Suikoden V PS2 Review

The Suikoden series has always delivered a compulsive storyline, which is up there amongst the best yarns in not only RPGS but entertainment as a whole. It certainly tells a better story than it plays a game, so much so that it’s easy to forget that the series has always had its shortcomings, and despite reaching its fifth instalment and tenth year, they still have yet to be addressed.

As always, Suikoden V has a magnificent plot, which in spite of its theme of magic and offbeat races in its world, still manages to be an authentic portrayal of war. You play a nameless prince, who comes from the Queendom of Falena a country run by an unpredictable Queen. Common themes of the series such as war, tragic loss, deceit and friendship are all intact.

To begin with you are little more than a spectator, with the only form of interaction being a regular push of the X button to progress through text based speeches. Indeed, it takes a number of hours, before you are able to actually control your avatar for any lengthy duration of time, and this could be seen as a problem by those who’d rather play than watch their games.

When you finally do play it, things are largely as they always have been.

The regular battles are of the basic turn-based variety, with familiar elements such as co-op attacks and Runes (bodily attachments used for magic) along with a new formation system that allows you to change your strategy based on your current situation, in addition to this is the return of the six person party, which was sorely missed from the underrated Suikoden IV. As usual the encounter rate is sky high, with every few steps warping you into a new skirmish. But, since the battles are so fast and often over in mere seconds, this never proves to be too much of an annoyance thankfully.

At certain important plot points, you’ll partake in duels, which will be familiar to fans of the series. These function differently to the regular battles and most often see the prince taking on an important bad guy one-on-one. Prior to every attack he/she makes, your adversary will mutter some words, offering you a clue as to their next action, this allows you to pick your own attack type accordingly. With most opponents words being painfully obvious, most duels are easy to overcome, however they do look fantastic and succeed in adding importance to certain battles.

The RTS like mass battles make a welcome return. Since they utilize the papers-scissors and stones method, these function much like the above mentioned duels. Archers are weak against infantry, whilst infantry are weak against cavalry for example. You are rewarded items upon victory in these battles, the quality of which is determined by your overall performance, so it’s worth keeping losses to a minimum if at all possible.

Other familiar and fan pleasing elements are the return of the 108 stars of destiny, which consist of warriors and merchants, amongst others that all contribute to your cause. Some of these will join you at important plot points, whilst the remainder are optional and differing methods will earn you their service, which are at times a bit too obscure it has to be said.

Though it’s more challenging than its predecessors, Suikoden V is far too easy. Even the bosses don’t put up much of a fight and can usually be downed within a couple of turns. The most challenging aspect of the game is seeking out the 108 stars of destiny, but it’s all too often related to luck rather than skill and because of the much larger areas and jarring loading times it’s much more of a tedious activity than usual too.

Suikoden V is not the most playable RPG around, but story wise, it’s one of the best examples of the genre there is. For Suikoden VI, Console Obsession hopes that the gameplay will match the storyline for magnificence, a concoction that will surely result in one of the finest RPGS ever.