Which title from Konami combines real-time strategy, amazing graphics, 108 characters and incredible storylines to make a great RPG? Yep, “Suikoden” is back and now on the Playstation 2 in its third installment. Fans of “Suikoden II” will appreciate the time that was put into meshing both the old storyline with a new one.

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of Konami

The game unfolds in one central story, through the eyes of three adventurers: Chris, Hug and Geddoe. A war between a bureaucratic government, the Zexen Federation, and the plains-walking people to the west, the Grasslanders, arises after unprovoked attacks on both sides. Gamers get to sit in the captain’s chair of the protagonist and antagonist of the story, influence the plot with unique decisions and pick up over a hundred playable characters to join in on the quest.

“Suikoden III”‘s strongpoint is its in-depth character development. Most of the new characters contribute to the game’s vivid world, whether it be a quest, learning how to play a new mini-game, or even the history to explain the background of a specific character.

For those who are accostomed to “Final Fantasy” and other less plot-driven role-playing games, “Suikoden III” might come off as having a slow pace. Gamers can expect an hour of dialogue for every 20 minutes of combat. While a unique characteristic of “Suikoden III” is its strong emphasis on plot movement, it can become tiresome as the sensation of the game “playing itself” can easily set in.

The controls are indicative of the majority of RPGs on the market, where abilities are selected from a list on the screen, and the characters execute the commands. Neither magic nor combat maneuvers are visually stunning and they are essentially the same recycled spells and duos from the previous “Suikoden” games.

One will find the music in “Suikoden III” comparable to Squaresoft’s affinity for live vocals and lulling symphonies. Konami has composed an original musical score that has its own unique flavor consisting of raging tempos all the way to delicate nocturnes. While the game doesn’t finish with the same energy and excitement as the beginning, gamers will surely find memorable moments in the over 80 hours of gameplay.

3 1/2 Stars

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