RPG's can fit into only 2 categories now a days. Final Fantasy, or Dragon Quest. They are the creme' del le creme' of RPG's, and have been for years. Games like Kingdom Hearts, Batien Katios and Tales of Symphonia come along and make a splash, but what about other types of RPG Franchises. Few of them make more than one or two games, which is why Suikoden V is a bit different.
The game has a great premise as well. In the Queendom of Falena, you are the prince of Queen Arshtat, who in the middle of the game, needs to raise an army to defeat a political rival. The game is full of political intrigue, morality, power and the difference between classes, which is rare in most RPGs. Definitly an excellent story, but that is just one of a few ingreidents to a good game.
The cinematics shine brightly in the game, with little or no framerate issues. Sometimes they are bright and cheery, other times they are shadowy and dark. It fits the mood well. The in game graphics are not bad either, with semi-fluid animations in towns and such. The overworld map is ugly though, and battles have repetitive motions, but most RPG'S are like that anyway. Overall the graphics where there when it counts, and that is what's important.
Final Score- B
You can control up to 6 party members, which is a change from last years with only 4, and apparently going back into the traditions of the older games in the Series. You also will learn various formations, which can be used in battle. It adds a bit of strategy as to which out of the 60+ characters you want to use, where to put them, how to use them, and what formation would be best. Plus, there are 108 characters in total to recuit, and half the fun is getting to them and figuring out how to get them to join your army. Throw in a slew of mini-games, from fishing to checkers, and other in game sequences, such as Duels and Army battles, and you got a nice package right?
Well, not entirely. One complaint is that the game has to many loading screens, which is an annoyance at times. It can take about 2 hours to complete a dungeon, because the random enounters occur after every 5 steps basically. Magic is done with runes, but it runs out quickly, so buying magical scrolls would be wise. You also have to put magic on with the help of a runecaster, who has shop in most of the towns, so it can be a pain at times to place runes on characters who don't have any. Also, while the duels and the army battles are nice to break up gameplay and move the story, they are kind of done poorly. It is basically a game of rock-paper scisiors, and if you follow that, you won't lose. Also, the prince has choices in terms of dialouge, which is a nice touch, but if you say the wrong thing at the wrong time, you might miss out on a character or even end the game abruptly. You can end the game 5 times in what are called "Bad Endings", so you need to be careful on what course of actions you take. Overall, not to much to complain about, unless you hate loading times and thinking to much.
Final Score- B+
The game some great orchestral music for it's cutscenes, and in game music is really done well also. Each tune, whether it be the town or villiage your in, to the dungeon your exploring, is different, and fits into the area your in as well. Voice acting is decent as well, with each character having their own personality, although some actors did better than others for sure, it was good to see that they took care in putting good voices in.
Final Score- B
When I had the choice to buy Sukoden V or Kingdom Hearts II, I went with the one I thought no one would get. I definitly made the right choice, because Suikoden V has all you need for a great game. Strong storylines and characterization, a surpisingly refeshing and deep battle system, breaks in the action at the right moments, and the overall polish of a good RPG. Loading times are a pain, and it takes about 15 hours for the story to pick up a bit, but it's all worth it in the end with this 60 hour game. Final Fantasy may be the main man, but Suikoden V is it's hot, younger cousin
Final Score- B