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Sudeki Review

Brian_Gee By:
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Not very adventurous.

The battle between good and evil is as old as time itself, so it's no surprise to see it showing up in Microsoft's new action/RPG, Sudeki. The gods of light and dark are vying for control of Haskilla, yet it's up to a soldier, a princess, a scientist and a beast-woman to ultimately decide the fate of the world.

You'll start off as Tal, an officer in the elite guard of the kingdom of Illumina. As you progress through your adventure, you'll be joined by Illumina's Princess Alish, Chief Science Officer Elco, and Buki, the anthropomorphic Shadani warrior. Using these four, you'll engage a variety of enemies in both first and third person combat. With some cool weapons, a little magic and a heaping helping of teamwork, you might make it through this thing in one piece.

Sudeki provides players with plenty of action to go along with character management and stat building. It still generally follows the old RPG convention of traveling from town/dungeon/town/dungeon, but that doesn't seem to bog down the flow of the game too much. For the most part, it's all about the battles.

The combat is in real-time and takes place in both first- and third-person depending upon which character is currently being controlled. Tal and Buki are the melee fighters and fight from the third-person perspective, while Alish and Elco serve as the ranged fighters shooting from first-person. You can swap between the characters at the press of a button and special techniques/spells are executed from a pop-up menu. Melee fighters are equipped with a selection of horizontal and vertical attacks along with timing-based combinations, while ranged fighters have the added ability to switch weapons on the fly to match the situation. The combination of these gameplay styles gives Sudeki a distinct flavor, and at times is its greatest asset.

Unfortunately, battles occur in these irritating little 'arenas.' You'll be traipsing through the countryside minding your own business when all of a sudden a wall of thorns springs up from the ground and blocks the path in front and behind you. Enemies teleport into view and the fight begins. Even the dungeon crawls do the same, only with locked doors and gates in place of the wall of thorns. Walk a little, watch enemies get warped in, and fight for a bit. Wring hands thoroughly and repeat often. This system creates noticeable seams in the adventure and interrupts the flow of the game.

Another battle boo-boo is the inability to lock-on to an enemy while using the third-person melee characters. First-person shooting is no problem, but trying to face a specific enemy while running around with a big sword/claws is a chore. Stop for too long and you're toast. Keep running and you'll have a tough time trying to actually hit your opponent. Oh, the horror.

There are also problems with the item/magic/super technique menu. Bringing it up only slows down time rather than stopping it, which can have disastrous results. You'll need to keep a close eye on your comrades, since getting them the appropriate items might take a few extra seconds as you scroll through a large item list. Hold on guys, I know I've got that healing potion in here somewhere! To be fair, they included the ability to use the D-pad as a shortcut for up to four items, but often the situation will call for something that you just didn't plan out.

Despite these irritating combat glitches, the game does provide some inspired moments and manages to dish out enough classic role-playing gameplay to at least entertain for a while. However, Sudeki's biggest fault is its linearity. The world might seem large and colorful, but you're basically confined to a single path punctuated by the aforementioned battle arenas. Some side quests that usually involve collecting one item or another exist to break up the monotony, but their value to the overall game experience is minimal. Compared to other Xbox RPGs like Star Wars: KOTOR or Morrowind, Sudeki ain't even in the ballpark.

To its credit, Sudeki does have a few other things going for it, not the least of which is its four-character party approach. Unlike many party-based RPGs, the game splits up the group of heroes from time to time, allowing each character's storyline to develop a little more than if the group stayed together the whole time. Also nice is the ability to customize weapons and armor with magical runes. Just head over to the local weaponsmith and bless your steel with the power to protect against curses, steal life or boost combat damage.

Another feather in Sudeki's cap is its excellent graphics. Haskilla is a pretty place, with bright colors, beautiful landscapes and high-poly denizens. A good use of shadows and interesting environmental designs keep you immersed in the world. If only the rest of the game was as well-polished as the visuals.

The audio certainly isn't. Both player and NPC characters are fully-voiced, which, in theory, is great. In practice, however, the voices are annoying and uninspired. Background tracks do their job well enough, but there are these occasional gaps during a battle where everything just goes silent. The jury is out on this one.

With an overly linear structure and a problematic battle system, Sudeki has its fair share of issues. But these are far from being showstoppers and the game does enjoy a decent helping of action/RPG gameplay. If you've got the craving and can look beyond its few annoying qualities, Sudeki might be worth a peek. Anyone less forgiving will want to spend their skill points elsewhere.

C+ Revolution report card
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