Review by LordShibas
"The downward spiral continues"
Well well, what do we have here? It seems Konami is hell bent on driving one of my favorite RPG series so far into the ground that it may never recover. Now I gave Konami the benefit of the doubt with Suikoden III, and considered it a minor slip up on their part, but there is simply no excuse for Suikoden IV. My trepidation for Konami is now at an all time high.
Konami has totally trashed the compulsive world of the Suikoden series, and replaced it with failed attempts at cashing in on the Suikoden name. It seems like Konami just makes up 108 Stars of Destiny, throws them into a trite, generic RPG, and brands it as a Suikoden game. I would consider cutting Konami some slack if they had made some improvements on Suikoden III, but all of the changes in Suikoden IV are for the worse, and it really shows that a lack of effort went into this game.
Okay, sorry about that. Now let's see what went wrong with this game. Seriously.
Suikoden IV follows the basic formula for a Suikoden game. Your young, nameless adventurer is searching for the 108 Stars of Destiny as usual, and his adventure takes him to the high seas this time. The high seas are home to the Island Nation of Gaien. The main character is training at the naval academy to become a soldier in their army. He is accompanied by a few of his close friends, named Tal, Jewel, Paula, and Keneth. As their graduation ceremony approaches, danger lurks on the horizon, and it's up to the main character to find the secrets behind the Rune of Punishment, and save the world.
Okay wait. Before I get into anything else, I'm going to talk about the best part of the game: the anime into. The opening intro for Suikoden IV is actually really cool, and it kind of falsely got my hopes up for a short while. The music during the intro is called La Mer, and it flows perfectly into the sea faring adventure that lies before you. It shows exciting anime footage of ship battles, sword fights, and everything else you could want from a Suikoden game at sea. At this point, I should have turned the game off, and moved on to my next game, but curiosity got the best of me, and I pressed on.
Once you start the actual game, you find your character on a ship with his fellow friends. The very first thing Suikoden IV does is throw you into one of its horrible ship battles. You get a quick little tutorial from your friend Snowe about the ship battles, and off you go. The ship battles in Suikoden IV are awful, I'm not going to bother sugar coating it. You pick your crew for a few desired effects, and then it's a strategic, turn based battle that goes until one side no longer has any troops left on their ships. The problems with the ship battles begin when you realize that they are painfully slow and boring. Select your command, target your foe, watch the attack roll out, and repeat. You can fire magic attacks with characters that have runes equipped, but this creates another problem. Since Rune vs. Rune attacks cancel each other out, you can sometimes sit there in a stalemate with the enemy for turns and turns as your attacks cancel each other out over and over again.
If anyone ever complains about the airship battles in Skies of Arcadia again, I'm going to buy them a copy of Suikoden IV and make them play it.
While we're on the subject of the ship, I'll talk about the overworld map, which is a giant ocean. Think of Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker, and you have some idea. Just like in Wind Waker, the sailing is horribly slow and makes you wish that they had just used a normal template for the otherwise generic game. Seriously, if everything else in the game is going to be contrived, why not steal a world map from one of the past Suikoden games, I won't mind, I promise. It can't be any worse than this.
Looking past the ship battles and goofy overworld map, there are other aspects of Suikoden IV that can redeem it right? That's right, there's always the entertaining and concise regular battles in the Suikoden games that are loads of fun right? Wrong. Konami managed to mess up the regular battles in Suikoden IV as well.
Suikoden IV now restricts your party to only four characters. You no longer have the usual six. This means that even more of your usual 108 Stars of Destiny will fade into obscurity. It's not a huge deal I guess, but it kind of irked me. The larger problem with the battle system lies with the new, slow pace of the fights. If you thought the fights in Suikoden III were slow, think again.
The battles might not even be so bad if you had something nice to look at while you were fighting, but Konami has somehow managed to construct one of the most bland and boring looking worlds imaginable, and filled it with generic, basic looking characters that you can barely tell apart. I'm not lying one bit when I say that Suikoden III looks far better than this game does. Suikoden III at least had some detail on the character models, but Suikoden IV has next to none. It looks like it could have been made on one of those RPG Maker games.
Suikoden IV is just dead on arrival on so many accounts, and having the Suikoden name on the package can't even save this game.
Believe it or not, the most compelling feature of Suikoden IV is the music and voice acting. While the music tracks may loop quite a bit, some of them are catchy and go along with the game nicely. The voice acting is not really overdone, and is passable if nothing else. I really didn't mind the voice acting.
My experiences with the Suikoden series have not been very pleasant so far on the PS2, and Suikoden IV marks a new low for the series. It really forces fans to tolerate a lot of poor gameplay and design decisions. I will once again say that it really pains me to score a Suikoden game so low, because I have such an undying love for the first two games, but Konami needs to upright this ship, or the Suikoden series is going to become the laughing stock of the PS2 generation of RPGs.
I really can't recommend this game to Suikoden fans, I can't recommend it to RPG fans and I can't recommend it to people who like good games. However you slice it, Suikoden IV is just not a good game, period. There are times in my gaming life when I consider games to be a lost cause because they simply don't have enough redeeming qualities, and this is one of those times. If this is the quality of the Suikoden games we are going to get for the PS2, I suggest that Konami ceases making them immediately, and save themselves the embarrassment. Then we can all be happy and live on with our wonderful memories of Suikoden 1 and 2.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/08/10
Game Release: Suikoden IV (US, 01/11/05)
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