In the existence of the PS2 we have seen so many Japanese RPG’s hit the market that it’s hard to even imagine. Konami’s Suikoden has been known to bring an interesting outlook on the turn based RPG realm, and the games have always seem to been one for RPG fans to look forward to. Now in its fourth installment the developers once again try to recapture the series glory in Suikoden IV for the PS2.
The one thing about the Suikoden series is that you really never know what to expect, as we have seen it take so many different styles over the years. In Suikoden III we finally saw the series in 3D and it really did an amazing job with the story, which quite possibly could have been one of the best RPG story on the PS2 to date. But then again some of the gameplay mechanics in the game really made for some room for improvements, as this game seemed to offer not enough in terms of combat. So does the fourth installment put it all together to create a great game?
One thing I must commend Suikoden III was its storyline, which really got you engulfed into its vast array of characters, who all had their own unique trademarks and background stories. It is one of the few games that I really was interested by the characters and wanted to learn more about them, and to be honest one of the few Japanese storylines I actually enjoyed. The story behind Suikoden IV takes a different sort of approach, with a much less interesting storyline. To be honest this time around the game goes with a much less intuitive storyline that doesn’t get you as involved with the other characters in the game as we did in the previous. You play as a young guy (who you name), who obtains the Rune of Punishment and now most go on his very own journey. All in all the storyline is still entertaining but it is nowhere near as engaging as Suikoden III.
So once you get past that fact, you wonder if this time around the gameplay is going to hold up its fair share of the bargain. And in some instances it does and in others it just fails miserably.
I am one of those guys that like to get the bad news out of the way, so I am going to do just that with the gameplay right here. In Suikoden IV you will be doing a lot of traveling from island to island, by using a ship. Ok we all know this is not the fastest means of transportation, but come on now we don’t need to experience the slow speed of a ship in the game, put the ship on steroids or something! Couldn’t they just let the traveling between islands be a less painful experience?
So once you get past the big gripe of traveling, the game actually picks up some steam (finally) once you reach land. You will be going through many different villages, which just don’t seem as populated as they should be. A lot of the buildings in the game are rather dull and lack much to do. But once you get to the game’s combat system things do pick up a bit.
Unlike in Suikoden III where you had six characters in battle, you now have four which some may contemplate as a bad thing, but I say thank you! I liked having a much smaller battle party as it really helped me give me a better perspective on what was going on, and what are the best ways to take out the enemies. One thing I did notice in the game was there are a lot of random battles. In fact at many points in the game there just seem to be too many random encounters, which only servers to slow down the pace of the game quite a bit.
I know you all are probably thinking this is a bad game; gosh I wouldn’t blame you because I have been bashing Suikoden IV pretty good. But in the game’s defense I must say that it is a decent game in its own right but just can be a little too simple for its own good. I mean the combat is now a lot less complex with only four characters, and then combine that with a much less eventful storyline and it just seems like Suikoden IV doesn’t have as much staying power as Suikoden III. I can’t say the game is bad though because all of the normal RPG elements are intact. It’s just the game doesn’t go anywhere with it.
Japanese RPG’s have never been known for their superb graphics, but instead for their unique visual styles. I must hand it to the developers of these type of RPG’s as they never seem to be afraid of going for their own unique styles, one thing very few American style games seem to do.
The style of Suikoden III is a game that seems to take a lot of its ideas/styles from the anime realm. In Suikoden IV we see some of the characters beginning to look more and more realistic while others retain the anime style. The character models in general aren’t much better then in the third as they seem to retain the same sort of look. The one positive thing Suikoden IV does feature is the water effects which are one of the most commendable aspects of Suikoden IV.
Overall Suikoden IV isn’t a whole lot different from the third rendition which leaves the game starting to look worn down in the graphical side. This doesn’t necessarily mean Suikoden IV is a bad looking game, its just we have seen better.
Some of you may be surprised to hear me say this after reading the first few sections of this review, but there were some fun points to Suikoden IV. The story did have times where it started to gain my interest, and the combat does start to become more of a challenge in the later parts of the game. But unfortunately for the average gamer this is all too late as most gamers will be turned off by the long sea journeys and numerous random battles.
I was definitely expecting a lot more out of Suikoden IV, but unfortunately this game just didn’t come through the way I though it would. With Suikoden IV, you are given a very mediocre Japanese RPG’s, which unfortunately in this day and age that’s just not good enough. Unless you are just a diehard Suikoden fan my recommendation is to just keep this one as a rental at best.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.