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Suikoden IV

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Adventure


PS2 Preview - 'Suikoden IV'

by Thomas Wilde on June 2, 2004 @ 1:52 a.m. PDT

Genre : RPG
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Release Date: December 31,2004

Okay, Suikoden III was a little disappointing. Its storyline was good, but it had a few too many fights with fixed incomes, and a few too many characters who were just sort of dropped in your lap. It’s still one of the better RPGs on the PS2, and the series as a whole is one of the best-kept secrets of the video game industry. Yes, it gets critical accolades, and to know it is to love it, but its is a quiet sort of success.

Suikoden IV is a departure from the third game in quite a few ways. It wasn’t fully playable on the show floor, with only a few short fights and a bit of dialogue. Gone are Suikoden III’s six-person parties, replaced by a four-man group where each character acts independently of each other. There doesn’t appear to be any kind of determination of formation here, either; all four characters stand side by side on the battlefield, whether they’re close-combat fighters or archers or magicians. The famed combo system from past games is still in evidence, however, although none of them were possible with the demo’s party (two knights, an elf, and a large brawny guy).

In Suikoden's universe, all magic comes from Runes, which are transferred from crystals to the hands or forehead of their wielders. Many of your characters will have lesser Runes, but only the main characters get to have one of the twenty-seven True Runes. (So far, we’ve seen seven of those Runes, on the hands of the heroes of the past games.)

Here, the protagonist is a young knight, whose name is as yet unknown, who acquires the Rune of Punishment from the sage Leknaat. Unfortunately, this Rune grants its power in exchange for slowly draining the life of its wielder. In past games, the Runes have been the secret to overcoming a greater threat, but here, the thrust of the adventure appears to be getting rid of the Rune itself.

Suikoden IV is produced by Junko Kawano, who makes her return to the series after two games spent away. According to her, this game is an attempt to take the series in a new direction. It’s got a good start on that, so far; not only is this the first Suikoden to feature voice acting, but most of the game is set at sea. You’ll be able to pilot ships, as well as engage in sea battles.

Finally, of course, the central “hook” of the Suikoden series is still in operation. Once again, you’ll be able to gather a hundred and eight characters together, from every part of the corner of the Suikoden world, and form your army. The Stars of Destiny aren’t all warriors; some will open shops at your base of operations, or provide useful tactical options on the battlefield. Others… okay, others usually have no purpose whatsoever, but they’re generally amusing, at least.

I’m a ridiculous fanboy for this series, and frankly, I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll be here to wring whatever further details I can out of whoever’ll tell them to me over the next six months, as I wait none-too-patiently for Suikoden IV release.

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