen in Final Fantasy games. There's the extended cast, seen in games such as Star Ocean 2. There's the large cast, seen in Chrono Cross, which features over twenty characters. And then there are the Suikoden games. "



In the world of console gaming, there's different kinds of role playing games. There's your small, close-knit casts seen in Final Fantasy games. There's the extended cast, seen in games such as Star Ocean 2. There's the large cast, seen in Chrono Cross, which features over twenty characters.

And then there are the Suikoden games.

If leveling up and recruiting different characters is your sort of thing, then the Suikoden series is for you. Featuring over 108 different characters to find, Suikoden is especially heavy on replay value and customization. However, it does sacrifice a lot of character development and story interaction to do so.

In Suikoden, you play the role of a hero that you name. You gotta be a dude; everyone knows that girls can't save the world. You're the son of a famous general for the Scarlet Moon Empire. However, you turn against the empire and join the Liberation Army after seeing the savage cruelities committed in their name. You soon become the leader of the Liberation Army, and it's your job to turn this slipshot group into a lean mean fighting machine by recruiting and training other heroes.

All of this sounds well and good. But once you get three or four hours into the game, most of the character development stops, excluding the four or five main characters. Sure, there's over one hundred characters in the game, but since it's not a give-in that you'll recruit all of them, no dialouge is written for most of them. You'll get hints of internal conflict and thoughts, but for the most part, the characters are blank slabs with one or two lines written on them.

Likewise, the storyline is cliched to the point of ridicule. Son of a general rebelling against the empire he fights for? Ever heard of a little movie called ''Star Wars''? Or a whole slew of cheap novels? It's not a new idea, even for console role playing game standards. I understand that the main story is taken from an ancient Chinese story about the 108 stars of destiny, however, the whole thing comes across as trite and conceived.

Brushing aside all the issues with the storyline and characters, everything else about Suikoden is perfect, especially the gameplay. The battle system of Suikoden manages to do all the little things right, while offering valuable side options not seen in many current games.

The combat is a mix of the old and new school of role playing. You have a large party, six characters in all to control. The standard options are present - fight, run, or use magic or special abilites (known as runes). In addition to this, there's an autofight (a godsend when leveling up) and a unite attack option.

The unite combos add a whole new wrinkle to combat in Suikoden. Certain characters can group together to perform a more powerful (sometimes) attack. For example, the two buddies Victor and Flik can combine for a slash attack, as can the five blacksmiths in the game. Some unlikely characters can also combine to make unity attacks. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Are all these extra ways to fight really necessary? Well, no, not really. Suikoden is a not a difficult game at all. If you're experienced with role playing games, you can easily blow through Suikoden in less than twenty hours. You won't find all the characters, but the ones you automatically receive (around twenty to forty, assuming you don't recruit at all) are more than fit for the job.

However, if you just blast through the game, you neglect the game's many extra facets that make it a great game. Training characters is one of the game's joys, as you can see what new types of equipment they receive. The programmers also had incredible foresight; if you manage to find all the characters in the game, you can use the Suikoden 1 saved game file in Suikoden 2 to recover a few characters. It's a little thing, but it's one of those cool nifty things that I wish more game programmers thought of.

Graphically, Suikoden is based almost entirely on 2-D models. It's an early generation Playstation game, however, the graphics are still better than some later 3-D games released. It wipes the floor with other games released around the same time, such as Beyond the Beyond.

Musically, Suikoden has some nice tracks. However, for the most part, the music doesn't play a large role in the game. It's faint, and predictibly cliched. What little sound effects the game has are outstanding. They are few and far between, though.

Overall, Suikoden is one of the better role playing games available for the Playstation. The low difficulty rate and lack of character development hurt the score a bit. Perhaps the best gameplay outside of Suikoden 2 and Final Fantasy Tactics drives the score back up, to near perfection. Suikoden can be found dirt cheap, brand new, so pick up a copy today.

Rating: 9/10

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Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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