Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Suikoden IV

+++ Running around in First Person is pretty fun
++ Pretty good Intro movie once again
++ Castle is a Ship for a change
+ Main character is the one of the best in combat
+ Vastly superior graphically to Suikoden 3
+ Gameplay is not terrible in and of itself
+ Actually has voice acting
+ Few excellent sidequests
--- Way too many random battles
-- Ship moves at a glacial pace with a huge distance between islands
-- Plays like a tedious dungeon crawl
-- Exceptionally boring
-- Extremely easy Strategic Battles
- Villains are all weak save Graham Cray
- Voice acting kinda sucks
- Weak Plot
- Relatively short
- Fairly easy
- Excessive fanservice

This game had a ton of good ideas and failed miserably to put them to good use, a naval based RPG is fairly unique and there are a variety of ways that it could have been better produced than this. If this game were more ship focused in the combat while eliminating the excessive travel distance it might be bearable. I tried to advance the plot a bit in my 2-3 hours of playing it for refreshing my memory but even at the shortest distance possible I still ran into 10 random battles traveling from one island to the next. The 108 recruitable characters are more or less thrown at you so despite having that many I finished the game the first time around in ~35 hours. Even with Viki, the teleportation mage in every Suikoden, it still takes forever to get anywhere in this game. Despite that the game still manages to be short. If Final Fantasy XII of the 35 hour plot and 100 hour playtime felt strange this game with its 5 hours of plot and 30 hours of dungeon/ship crawling feels horrible.

I also beat the last boss once again, in about 3 turns with several ridiculously powerful spells. Unlike Suikoden 3 this game doesn't have a soft level cap so you can overlevel it, I did not but I still massacred the last boss for the most part. However when I fucked around a bit on the next attempt I died in relatively short order so I suppose if one is not prepared it could be vaguely difficult. The boss' monologue is pretty good though, one of the rare examples of good voice acting in the game. Unfortunately this one acceptable boss is one of the hardest in the game. Most JRPGs, I will grant, don't have many difficult battles but this one has just one sidequest that I can recall where the boss is fairly difficult, with everything else being simple. Suikoden 3 was somewhat unique in the series in having a much more difficult ending section but this game reverted to the cakewalk route. Of course when I walked down the tower to get away from where the final boss is I encountered about 15 random battles of completely trivial enemies, huzzah.

This game has a character introduced fairly on, Troy, who could have been as badass as Yuber or better if they actually constructed more of an interesting plot and a series of battles with him, instead he's sort of an afterthought by the end. The game as a whole has this problem throughout, every character is underdeveloped even moreso than normal for a game with 108 characters. The pirates are a fairly interesting cast but they do next to nothing outside of a few short scenes, the one character who gets decent exposure is Lino En Kuldes, but he doesn't have a good enough voice actor for it to grant any inspiration when he gives his random speeches.

Suikoden 3 was a fairly popular game that came out around PS2 launch, thus adding substantially to the fanbase. As a result Suikoden IV almost made greatest hits, but it was so terrible it propelled Suikoden V's sales down to less than half of IV's and resulted in the series being more or less short circuited afterward. Suikoden V is a good/great game which I personally almost didn't buy because of this tripe that came before it (Suikoden Tactics was similarly terrible), though fortunately I did. Of course JRPGs have taken a fairly large hit in the American market since the rise of extremely same-y First Person Shooters but this certainly didn't help.

Final Score: 6/10 

Aside: I've gone back to finishing Demon's Souls but the game is so ridiculously superior to Dragon Age I may well play it through again on New Game + before I return to Bioware's cliche'd corporate cash-in garbage.

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