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T (Teen)



Q3 2004



- Finally, another RPG for the Xbox
- Stunningly beautiful graphics
- Involved storyline that weaves into the gameplay seamlessly
- Real-time battle system a most welcome relief from turn-based RPG fare



- Navigation system is extremely haywire and difficult to follow
- Side quests oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of the primary quest
- Fighting hit system could have used more refining



Review: Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic (XB)

Review: Elder Scrolls III - Morrowind (XB)

Review: Baldur's Gate - Dark Alliance (XB)



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Score: 8.8 / 10


sudeki review         sudeki review


While the Xbox library can hold its own with the PS2 and GameCube in just about every single gaming genre (excluding multiplatform console titles), the one category it definitely sits squarely in third place among the three is the role-playing game. The PS2 is clearly the RPG console leader, and the GameCube easily outdistances the Xbox too. The Xbox really only has two RPGs of note, Morrowind and Knights of the Old Republic. But both are great games, so what the Xbox RPG genre lacks in numbers it makes up for in quality. And that includes Sudeki, the newest Xbox RPG.

Developed as sort of the Xbox version of the PS2ís Final Fantasy series, Sudeki is a beautiful game with an engrossing storyline and engaging gameplay. Although it isnít fair to compare Sudeki to Final Fantasy, it certainly is a great game in its own right that will completely quench the RPG thirst of the Xbox RPG player.

Sudekiís story plays a yin-tang tune which gives Sudeki a Japanese RPG flavor, right down to the anime-inspired characters. Over the course of the game, youíll learn




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more and more about the split worlds of light and darkness that were once a single realm and the reasons that nefarious forces are attempting to conquer both. Traveling between the two worlds (one sunny and bright, one enveloped in shadowy night) is an enjoyable romp, with plenty of encounters with all types of creatures, good and evil. You play as four central young and brash characters


(sometimes one or two at a time; sometimes all four) out to do the tried-and-true storyline, saving the world.

Yes, the story has many conventional plot features youíll see in a usual RPG, but thereís enough fresh twists, likable characters, and solid action to keep you playing for hours on end. It should take about 20 hours to traverse through Sudeki from start to finish, which is a bit short for a RPG but a decent gameplay return on investment nonetheless.

Tal is an Illumina warrior, out to prove himself worthy to his general father; Princess Ailish, the magic-wielding Illumina heir to the throne with a rebellious streak; the anthropomorphic Buki, who fights with a quick feline prowess; and Elco, the scientist in training with a robotic left arm. Your quest has you searching for crystals that are the key to stopping (or is it initiating?) the evil plot afoot.

Each character has special abilities that only they can contribute to continuing the story. Buki can climb; Ailish can dispel the invisibility of hidden objects; Elco has a rocket backpack that allows him to fly; and Tal can push and pull objects. Itís easy to figure out who needs to be used to solve most of Sudekiís many puzzles. But the difficulty isnít encountered in the gameís puzzles. It is the long-lasting and supremely taxing battles that fill the game that present Sudekiís challenge.

Now, Iím not a big turn-based, hit-point structured RPG battle system fan. Fortunately, Sudeki incorporates a real-time fighting system (even while flipping through inventory), although there are the standard hit-point rules at work. Depending on the strength of your characterís ratings (covering skill, health, power, and essence) you will inflict more or less damage than another character. Each hit takes away a point total until the enemy is vanquished; Also present is a fighting game-style button-hitting system that creates combos which inflict more damage on enemies than standard attacks. The problem here is that hitting the right button sequence requires too much exact timing to pull off, and when you do it doesnít make much difference than if you invest in a few more standard single-button attacks.


sudeki review         sudeki review

You wonít fight just one enemy in a battle either. There are usually at least five enemies that must be defeated. Using your characters wisely will allow for victory while upgrading each characterís rating in every category by ďleveling upĒ (and for Tal thatís a necessity for the final battle in the game). Tal and Buki are stronger, faster fighters; Ailish is best with magic attacks; Elco is in-between using his technological-based equipment. Learning when to switch between characters during battles is key to being successful, especially early in the game when each characterís rating points are low. The more fights you have, the more experience points you earn, which in turn become rating points to increase your characters into a mighty-hard-to-beat team of warriors.

Sudeki presents a large world to carry out your quest and fight evil denizens that stand in your way. The game has a definite medieval flavor to its environs, as the world of Sudeki is an amalgam of futuristic technology, talking animal-like creatures populating the towns and cities, and old world feudal societal mores. This makes for a lot of dungeon exploring and adventuring through Tolkienesque settings.

Sudeki is a noticeably beautiful game. This is a colorfully gorgeous landscape, even in the dark world locales, and extremely sharp-looking rendered characters (including the monsters, which include immense spiders, wolves, skeletons, and evil out-of-control robots).

Lead characters in Sudeki are in the Lara Croft mold of big-breasted, little-waisted, skimpily clothed, hard-fighting divas. Buki likes dressing in butt-revealing thongs that I canít see as comfortable in the heat of battle. Blood spews plentiful in every fight, earning Sudeki its M-rating. Refreshingly, thatís the only element that may be offensive in the game: no cussing or gratuitous violence present here (expect loads of non-gratuitous violence however).

There are a lot of typical RPG elements in Sudeki. Youíve got to break tons of barrels, crates, and jars to uncover power ups and potions. Money and weapons are found in chests throughout the land, most in out-the-way places that you must discover to get the treasure. There are orbs that upgrade characterís ratings and other items that replenish health, magic spell points, and negate the magic and special abilities of many enemies. One RPG feature incorporated into the gameplay is the addition of side quests that pay off with a reward from the roster of in-game items Iíve just mentioned. But many of the side quests require you to travel long distances to gather the resources or items necessary to win the reward, and thereís much to do to complete the gameís main quest to worry too much about many of the side quests.

Most of your traveling will be just to get you to each major stage of the game mixed with a plethora of skirmishes. It can get a bit too familiar knowing that practically every area that you must open a door or gate to will start a battle and thereís too much running around Sudekiís landscape not really knowing where you're headed. Thatís courtesy of the horribly established navigation system that is nothing more than a mini-map in the corner of the screen that supposedly helps you know which direction to head next. But forget about it: this mini-map is totally useless. Sudeki takes just about 20 hours to complete, and expect to use about two of those hours roaming aimlessly lost due to the crummy navigation system.

Despite having a few rough edges, Sudeki is a very good game that will keep you playing (over and over). Thereís so much to see and the story plays out like a good movie that keeps you entranced to the final credits roll. With the release of Sudeki, that sorely lacking Xbox RPG field is expanding ever fuller, and it joins the high-quality ranks of high esteem placed previously upon Morrowind and Knights of the Old Republic. With the highly-anticipated Jade Empire and Fable well on their way to being release within the next few months, Sudeki is leading the charge of the Xbox RPG renaissance.

- Lee Cieniawa

(August 25, 2004)


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