Sudeki (Xbox) review
"It's rare, that you find a good role playing game without the word "SquareEnix" written somewhere on the box. Sudeki is one of these. It doesn't take the role of a traditional RPG, but an Action RPG, however. It is the first role playing game to hit shelves, for the XBox game console that's actually worth looking, in my opinion. And by this, I mean to actually play, because although Climax has obviously thrown scantily clad girls, with large cleavage in, to attract certain male gamers, there is ..."
It's rare, that you find a good role playing game without the word "SquareEnix" written somewhere on the box. Sudeki is one of these. It doesn't take the role of a traditional RPG, but an Action RPG, however. It is the first role playing game to hit shelves, for the XBox game console that's actually worth looking, in my opinion. And by this, I mean to actually play, because although Climax has obviously thrown scantily clad girls, with large cleavage in, to attract certain male gamers, there is indeed a very strong RPG below the surface. However, it's not without its flaws; The story being my main complaint.
The game opens to a sing-song, rhyming tale, of the world of Sudeki. It tells of how a great and powerful God once ruled over the planet with his brother. Although ruling equally, and fairly at the start, eventually the darker brother's greed built up. He attempted to take hold of the entire world. However, four heroes emerged, and vanquished him, splitting the world in half, to a dark side, where he resides, and a light world, where peace would take hold for the next one-thousand years.
The actual gameplay starts just at the end of that millennium. Tal, a knight for the kingdom of Illumina, is sent on a mission to stop an invading force, which are becoming quite frequent, with a few of his men. Not giving out too much information, both guards will die, and something will happen to Tal that will change his life. A little farther, Tal will meet up with Princess Ailish. When he meets her, and escorts her back to the kingdom, the plot begins to thicken. Any further information on that would be a full spoiler, but I can tell you, that a little further, the two worlds will intertwine, and the plot will become even thicker. You may feel that this is an overused storyline, but this feeling will pass, once you realize how fun the rest of the game is.
The first thing you'll notice once you're in the game, going over basic training, with two fellow guards, is the selection of bright colors in the graphics around you. This part of the game looks great, however the entire game does not stick with this style. That is not to say that the other areas are bade. In fact, all the areas do great jobs to make the environment seem fitting. For example, at one point you're inside a temple. Cobwebs, dust, and dried out brown colors will surround you. You'll easily be able to picture the dry, hot rooms. On another location, you'll be surrounded by gothic colors, and impaled heads on spikes. Although these are dramatic changes, they do make sense.
Now battles are where graphics truly shine. As the blades clash, with great animations, you'll see the sparks form. When the blades strike skin, blood will splatter realistically. However, a perfectly nailed skill strike, that finishes an enemy, will result in an intense explosion of the enemy. Limbs will fly anywhere, and the blood will fly. This, is unrealistic in every way, but the bottom line is that it looks damn good. Less gory examples of the beautiful graphics and animations, can be found in simply rolling to avoid attacks, or unleashing that X-X-A combo, that shatters an opponent's guard. All-in-all, it just all come together, and looks great.
The sound fits right in, as well. During peaceful areas, it will be calm, quiet music. On the other side of the spectrum, when you enter battle, a much more aggressive, fast-paced music will take hold. Now I can't say that sound maters much to me, but I can say with confidence, that even if you are a person that it does matter too, you still won't be disappointed.
So the game has great graphics, and great sound. So what? Lot's of games do these days. That's true, but what makes this game special, is the battle system; Well, half of it. You see, two of the characters you can play as, attack using blades. Tal has a sword, and Buki has two claws. In the corner of the screen, is a bar filled with three circles. You can press the A and X buttons to fill a circle, and make the next flash. If you hit an attack just as the circle flashes, you'll do added damage. If not, you'll do regular damage, and the bar will reset. If you nail all three perfectly, you're third attack will do more than triple the normal damage. Taking it up another level, is the different combinations of attacks. For example, X-X-X, A-A-A, and X-X-A, will all do different finishing techniques. Furthermore, you can block with the R trigger, and roll, by adding a push of the control stick to that. This is an original, and fun system, and simply put, it works.
