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Developer:
Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: PS2
Release Date: March 21, 2006

by Josh Ferguson




In March 2006, Konami released Suikoden V, the newest installment in their popular RPG series. For the most part, the series has always been strong, but it was obvious that it was at its lowest point with the release of the series' fourth installment. So will Suikoden V bring the glory back to the series?


The storyline of the game takes place in the Queendom of Falena and follows the adventure of the land's Prince. When the Sacred Games are reestablished to find a future husband for the Princess of Falena, individuals from all over show up to participate. For the most part, the Sacred Games go smoothly, that is until the winner and his forces storm the castle and murder Arshtat, the Queen of Falena, and Ferid, the Queen’s husband and commander of the Queen’s Knights. Along with his aunt, bodyguard, and Georg, one of the Queen's most trusted knights, the Prince escapes the castle and runs to a neighboring country. With Falena now under enemy control, the Prince must secure allies and rescue his sister and save his beloved country.


While the story in Suikoden V is rather enjoyable, it will take several hours to really get into it. In fact, the storyline that I gave above will probably take more than six hours to really begin, but once it does the game can be quite difficult to put down. For the most part, much of the beginning of the game will focus on doing little errands for the Queen and Ferid. This will continue for several hours, and in the early going can be quite bothersome considering the size of many of the towns and the fact that you probably won’t know exactly which directions to travel. Still, unlike many games, much of this time doesn’t feel like unnecessary wandering because the game will constantly work on developing different characters that will affect the storyline later on throughout the game.


Similar to many RPGs, Suikoden V features a large amount of random battles and a turn-based combat system. The game allows up to six different characters to take place in a battle against a number of other enemies. Throughout the game you will also be able to move your characters into different combat formations. There are over twenty of these formations, each of which enables your characters to receive certain combat bonuses, including one where your party will regain health every turn and others that allow for actual stat bonuses. Throughout the game there are also those characters that will be able to pull off a co-op attack. These attacks can not be used by everyone, and normally can only be pulled off by those characters that have some sort of close relationship. There are a number of characters that are able to pull off these attacks, including the Prince and his bodyguard Lyon, the Prince and his aunt, Sialeeds, and a young girl and her father.


Aside from the normal turn-based combat, Suikoden V also uses duels and other army battles. Duels are pretty simple, and consist of a normal attack, special attack, and the option of blocking an incoming attack. A duel works by listening to what the enemy is saying and then predicting what sort of attack he will use by his attitude. If the enemy sounds cocky, chances are he will go for a special attack, if he sounds worried, chances are he’ll guard, and if he sounds somewhere in between, he will more than likely use a normal attack. Even though duels aren’t used too often throughout the game, they are an interesting idea to add a little variety to the game's combat system.


As for army battles, these sometimes take place both on land and sea. These battles consist of a few different character types, each of which has their own weaknesses and their own strengths. The idea of these battles is simple, defeat the enemy forces using their own weaknesses against them. Like I said earlier, throughout the game the Prince will be traveling around trying to recruit different allies to help him in regaining his home. This area of the game is where some of the recruiting will be noticeably helpful. In order to expand the armies that you will have during these battles, it will be necessary to recruit characters throughout the game. Similar to duels, these battles don’t take place too often, but they are an interesting and fun way to mix up the battle system.


Even though I have said this multiple times now, I’ll say it at least once more, the main purpose throughout Suikoden V is to go around and recruit as many characters as possible. Not only is this the main focus of the game, but it is also quite enjoyable. There is a large variety of characters that are able to be recruited and there are 108 of the characters known as the Stars of Destiny. Of course, obtaining the entire list of characters is going to take a little time, but doing so is one of the most enjoyable things in the game. It should also be noted that the game features several different endings.


With multiple endings and the wide cast of characters, more than likely you will want to spend a lot of time playing Suikoden V. Chances are you are going to be spending a lot of time with this game, not only because the game is, well, great, but because of the constant load times. Playing through the game you will constantly encounter load time after load time after load time. Luckily most of these load times don’t take too long, but the large amount of them can become a little annoying and can easily slow down the action of the game.


Graphically, Suikoden V is an overall good-looking game. The game's environments are large and look pretty nice, and each of the characters generally look well done. Normally the characters are detailed and look nice, though it is often difficult to notice with the view of the camera. While it is possible to get a close-up of the game, often you will be viewing it at a great distance, which doesn’t show the details and looks of the characters as well. The cutscenes throughout the game look good, and are shown fairly frequently throughout the game.


The sound in the game generally ranges from good to okay. For the most part, the voice acting tends to fit the character, and normally is well done. The tunes throughout the game are also well done, and some of them are taken from previous installments in the Suikoden series. Either way, chances are the soundtrack will not disappoint fans of the series.


Overall, Suikoden V is another installment that will make fans of the series jump for joy. So is the game worth its $39.99 price tag? Heck yeah, it is! If you’re looking for an RPG with a large cast of interesting characters and a fun and exciting story, then look no further than Suikoden V!


Final Grade: 82%




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