Review by Berserker_Blade
"Suikoden is beginning to get back on its feet"
For many, Suikoden 4 is considered the downfall of the series. The fans felt that Suikoden series had jumped the shark and just a mere shadow to once a great series. Konami is on the resilient side however. To make up for its loss, they decided to make a strategy RPG based on Suikoden 4. Many people are skeptical about it because of what Suikoden 4 did to the franchise. Suikoden Tactics is one the game that apologizes for their lackluster performance.
The graphics is very bland. The characters are not that detailed or appealing. Since it is cel-shading, the character models look a lot like the first generation of the PS2 games. They are somewhat blocky. Like most SRPGs, the towns are nothing more than a panoramic picture of the area. There are some recycled attack animations from Suikoden 4. The only thing good about the graphics is that it's colorful.
Although there are many nostalgic tunes, they recycled a lot of music and sounds from the previous games. Another thing is that the music tends to repeat over and over as you progress. What matters the most is that the music matches the atmosphere. The voice acting is also mediocre. The voices of the supporting characters matched very well. However there are some of the story voices such as Kyril, does not fit the characters nature. Overall, the music and the sounds aren't great; but not to a point that it is ear-spitting.
The setting of this game is set before and after the events of Suikoden 4. This story is about a group of travelers from the Scarlet-Moon Empire solving the mysteries of the Rune Cannons. But, little do they know that the power of the Rune cannons is much more potent than they thought. As the story unfolds, it's up to Kyril and his allies to prevent the Rune Cannons to expand further as well as destroying them. Although, the story is a bit corny, the overall plot isn't so bad.
The character development is solid. Kryil finds out more about his companions and himself as the game progresses. The majority of the returning characters come from Suikoden 4. Like the rest of the Suikoden games, expect that not every character will have screen-time on the main plot. However, there are many characters interacting with each other by the campfire scenes. It's not so bad since there are a lot of characters joining your party later on. The only drawback is that some of the minor characters are just there. They don't have any other reasons to join other than "let's fight together". Other than that, the plot and the character development is very solid throughout.
Since this is a Tactical RPG, expect the game pacing of the game like chess. However, the pacing in Suikoden Tactics is much quicker than most strategy RPGs. When it is the player's turn, the attack and move range is already laid out for you. If your attacks are out of the enemies range, the command will immediately go to "end turn". It's really a big time saver for those who want to end the battle quickly. The basic game mechanics is a lot like your typical Suikoden with the concepts of the elemental grid. The elemental grid can determine your condition. If you are on the opposing element, you are more likely to be vulnerable to attacks and magic.
There's no job system. However, there are a plethora of characters to use, each with distinct traits. You can even mount animals during battle. This makes up for the lack of the job system. One of the main drawbacks is that there is a lack of versatility. In other words, all warrior types are stuck with the technical runes and mages are stuck with magical runes. You cannot have both technical and magical runes altogether. As always, there are sidequests. There are some that is like the propositions in Final Fantasy Tactics. There is a lot of variety in battle. The objectives aren't always defeating all enemies or a certain person. The designs of the stages are very interesting. However, there are not a lot of areas to battle.
The overall difficulty is fairly challenging. While story characters withdraw from battle, the rest can die permanently if their life goes to zero. It's very difficult especially if you're trying to build up the weaker characters. Another notable feature is that if you defeat a certain enemy, more will pop out. The character recruitment is a definite medium difficulty. Most of characters are recruited within the main plot. However, there are some characters that can be easily missed. Overall, the game mechanics is quite solid. However, the difficulty can easily overwhelm the player. Suikoden Tactics is a short game. It's about 20-30 hours on the first playthrough. There are plenty of side-quests. Also, you can try to get all the characters in the game. However, Suikoden Tactics is much more linear than your traditional Suikoden games. There are not a lot of significant achievements other than your personal satisfaction.
Suikoden Tactics is worth your time. There are a lot of things that can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Also, the game isn't that expensive or scarce. Many Suikoden fans automatically assume that the game is another lackluster title due to the fact that it is related to Suikoden 4. Unfortunately, it's one of the overlooked Suikoden games compared to Suikoden 2 and 5. Despite of that, please give this game a chance. It definitely compliments the story of Suikoden 4.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/23/07, Updated 02/22/07
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