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Oct. 4, 2006
Suikoden V - PS2 Review
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Some of the great characters.
2006 has been a good year for RPG gamers in PAL territories. Titles like Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King and Kingdom Hearts II have captured our hearts, and wallets. But there's a long list of "second tier" RPG's also being released - they're not going to capture the headlines, or front pages of magazines, but promise just as much entertainment. One such title is this one; Konami's Suikoden V - a title which we've been very keen to get acquainted with since the release in Japan and America in the first months of the year.

As with any RPG it all starts with the story... In the land of Falena, a prosperous and beautiful country governed by the matriarchy and the benevolent power of the Sun Rune, civil unrest arises and the queen is forced to use the Sun Rune to quell the uprising, but at what cost? Journey as the prince in an expansive quest uncovering the mysteries surrounding the Sun Rune, the civil unrest and the dark intent of an unknown power.

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There's plenty of text to read.
While the story may sound pretty standard fare the way in which it has been told, and the numerous, and often surprising twists and turns, will have you hooked - many occurring quite late in the 50-odd hour game. In terms of gameplay Suikoden V doesn't stray to far from the RPG tree. As with most other RPG's your task is to recruit characters during your travels and pick out a solid team. In fact the game includes over 60 playable characters to make your party of six from which is a nice change from some RPG's which give you your heroes and that's it. The battles themselves are quite spectacular, and also quite lengthy - especially against some of the spectacular bosses.

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Going into battle.
As we covered in the preview of the game a couple of weeks ago Konami have made several additions to this latest title. To start Suikoden V includes more interaction with the 3D landscapes, while battle parties of up to six characters (from a possible cast of over 60 playable characters) can engage in skirmishes simultaneously. Speaking of battles the tactical formation system allows over 20 strategic formations while in battle. The game also includes all new mini-games used to obtain essential funds, while the 'Home Base' system lets users gather together their many allies to combine their individual attributes and enlarge their home land. The game challenges gamers to uncover the 108 Stars of Destiny to build up and customize a home base. As with any good RPG it will also be possible to completely customize your characters with a new skill system, weapon enhancement system and hundreds of unique equipment items.

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One of the many cut scenes.
One of the biggest problems with this title is that it really does take quite a while for the game to ramp up to full pace. The first 5-10 hours or so are rather slow and meandering, you really start to wonder if it's worth your time. But persist. It is worth your time and when the game picks up it really is very enjoyable. We're not just talking about the main quest either. As with many modern RPG's there are plenty of mini-games to keep you occupied for periods of time. To add some longevity Konami have packed in 11 different endings on the disc depending on your performance and decisions made throughout the game. Another of the annoyances is the loading. While it's not long there are frequent short loading periods which do become annoying.

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Fixing the dam? Not yet.
Let's get this out the way early. Suikoden V is not visually comparable to Square-Enix's RPG's. It has been developed on a much smaller budget for a much smaller audience. There are fewer cut scenes, a bit less polish and fewer locations. But it's not all bad. Artistically the game is quite stunning. Some of the character designs, from the main heroes to the bosses and the smallest enemies are quite superb. The numerous locations in the game are also quite impressive with some gorgeous backgrounds on offer. While the textures could be sharper they get the job done. There are some slight disappointments. The frame rate can stutter slightly when there is a lot on screen, especially in busy towns.

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More cut-scenes.
Audio in the game is quite good. The voice acting, while not the best heard, is more then acceptable with some great characters brought to life through the cut scenes. For the most part however you will be reading text in the game. The effects are adequate however it's the music which really stands out as a highlight. The score is perfectly suited to this game, and definitely adds an additional layer of polish to the package.

Suikoden V is, as we'd hoped, a very impressive title. If you're a RPG fan then there is little reason not to pick up this game - just be prepared to invest a fair amount of time before you get the best out of it. Well done Konami on producing such a wonderful title in Suikoden V.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSIt's not up there with Square-Enix games, but it's not horrible.
SOUNDAdequate effects, solid voicework but very impressive music.
GAMEPLAYIt's an RPG with all the right ingredients, including solid combat.
VALUEA lengthy game that takes a while to get into, only $69.95.
OVERALLSuikoden V is a fine RPG from Konami. The game is lengthy, always entertaining (besides the rather tiring first half dozen hours or so), and has a solid storyline. With the game released here for only $AU69.95 it's another title worth adding to the collection.

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