Of course, two separate attacks isn't many, even with the combinations. However, that's when the Skill Strikes come in play. SP can be compared to MP in most other games of the genre. That is, you can use them to unleash stronger skills. You can learn different skills as you level up, but from the start, each character has two skill strikes, each specific to the character. For example, Tal can uses Skill Strike techniques involving his sword, like an attack that creates an electrical blast, and Buki can do a tornado attack with her claw's blades. You can access these commands by pressing the Y button. The Y button will slow down all the action on the screen, such as enemies, and attacking going on around you, and allow you to select a skill, or an item to use. This adds a bit of a challenge, and sometimes causes you to ask yourself why the developers didn't decide to cause it to stop all the action completely. In the end however, it's all good; Especially since you can assign up to four items to the D-pad for quick use, anyway.
Finally, certain characters will gain the ability to summon at some point during the storyline - One being much earlier along. You can reach the summon menu with the Y button as well. When you select it, and if you have enough SSP (Summon Skill Points) you'll summon the creature, and it will take it's toll on the enemies in battle. For example, one creature will use a huge flaming sword, and another will unleash a blast of ice. These can make a huge difference in any battle, but remember, SSP is hard to accumulate, so save it for the emergencies, or you may quickly find yourself in a dire situation, and no good means of escape.
That's the good half of the battle system. The other half, isn't very enjoyable, sadly. You see Princess Ailish and Elco, the fourth playable character, are both armed with ranged weapons. Ailish has a staff that fires magic, and Elco has a gun that fires electrical blasts. Now to me, guns never really seem to fit into an RPG setting, but I was willing to overlook that. The problem lies in the fact that
when you play as them, the game becomes a first person shooter. The X button changes weapons, while the A button shoots, and the control stick aims; It's all there. What's worse, is that they even took out the combo system that made the other half of the system great!
They didn't go completely wrong with them though. On their defense, they still have the ability to use skills and items, and at least these were done properly. For example, Ailish has an attack that launches a large fireball. When you use it, Ailish temporarily goes into third person mode - Like she is at any time you are not near an enemy - and unleashes the attack. Except for when you need a nice strong magic attack, though, you'll likely be trying to play as Tal and Buki , due to the fact that they are simply more fun to play as.
Now for a little bit more about how these characters link together. Well, at any time where you have more than one party member in your team, you can press either the black button, or the white button to switch to another character. You'll be controlling one at a time, and the computer will control the remaining three on it's own, however you can have a say in how they'll go about this. Also in the Y button menu, is an A.I. tab. You can set each party member to either fight with it's priority to be on the offensive, and get lots of attacks in, set it to defensive, and have them focus on guarding, and evading attacks, or set them to just attempt to avoid fights altogether. The computer won't follow these orders strictly, however, the characters are going to do what they have to , to survive - which sadly, they won't do for long, in a tough battle, which will make things that much harder for you.
Besides the obvious battle strength and weaknesses, each character has their own abilities for when they are not in combat. You'll have to take advantage of each character's abilities, which are all very different. For example, Ailish can make invisible treasure chests appear, and make "fake walls" disappear. Buki can use her claws to climb up, down and across walls. Elco can use a rocket pack that he has, to hover across gaps, and Tal can push and pull heavy statues, boxes, or other objects. You'll be using each and every one of these skills on more than one occasion, throughout the course of the game - Often, in conjunction with each other.
Some other factors that people considering purchasing Sudeki might want to know about, include the challenge level of the game, and the replayability. Well, Sudeki definitely isn't the easiest RPG out there, and you'll probably die several times during your adventure, due to either being overpowered by a group of enemies, or just getting your ass kicked by a boss, as you attempt to learn the best strategy to defeat him. As for replayability, I'd say it ranks more-or-less equally with other role playing games on the market. If you're a person who'd consider playing a game like Kingdom Hearts multiple times, or you just love blasting through Final Fantasies, then you'll probably find that this will give you a similar experience. If you're only considering playing through it once though, you can expect to clock anywhere between 15 and 25 hours.
My final thoughts on the game, are that it's a great Action RPG, and one that was more than welcome on the XBox console, where a good RPG was desperately needed. It's definitely worth the fifty dollars needed to buy a new copy - at the time of this writing at least - and even more so if you buy it used. And to leave you on a good note again that I'd recommend that anyone reading this review check Sudeki out.
Community review by sayainprince (September 13, 2005)
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