Suikoden: A long time coming
Finally, FINALLY, a good RPG. Finally characters that you care about, good graphics, tons of adventures, and what RPG's require most: a gripping story-line. Suikoden delivers it all, and is a must for all RPG fans.
The game starts like this: You are the son of Teo McDohl. Teo is one of the five great generals of the Empire. The evil sorceress Windy is secretly controlling the emperor and the generals. You realize the corruption surrounding the Empire and decide to join the Liberation Army. Of course, the leader of the Liberation Army is killed and you are put into the role of leading the army. You capture a castle in the middle of a lake, and your job of recruiting soldiers begins.
Unlike most games on the market today, Suikoden has 2D graphics. Yeah, they look like they could have been done on the SNES or Genesis, but they don't look bad. The characters look relatively good for sprites, and some of the backgrounds look amazing. The fight scenes have awesome zooming and panning effects that make the battle interesting. When you're about to do a critical blow, the camera will zoom in close to the enemy so that you can see your weapon smash the creature. The spells are the greatest part of the game graphically. Whether it be wind, fire, earth, or water, the spell graphics are majestic.
There is a mind-numbing number of characters in the game. There are 108 different characters that you can recruit, and in doing so you open up huge possibilities of combinations. You can choose any of those 108 characters to be in your traveling party at any one time, and some of the characters can even "unite" to do even more damage to your enemies. There are also enough enemies to keep you entertained, as there are massive amounts of them, and they don't repeat very often.
There are three types of battles - one on one, party vs. party, and army vs. army. The first two are fairly basic RPG fights, with impressive graphical and sound features. The army fighting mode is really cool. At various times in the game, you'll be called on to command your entire army. We're talking tens of thousands of people being controlled at the same time. These battles of epic proportions are not only exciting, they're a novel idea that makes gameplay much more interesting.
The music is astonishing. Whether it's a country score for a small town, or a massive orchestral brawl, it all sounds phenomenal. The sound effects are also just as good. The sounds accompanied by the magic produce a theatrical experience missing from many other games. Explosions, electrocutions, and deaths are crystal clear, and extremely realistic.
To top it off, the game has a great deal of longevity, too. The desire to get through the whole game (which should take you at least 25 hours) stays with you from the beginning, and if you recruit all 108 characters you will get a special ending when you win. The captivating story is just like a good book, it's hard to put down.
Suikoden is the best RPG to come out in years. The game has what it takes to stand up in an action dominated game market and shine. If you're looking for a game that will suck you into another world, as another person, it's right here in the form of Suikoden.