Suikoden Tactics PS2 Review

Since Disgaea arrived on the scene, all subsequent strategy RPGS- apart from Nippon Ichi’s own- have felt lightweight in comparison to the Japanese companies strategy titles. The fact is that the developers titles are so immensely deep you’d almost think you could drown in their many elements. Suikoden Tactics is yet another contender that is akin to a small lake, compared to Nippon’s vast sea.

Suikoden Tactics takes place in the same universe as Suikoden IV and is set before and after the events of the fourth game, many familiar faces return from said game along with a slew of new warriors.

The main character is Kyril, who is on a mission to destroy magical cannons after his father was killed by one whilst investigating. The story is disappointing especially since the series usually has such a strong storyline, the voice-acting is also a bit hit-and-miss and the story just never seems as emotive or exciting as usual.

If you’ve been kind enough to pay attention thus far then you should already know that Suikoden Tactics is -rather than a traditional RPG- a strategy RPG, a genre where combat is the focus and other RPG conventions such as exploration are either lesser or have disappeared altogether.

The battle system largely follows the usual strategy game template, with attacks from the rear causing additional damage for example, whilst movement around the maps is governed by a grid. All elements from Suikoden’s traditional RPG heritage are intact too, so multiple characters can team up for flashy unite attacks and outside of battle, weapons can be sharpened and new members can be recruited.

Combat has evidently been tailored to suit the needs of perhaps the younger or less adept strategy gamer. Either way, the game is a perfect introduction to the genre and could even be enjoyed by those who usually find strategy RPGS to be a daunting task.

Although it doesn’t have anything remotely close to the creativity of your average Nippon Ichi game, it would however be churlish to say it doesn’t possess anything to call its own.

During battle, elements can be manipulated to turn the battle in your favour. Every character -be it friend or foe- is associated with one of five elements. Items and magic can both be utilized to alter the battlefield elements and any character standing up on squares of the same element will recover health every turn and are awarded a stat boost, whilst those standing on opposing coloured squares, will not only lose health, but will also see a decrease in their stats. Battles -particularly the later skirmishes- are often won or lost on how you go about controlling these elements.

Certain characters can chat with one another during battle and in doing so can learn a new unite attack. This unique goodwill system extends further than this, with buddies occasionally protecting each other from attacks and even jumping in to assist an attack. Victory in battle will earn you money to purchase new equipment and hone your weapons. You will also be rewarded skill points, with which you can learn a new or improve an existing move with.

It’s true that without the existence of Nippon Ichi’s titles, Suikoden Tactics would have been a far better game, but that’s just the nature of life. Suikoden fans are likely to enjoy it however and it should not be passed on by fans of the genre, although it has to be said that Nippon’s titles are still the wiser investment for the less green strategy RPG players amongst us. In the end though, Suikoden Tactics, is a small lake of a game in comparison to its peers, but it’s still a pleasant enough distraction from the gargantuan sea.