The plot of Suikoden IV is a closely guarded secret, but Matsukawa-san has revealed he is working with Junko Kawano - who was part of the original Suikoden team - on the fourth game's story and character designs. The game's basis revolved around the mysterious Rune of Punishment, but he also disclosed that the series' famed 108 Stars of Destiny are poised to return, and can be recruited to join the player's cause. While the plot remains a secret, though, the gameplay has been massively reworked, with the familiar 2D views of the original games replaced by vast and rich 3D environments. In another first, Suikoden IV also takes the player on to the high seas, as they traverse the game world to distant shores.
The new aesthetic make-over is similarly enhanced by new dynamic lighting effects, while the many monsters, would-be allies and adversaries the group faces are highly-detailed polygon figures. Suikoden IV also benefits from the series' most advanced combat system to date, with the team pooling their spell-casting and weapon-based skills to counter the game's larger foes, while a myriad of new combination attacks are possible - all of which are shown via a roaming camera.
Suikoden IV is certain to be one of the most engrossing and varied role-playing games of the coming year. Its predecessors have been listed in the Top 100 lists of a number of publications, and this epic is guaranteed to enjoy similar acclaim.
Suikoden IV will be released for PlayStation 2 in the next fiscal year, 2004/2005.
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