Intro - Suikoden Tactics is Strategy Role Playing game which acts as a companion to last year's Suikoden IV from Konami. Tactics is set in the same universe as Suikoden 4 and occurs before, during and after the events in this game.
Firstly a question, how many of you are fans of Strategy Role Playing games? â Not many I guess â and if I am honest this is also my first play of an SRPG. I am a huge fan of RPGs from the mainstream Final Fantasy games to the lesser known (in the UK) series such as Shadow Hearts, Shin Megami Tensei, Dragonquest and Suikoden but was not really sure what to expect from my first play through of Suikoden Tactics and was initially surprised that it was even being released on European shores.
So was it an enlightening experience or is there a reason why this type of game fails to attract the masses? Lets find outâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦..
The story focuses on Kyril who at the start of the story is fleeing with his friends and family from a number of monsters overrunning the Island Nations. Kyril suffers a tragic loss early in the story that leads him to dedicating his life to investigating the mysterious Rune Cannons. He forms a band of heroes to further his work and help repel the invaders from the Island Nations.
The story is progressed through cut-scenes and character dialogue and is standard RPG fantasy stuff, however while intriguing at times, the story seems to gloss over huge chunks of detail. This either assumes prior knowledge from playing other Suikoden games or perhaps something is lost in translation, but at times the story does not appear to sit together too well. In such a story driven game it is essential that the gamer feels involved and close to the story and in some ways this lets the game down.
The graphics are by no means a strongpoint of the game â battles take place on different terrains which are overlaid by a grid and both the characters and enemies occupy squares on the grid. The characters are fairly small due to scale of the battles and number of people involved. This results in the characters looking like cell shaded lego men in both the battles and also in the cut scenes. Terrains are often drab colour-wise and occasionally it is difficult to pick out detail. One redeeming feature however is the rune (spell/magic) effects which are quite impressive. Graphics are by no means terrible but 'functional' is probably the best description.
Voice acting plays a large part in the game in terms of storytelling and for the most part is done well, especially with the playable and central characters. Also the music is decent and in fitting with the overall theme of the game.
I was expecting to find this game difficult to pick up with a steep learning curve however it is in fact the opposite â the first few battles act as tutorials and whenever new features become available you can access a tutorial/help menu â as such the game is very easy to get into and understand but at the same time has a lot of depth.
The main focus of the game is the large scale combat which takes place across the Suikoden world. As you travel across the world you are able to interact with and recruit numerous characters to your cause. Each character has distinct skills for you to call upon as required.
The combat itself takes place on a gridded environment with each battle having specific win/defeat conditions. The key to winning lies in using the terrain to your advantage and also making use of individual's elemental affinities and exploiting you enemies weaknesses. As such charging headlong into battle is not the way to go about things, even on the early battles you will get your ass handed to you if you don't have a plan. Strategy is the name of the game folks! Although your main story characters can not be outright killed, they withdraw from battles when HP = 0, your recruited team members can die so it is even more essential that they are not sacrificed due to lack of planning.
The battles can eat up a lot of time but are also a lot of fun - you do become attached to your team and its objectives â it is truly gutting to lose a character that you have kitted out and levelled up. Team morale can be improved by having characters talk to each other and as a result they protect and assist attacks if the goodwill is high â in addition certain characters can perform co-op moves if positioned correctly. The battle system is comprehensive and easy to learn making the game exciting from the start.
In between battles you visit various towns, purchase equipment, refine weapons etc and generally progress the story until a battle situation arises. Unlike a traditional RPG there is no exploration in the game â you decide your destination by selecting it on a world map. In some ways I preferred this as it allowed you to fully focus on the battles ahead.
Controls in the game are simple â all actions are accessed through menu screens which are sensibly set out â as such not much more to say.
Overall I enjoyed playing this game and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to try out the SRPG genre. It was no where near as complicated as I expected and the battles are a lot of fun. However, this type of game does not appeal to everyone and there may not be enough flashy cutscenes and fancy graphics to entice the average gamer but it is a good introduction to a genre and the Suikoden series of game. Overall I give Suikoden Tacticsâ¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦â¦
7.5 out of 10