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Developer:
Climax
Publisher: Microsoft
Platform: XBox
Release Date: July 20, 2004

by Jason Ferguson




Without too many big RPGs on the Xbox, Sudeki was among the systemís most highly anticipated games. It boasted that it would push the limits of what an RPG can be, with bigger worlds, more powerful heroes, and sexier heroines-all wrapped up in Hong Kong-style cinematic combat. So how did it all turn out? Read on!


Sudeki takes place in a world torn apart by deceit. Long ago two gods, the light god, Tetsu, and the dark God, Heigou, ruled the world of Sudeki side by side. But Heigou grew greedy, and sought to claim the world as his own! Tetsu sought out the help of four heroes, and together they defeated the dark god. But before his defeat Heigou split the world of Sudeki in two. Legends said that Heigou would someday rise again, and the four heroes would be called upon by Tetsu a second time to defeat him.


If you havenít guessed yet, the four playable characters in Sudeki are the four heroes that must step forward and defeat the dark god. You figure this out pretty early in the game, and itís rather predictable anyway, so Iím not spoiling anything. Thereís more to the story than simply running after Heigou to defeat him, though. You start out in the Kingdom of Illumina, where the Aklorians have begun an invasion. You start out simply trying to defend Illumina from the attackers, and seek out to collect crystals in order to create a protective shield around the Kingdom, but naturally your adventures will take you much further than anticipated! The story is interesting enough, but itís pretty predictable. There are also plenty of points that werenít explained particularly well, and times where youíll be stuck guessing at whatís going on. Even the end of the game had no real explanationÖ you defeat the boss and the game ends! Overall, the basic premise was fun and compelling, but suffered from poor storytelling.


The first character youíll gain control of is Tal. Heís an elite soldier in the war-torn Kingdom of Illumina, where he serves underneath his father, General Arlo. He wields a sword, and has great strength. Next up is Ailish, who is a powerful sorceress. She also happens to be the Princess of Illumina. She carries magical staffs, and casts powerful magic spells. Buki is an exotic mix of human and animal who uses large claws during combat. Last up is Elco, a genius scientist. He uses guns and can take out enemies from a great distance. The characters are all pretty cool, and the game sets up some backstory for each. Unfortunately, they donít really build on the backstory once theyíve set it up. For example, Talís father is introduced as a main character early on in the game as Tal seeks to gain his approval. But after just a few hours into the game he literally disappears and is never heard from again. Still, the characters have distinct personalities that remain consistent throughout the game.


The game manages to create a great world, merging science fiction and fantasy. Itís not simply a Final Fantasy rip-off either. Instead it creates a totally unique world, complete with its own mythology and an interesting backstory. Gamers will find themselves immersed in the beautiful world created in Sudeki.


The story and characters are decent, but flawed. The battle system is where the game really shines! The game offers a unique, action packed battle system where you control a party of four characters and can switch which character you control on the fly. You can also edit the AI for those you arenít directly controlling. Elco and Ailish are ranged fighters that fight in a first person mode. Theyíll collect a variety of weapons with different strengths, ranges and firing rates. One weapon might be really strong, while another will have a much better firing rate. These two heroes can also switch weapons during battle. Buki and Tal are melee fighters and will fight enemies close up. They can perform a variety of combos, allowing them to beat on the enemy without giving them a chance to fight back. A meter appears in the lower left corner with three combo slots. Whenever the slots are highlighted you press a button. By timing all three combo slots correctly youíll perform a combo. What type of combo depends on what combination of ĎAí and ĎXí you press. Each character can also perform a clear attack by pressing ĎBí that doesnít do much damage, but knocks enemies back. The combo system is simple, yet effective and fun! You canít simply smash buttons because you have to time it all right, so it adds a little skill and timing to combat to keep it from being a simple hack and slash game. The ranged attack mode offers a different type of experience, adding some variety to the gameplay. You can open up a quick menu during combat to use items and skills. Although, the quick menu doesnít completely pause combat... it just puts things into super slow motion. Make sure not to stay in this mode too long or enemies will just kill you. To make things easier, thereís a very handy quickshot option that allows you to set items to specific directions on the directional pad. You can set items to the up, down, left and right buttons allowing you to use them quickly without having to scroll through menus. Combat ends up being lots of fun, with fast paced action, lots of variety, good controls, hordes of enemies to fight, and a high level of challenge. Donít be surprised if you find yourself HOPING to get into battles in this game.


