Review by Hiarashi
"A great sequel to the series."
Like Suikoden, Suikoden II was overlooked by most RPG gamers. Usually, most overlooked games end up being some of the best RPGs. Suikoden II is a perfect example.
Storyline: The story takes place 3 years after the first Suikoden. Two countries, City-State of Jowston (or something like that) and Highland are at war with each other, always disputing about their borders. However, both countries have approved of a peace treaty. Once again, you are control of a young boy who is the son of a famous hero (this hero being Genkaku). Apparently, you have decided to join a Highland youth brigade with your best friend, Jowy. During the final night of your service (due to the peace treaty), something terrible happens. Your brigade has been slaughtered by “City-State soldiers”! An unpredictable plot twist? Not really. You are then betrayed by your own country, accused of being a spy for the enemy. Being screwed by your own country and realizing the true evil the insane prince of Highland, Luca, you decide to attempt to gain peace in the land once again. This game sounds A LOT like Suikoden, if you ask me. Most of the storyline can be seen a mile away for most RPG fans, but for some reason, that doesn’t bug me at all. I guess it’s because of the character development that makes me enjoy the storyline and the fact that some of your allies are people from the original Suikoden! Also, the presentation of the story is done extremely well. A huge improvement from the last game! I would’ve probably gave it a 9.5 but the poor translation at some parts just annoys me to no end. And then there are the typos. There’s even some text that hasn’t been translated! So that takes some points off. (Rating: 9.0)
Characters: Some characters can still be identified with two to three words. At least Konami has tried to improve it a bit but the fact still remains that only a handful of characters get development. However, a lot more characters are involved compared to the first game. I also love the fact that 10+ characters from the original Suikoden appear in this game. If you have played the previous Suikoden (in which I recommend you do because it’s a great game), you will probably enjoy Suikoden II more since you’ll be seeing old faces from the first one. Then there’s the relationship between the main character, Jowy, and your sister, Nanami. I know the old “childhood friends” routine has been done plenty of times in an RPG but Konami does it RIGHT. I can’t really explain it, more emotion is showed I guess? So basically the lowdown is Konami still needs some work with character development with all the characters but they are forgiven with the appearances of old characters of Suikoden and the character development of the main characters. Also, if you load up the data from Suikoden, you can get several new things, including a sub-quest that will allow you to get a secret character from Suikoden. (Rating: 10)
Gameplay: Most of the gameplay from Suikoden hasn’t changed at all in Suikoden II. The battle systems have been tweaked and improved. I won’t go much into detail about the battle systems since I did enough of that in my Suikoden review. There are still 3 different types of battle systems.
The regular battle system is practically the same as Suikoden’s. The only thing different is instead of only having the ability to equip one rune, you can equip three. More variety, more fun.
The one-on-one duel battle system hasn’t changed one bit, but that’s not a bad thing.
The only battle system that has changed majorly is the major battle system. Instead of a rock-paper-scissors match up, we get an FFT-style setup. Certain characters are in control of a unit, which contains 2-3 characters. There are different types of units (it varies on who’s commanding the unit). If the character specializes in magic, his unit will be a magic one, which can attack other units from afar. Archers control archer units, which is just like magic units but less effective. Finally, there are the ground and cavalry units. Calvary units are just like the ground units, except they are stronger. These units must be next to the enemy’s units to attack.
Anyways, about the setup. If you have played Final Fantasy Tactics or any type of tactical strategy game, this is pretty much what the Suikoden II major battle system is. Your units are placed on a map. Movement is based on squares like a chessboard. Certain units have certain amount of movement range. The battle system has improved greatly from the last one. It at least takes some thought for you to win a battle, unlike complete luck in Suikoden.
The good battle systems stay and the crappy one gets a complete makeover. Just what I wanted.
There are some things that annoy me still though. I forgot to mention the fact that you cannot run diagonally, just the basic four directions. It kind of annoys me since it makes no sense why they couldn’t add it. Another thing I failed to add in my last review was leveling up. If you ever felt like changing characters but were afraid that it would take forever to level them up, don’t worry because Suikoden erases that fear. You can level up low-level characters to your level range in a matter of minutes if you’re fighting enemies that you would be typically fighting in your level. I love this feature. If I ever had to change characters for some reason, I don’t have to be worried that they will be crappy due to their low levels because they get into my party’s level range in a matter of 5-7 battles.
Getting all 108 characters takes more effort this time around. If you’re not too careful, you can miss one if you don’t see a specific event (hint, hint: Clive). Now some characters have more challenging requirements for them to join you. For example, you have to at least run away 50 times to get Stallion. Getting two other characters involves a sub-quest. More annoying but more challenging. Oh yes, your castle is much better this time around.
Graphics: Graphics have improved quite a bit from Suikoden. The backgrounds are more detailed, and things look more smoother. There are some CGs for spells, which is nifty. Still though, it still kinda looks like SNES graphics, but at least it’s nostalgic. (Rating: 8.0)
Audio: One thing I love about the Suikoden series is the music. Although Suikoden II’s music isn’t as stunning as the first one, it’s still a very good soundtrack. There are plenty of memorable songs in it. The music represents the events and situations very well. I just love the major battle music. With all the Latin singing accompanied by an orchestra, it actually makes you feel like the battle is a very important one (which they are)! All in all, I expected a great score like the first one and Konami delivered (even though it’s not as good as the first one). (Rating: 9.0)
I’m glad I got into the Suikoden series, Suikoden II has easily become one of my favorite RPGs of all time. Let’s see how Suikoden III will turn out...
Overall: 9.2 which rounds up to a 9.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/22/03, Updated 04/22/03
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