Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Genso Suikoden V

Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation
Credits: 2006 Konami Computer Entertainment Tokyo, Inc. Screenshots courtesy of RPGFan.

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Cover Description:

Tragedy and Destiny Intertwine Surrounding

the Legendary Sun Rune!

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 in the greatest Suikoden saga yet!

  • Tactical Formation System allows for over 20 strategic formations in battle.
  • 6 member battle parties with over 60 playable characters.
  • Enhance and customize your characters' skills, abilities, weapons and magic.
  • Fight on land and sea in strategic army skirmishes with hundreds of troops.

The saddest Suikoden I've ever played. >>> by skysenshi
I had the impression that I had to have a keen memory of all my Suikoden games to appreciate this one. After all, I had loved Suikoden III so much because I was able to extract the bonuses from my I & II saved files, thereby enhancing III's value by virtue of sheer nostalgia. But Suikoden V is set ten years before the first installment, which means that besides a couple of familiar — albeit younger — faces, there's not much reminiscing going on. Nevertheless, V delivered. And how!

Story and Characters

For the first time in Genso Suikoden history, your protagonist is a respected royalty. Sure, the setting is the Queendom of Falena, where women hold the highest position of authority, but the prince you control isn't exactly lacking in majesty. And despite his prettiness, you really can't help but like the character from day one.

What's even more amazing with this game is the fact that despite so many characters — the traditional 108 stars being present — nearly everyone has decent coverage. The back stories and personalities are well fleshed out; you'd definitely remember most of them months after you've finished V. Some of them you'd really despise (i.e. Marina) and some of them you'd be in awe of (i.e. Lucretia, Sialeeds). Others are just so darned weird (i.e. Rahal, Rania, Roy, Egbert, Genoh) you'll have a hard time keeping your laughter in check. The 108 Stars of Destiny just leave so much of an impact that you might even dream about many of them. Supporting characters like the beautiful Queen Arshtat and her husband Ferid wouldn't fail to make one sigh either.

The castle you'll be building in this game is huge. Bigger than anything you've ever done for past installments. I'd advise any gaming fanatic to explore it everytime it grows. You'd want to take advantage of the hilarious bath scenes, some dramatic landmarks in each of the characters' rooms (or even graveyards), and hauntingly strange rituals that may happen before the final battle.

Needless to say that in terms of storyline, Suikoden V can stand well enough on its own. It has solid characterization and a truly engaging plot that would keep you playing for hours on end.

Gameplay and Battle System

Many of the gameplay mechanics that disappeared in Suikoden IV were brought back here. Suikoden III's skill system, for one, is a welcome sight. It's a shame, however, that you can only equip 3 skills (magic and/or physical) at the most. You need to upgrade the regular skills in order to open up higher level skills that combine the attributes of lower level ones. As with its predecessors, the usual Runes, weapon upgrades and trading systems are available.

There's also the addition of Formation Skills, wherein the formation you choose can both give your party some attribute advantage plus the ability to initiate a special group attack/support skill. For instance, the Tiger Formation, gives +10 ATK to front row characters and +10 magic to back row characters. Furthermore, Tiger allows your party to attack a column of enemies (x1.2 damage) all at once. Sometimes the skill can dish out about 2-3K damage and may instantly kill enemies, depending on their HP rate.

Of course, the tactical battles will never disappear. The mechanics for this one is somewhat similar to Warcraft, wherein you can deploy units to attack specific enemies in real time. You have to think fast because other units will continue to move even while you're still setting the commands for one particular unit.

The one-on-one duel system is likewise still in place. For those who are new to the series, the duel system is akin to rock-paper-scissors. Unless you're holding a walkthrough, you'd have to be good at guessing what your sparring opponent is going to do next.

Like all the other Suikoden games before it, V offers a variety of mini-games that you can truly enjoy. II boasted of a cooking contest, while V's especially addictive mini-game is the fishing contest.


While I still prefer the traditional 2D look of the first two Suikodens, I must admit that the artwork here is impressive. V's look isn't exactly 3D, at least, not the way they had intended it to be for III and IV. It's more like a combination of both 2D and 3D, isometric environment coupled with cell-shaded 3D graphics.

This is a far cry from Suikoden IV's crappy crotch-riding outfits. (Why the character creator thought I'd want to see IV's very male hero in vagina shorts is beyond me.) The costume designs in V are as elaborate as the Chinese traditional costumes. They're very colorful, detailed and nicely rendered. The bonus here is the fact that there are so many attractive men and women in this game that you wouldn't begin to know where to look.

The musical scoring is superbly done, to say the least. It's definitely worth it to invest in the CD because Suikoden V has one of the most memorable collections of background music ever heard in video games. While the battle music may not be as LSS*-inducing as Suikoden IV's, the dramatic moments and tension-filled scenarios are captured perfectly by the rest of the tracks. Sometimes just listening to the BGMs alone is enough to make you weep. You have got to witness Rania and the Dragon Cavalry's musical ritual.

Replay Value

Here is where the irony lies. I was so obsessed with playing this that I was set on going through the "New Game Plus" mode. Unfortunately, many of the circumstances surrounding your hero's victory are so traumatic and tragic that when the opening scene played, I felt a telltale lump in my throat. This prompted me to turn off my PS2 lest I burst into tears at the memory of a happy beginning. The closest analogy I can come up with is this: Suppose the love of your life had passed away. And shortly after the funeral, you unearth a video footage of you and him frolicking in the snow. You witness him playing jokes and generally clowning around. And while you're watching this, you remember that he's gone. You'll either laugh or cry...or do both. This is exactly how I felt about the events that transpired in the Queendom of Falena.

All Genso Suikoden fans would know that tragedy isn't exactly a new concept in this series. After all, if you did play everything, you'd be overly exposed to hundred year wars and the like. V's defining points, however, are its in-depth characterizations that no other Suikoden has ever explored. You will be emotionally reeled in.

This game is so damn good (and I would even go so far as say that it's arguably the best Suikoden ever) but the thought of replaying it — or even just watching the opening FMV — hurts! It's interesting to note, though, that V marks the 10th year anniversary of the Suikoden series.

COMPLETION TIME: 50-60 hours
HIGHEST LEVEL ACHIEVED: 50+ (Hero), the rest were in their 40s when I finished the game
RATINGS: Gameplay 10; Battle 10; Story 10; Visuals 9; Characters 10; Sounds 10; Replay Value 5

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