Each character has a variety of special abilities. Some abilities are used to solve the games many puzzles thrown in while youíre exploring. For example, Elco has a jet-pack that he can use to fly across gaps. Buki can use her claws to climb up walls. Ailish uses her magic to reveal hidden areas. Lastly, Tal uses his great strength to move heavy objects. Most of the puzzles are easy to solve, but they add even more variety to the gameplay. During combat each character has a variety of abilities. Each character have skill strikes that deplete their SP bar (basically, their magic). These skills can have a variety of effects, from healing to unleashing strong attacks. Characters also have Spirit Strikes, which deplete their SSP bar. The SSP bar is filled by killing enemies. These Spirit Strikes are very powerful, so donít be surprised if a single Spirit Strike completely clears the screen of enemies. Each character has two of these skills, a 100 costing Strike that tends to be a defensive skill and a 200 costing skill that delivers some offense.


There is a large variety of items to collect throughout your adventure. Although, youíll soon discover that most are just some sort of healing item. Every item seems to be the same thing, but heals a slightly different amount of HP or SP. There are also hordes of items to collect that have no real value other than trading for some cash. By the end of the game you shouldnít have any problems with money, so you should be able to purchase pretty much everything you want. Still, there are plenty of different weapons you can seek out on your adventures, as well as ultimate weapons for each character. The large variety of items causes some problems when youíre trying to scroll through your menus during combat, but the quickshot option helps out a lot.


Each weapon can be enchanted at a blacksmith to give it certain powers, from increasing the attack to causing it to drain HP from your foe. Each weapon has a different number of slots for enchantments, so itís a factor youíll have to face when choosing which weapon to use. Think of it like Final Fantasy VIIÖ the best weapon wasnít always the strongest one since the number of material slots was very important. There are also different sized enchantment slots on some weapons that will increase the effect of an enchantment. For example, most enchantment slots might give your weapon an attack increase of +5, but special slots will instead give it +10. Your armor stays constant throughout the game aside from certain points in the storyline where it gets upgraded. Armor can also be enchanted, giving you abilities such as regeneration or immunity to status effects. Through leveling up youíll gain AP, which you can use to teach your character new skills or to raise stats. Assigning an AP point to a skill will permanently teach the character that skill, whereas assigning it to a specific stat will raise that stat a certain amount. The ability to enchant and the assigning of AP allows for a fair amount of customization among your characters.


The character interactions prove to be among the gameís most disappointing aspects. When you begin talking to an NPC you often have a variety of choices for responses. Unfortunately, which choice you make never really matters. There is no branching of choices during conversation where the next branch of the conversation depends on the previous choice you made. Why even bother with giving players multiple choices in the conversation when the choices you make donít matter at all? It just makes me hungry for Fable.


Another aspect of the game that proved a massive disappointment was the fact that all the gameís boss fights were 1 vs. 1. Normally you have a party of 4 characters, so why change that for boss fights? It makes boss fights longer, more boring and more difficult than they really should be. It also makes it seem pointless to have 4 party members when you canít take advantage of their unique skills and abilities when in a fight. The combat in the game is great, but itís best when your whole party is fighting side by side. Even the final boss is a 1 vs. 1 fight!


The game offers a variety of environments that youíll travel through with a lot of detail, vibrant colors and some great design. The whole world is beautiful, from the skyline to Illumina Castle. Unfortunately, there isnít much interaction between you and this world. Occasionally youíll find a barrel to smash or a ladder to climb, but thatís pretty much it. The character models are excellent, also featuring nice design and a high level of detail. The spell effects are gorgeous, and the animation is fluid. So, combat isnít only fun, it also offers plenty of eye candy. Like any action/RPG, the camera can cause problems, but itís generally not a big issue. Overall, Sudeki's a beautiful game, with colorful environments, great effects, and nice character design.


The music score has a lot to offer, and youíll probably never grow tired of it. Thereís a good deal of variety, and itís quite fitting for the game and itís many different environments. There is also a good deal of voice acting, which is generally of good quality. Some of the voices donít sound quite right, but the vast majority of them are well done. The sounds and battle donít exactly stand out, but theyíre also of good quality.


Sudeki isnít a particularly long adventure, and can easily be conquered in 20 hours or less. Fans looking for a game to spend many hours with may be a bit disappointed. There are some mini-games and plenty of sidequests to keep you busy, but once youíve played through the game the only reason to go back would be if you really enjoyed it!


Although it maybe not quite as good as many hoped it would be, Sudeki offers a great battle system and a unique world. Itís a solid title, and a must have for XBox owning RPG fans. At the very least, it'll give you something to play while waiting for Fable and Knights of the Old Republic II.


Final Grade: 80%




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