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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Turn-Based RPG

 

Publisher

Konami

 

Developer

Konami TYO

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2005

 

 

- Good story

- Nice soundtrack

- Solid voice acting

- Some memorable characters

- Naval Battles are cool

- Fun mini-games

 

 

- Graphics are a mixed bag of good and bad

- Story is good but not as strong as predecessors

- Battle system is weaker than predecessors

 

 

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Suikoden IV

Score: 8.2 / 10

 

I canít believe itís been almost ten years since the release of the first Suikoden game. This series is usually overlooked by most fans because of big hit RPGs like the Final Fantasy series. Although I found the Suikoden series to be great, I donít know if I can say the same about the latest installment, Suikoden IV. Sure they still have the 108 stars of destiny with some fantastic storytelling, but there just wasnít enough effort this time around.

 

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Suikoden III introduced the trinity sight system which made the player approach three different storylines using three different main characters throughout the game. This wasnít included in Suikoden IV and gone is any dialogue from the main character with the exceptions of some choices you pick when the opportunity arrives every now and then. I simply call him Hero IV and I personally hate how Konami went back to this because I really enjoyed the character development of the main characters in Suikoden III. Speaking of story, the overall storyline isnít as strong as the previous titles but itís still good and it really does feel like it takes place before the events of the first Suikoden. 

 

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There are twenty-seven true runes. The one focused in this game is the Rune of Punishment. When the Rune of Punishment is used, it drains some life out of its user. The main character (Hero IV) is a young knight of Gaien and is part of the marine forces. One fateful day he runs into a pirate that bears the Rune of Punishment. Through a series of events, Hero IV ends up with the Rune of Punishment. The story eventually leads to his exile for Gaien and continues from there.

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Before the game came out I was really excited about the battle system. The enemies looked far better than the designs in Suikoden III. This alone made everything more interesting. What I also liked was that the paired up buddy system from Suikoden III was gone. Suikoden IIIís battle system was easily the biggest complaint from hardcore fans of the series, myself included. What I quickly learned while playing the game is that trailers can be a bit deceiving. Konami showed off some of the team up combos and they looked very nice. They still do in the actual game but unfortunately the battles themselves have gone downhill. The game is too easy. Itís a piece of cake except for a couple of bosses. Itís kind of weird because even though battling isnít as good as the previous installments, it does have some positive points in there as well. I really like how attacking is fast paced. For instance; say you pick just a normal attack with all characters in your party, sometimes more than one of your party members will zip up to his opponent (at a very high speed), attack, and zip back to his original spot at top speed. This is a welcome change but what really kills it is that there are now more frequent random enemy encounters so that kind of cancels out the new fast paced combat. One on one duels look far more impressive. Instead of just a single attack, back and forth characters will deflect, parry and counter each others moves for more of a cinematic experience. Duels still work the same way. Your AI opponent will give a little speech that hints on what kind of attack he will use next. A duel consists of attack, guard and special technique. Overall, I have to say I was disappointed in the battle system but that may seem a bit harsh. I still had lots of fun with it and Iím sure Konami will fix it up in the next game. Suikoden games have always been known to have wars somewhere. Itís kind of like a very entertaining mini game that works like rock, paper, scissors. Suikoden IVís wars take place in ships. Thatís right baby, naval battles, and best of all, they rock. Itís too bad other RPGs like Skies of Arcadia didnít think of something similar for their ship battles.

 

Suikoden IV still has some form of lottery. Suikoden III had cards but Suikoden IV not only has cards, but dice, coin games and a spin top game.  Itís all luck of course but like in real life I suck when it comes to gambling money (I only win bets in fighting games). The inclusion of these time wasters is a lot of fun and certainly adds to the value of the game itself. Bath house scenes make a return for some fun sequences and thereís an all new confessional where one of the 108 stars of destiny will come in and make a confession but they donít realize that their leader Hero IV is sitting on the other side of the confessor. Without realizing heís there, they sometimes say something about him which is quite funny. The one thing that I really do miss is the plays in the theatres. That was my favorite time waster in the third installment.  

 

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The visuals in the game are, well, the visuals are just weird. I like the character proportions a lot more than what Suikoden III had to offer but thereís a huge lack of animations. The majority of characters also look pretty basic as well though there are some designs I really like. It still gives that anime inspired look which will make fans happy. The backgrounds on land help create scenery but overall they look pretty plain as well. I never found any of the magic spells to be awe inspiring or as good as other recent turned-based RPGs out there. The water is most disappointing. For a game based heavily on water scenery you would think that the water would look really nice. The water animation is good but why the hell is it so damn blue? It looks very odd and heavily brings down the gameís visual appeal.

 

One thing I would like to announce is that the voice acting is pretty solid. I was worried that it would have some really crappy voice actors that we have in our dubbed animes. Donít get me wrong, there are still some bad voice actors in the game but the majority are pretty good. I do recognize some voices from certain anime characters, but they are the good or tolerable ones. The soundtrack is also better than Suikoden IIIís.

 

Is Suikoden IV a hit or miss? I would highly suggest fans of the series to buy it even though the battle system is a little weak. Casual RPG fans that havenít played any of the Suikoden games should give it a shot. If you arenít a hardcore Suikoden fan, I would definitely suggest a try before buy.

 

JíTonello

(March 20, 2005)

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