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ups: beautiful graphics, great storyline, variety of action
downs: overabundance of in-game movies, navigation, some pixelation/slow movement

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Suikoden V Review
game: Suikoden V
four star
posted by: Amanda Bateman
publisher: Konami
developer: Konami
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ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 09:51 AM Mon Apr 10th, 2006
last revision: 09:48 AM Mon Apr 10th, 2006

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Click to read.The Suikoden series and I don\'t get along very well. Suikoden comes by and says \'Check me out! I\'m an awesome RPG.\' All the fans flock to it, but not me. I have never been impressed by a Suikoden title. So we tend to avoid each other.

But I\'m glad to say the hate has been changed to a neutral truce. Suikoden V is the first time in the series that I\'ve actually enjoyed the game. But no puffing out of the chest yet. Yes, the game has received many a rave review. It\'s almost perfect. The keyword is ALMOST. It\'s not quite perfect. It might just be me, or it might be the game. I\'ll let you decide.

First of all, Suikoden V takes place in the land of Sol-Falena, where not a kingdom but a QUEENdom rules the land with a mighty fist...as well as the Sun Rune. Females run things around here, so just imagine a traditional kingdom, but the queen and princess are calling the shots and are the most favored. The prince is nothing more than a social icon, sent all over the kingdom (with his female bodyguard) to interact with the people and to report on things back to the queen. He is treated more like a traditional kingdom would treat a princess. This is clear from the interaction in the family. Little Lymsleia, the princess, is scolded when she cannot handle the intensity of watching something like a gladiator battle, and her path to the future throne is not treated as a joke. However, the prince is showered with affection and trusted with simple duties by his parents, even being the eldest sibling. This is an interesting twist on stories like this, and I\'ve never experienced anything like it before.

That aside, the kingdom is under a lot of stress. Arshtat, the queen of Falena, is under the seduction of godlike power having the Sun Rune embedded in her body. The prince also has the concern of two not-so-admirable noble families to deal with. Both have their eyes on marrying into the family by winning the games at Stormfist. The gladiators from all over the area fight until the last left standing remains. It is then that the winning gladiator (or the gladiator\'s owner) will become Lym\'s future husband. The adventure begins after the games, and the prince becomes a key figure in determining whether or not all of these problems will be worked out and result in a happy ending.

In every Suikoden game, the player has the task of finding and enlisting the help of the Stars of Destiny. There are 108 of them, and it takes a lot of work to get them all to assist you on your quest. 108 is a big number, so you can be certain to spend a lot of time trying to get everyone to join up. Suikoden is an RPG you\'ll have to devote a lot of time to in order to complete it thoroughly. A simple playthrough can be rough, even if you\'re not trying for all the Stars of Destiny. Many Stars of Destiny fight in your party, while others give support, and some run shops or provide services.

Suikoden is also unique in that there are several ways to battle enemies. There is the traditional turn-based battle system where your active party takes to the field and battles random monsters and villains that randomly pop up. You can arrange and compile your team on the field to your liking. After that, you must do battle with weapons, items, or runes. Characters with an affinity can pull off special combos. Some of the first combos in the game have the Prince team up with either Sialeeds or Lyon to deal extra damage to an opponent, for example.

There are also special one-on-one duels as well as wars to fight. The one-on-one duel is like a strategic rock-paper-scissors fight, where you must react and take action based on the activity and dialogue of your opponent. Wars are more complicated; instead of one party to manage, you now have several teams. You\'ll have to keep everything together and plan out an effective attack to achieve the conditions for victory, or else it\'s game over. The random battles are nothing to worry about, and the one-on-one duels are great, but I\'ve never been a fan of the war system. It might take some repeated exposure if you find yourself struggling. I have never come to like it personally. Of course, rpg veterans already know the drill: save, save, save your game.

Suikoden V is a game abundant with movie scenes. Most of the beginning is a combination of just traveling and viewing scenes of the prince\'s travels across Falena. If you\'re a gamer who likes action, you\'ll have to be very patient with Suikoden V. It takes a while for the story to be set up and the real action to begin. If you do travel through an area where you can level up early on, chances are it\'s short or not very challenging at all. But if you are a patient gamer, the fun will come soon enough. There\'s a lot more action in the middle and end, you just have to wade through everything else. I am not saying the movie clips and interaction aren\'t fun, but it can be overwhelming at times. Suikoden, like other RPGs, also has its fair share of secrets, side quests, and mini-games that you can participate in. There are also several alternate endings to achieve.

The graphics in Suikoden V are great. With as many Stars of Destiny as there are, you want them to look good, and each character is just as interesting as the one before it. The landscapes and cities are beautifully rendered as well. The environments in Suikoden V might be a little cumbersome to navigate through for some people, however. It\'s easy to get confused or lost sometimes in towns. There are also instances where the sprites move slower than usual, or times when the game will pixelate when you navigate through a room. Sound is okay, but there are some BGM tracks that are extremely short and they repeat a lot. This gave me a headache when I had to listen to them in areas where I spent a lot of time. Luckily for me and similar gamers, there is an option to adjust the volume of the background music. The game is fully voiced and dubbed very well. You can even select the battle sounds for the prince that you prefer (one voice sounding younger than the other) or make him completely mute.

So, Suikoden V: should you get it? For Suikoden fans, they\'ll definitely want to pick this one up. But what if you\'re not? If you\'re patient or an appreciator of cinema scenes, like a good old-fashioned RPG, and have the time to devote, you should really give it a try. It is a redeeming moment in the series for me, so if Suikoden VI comes does into existence, I\'m going to look forward to giving it a try.

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