One of the greatest pleasures in my life is when I get my hands on the latest installment of one of my favorite video game franchises. That happened this weekend when I picked up a copy of Suikoden IV. The Suikoden series is my second favorite series only behind Final Fantasy. As a matter of fact, Suikoden II is my favorite video game of all time. That should tell you how great of a game it was. The fact that Suikoden II is going for upwards of $100 a pop on E-bay for a PSOne game should also tell you how good it was. Having said that Suikoden IV was a little bit of a letdown.
What Was Wrong: Suikoden IV was way too short. II took over 30 hours. III took over 40 hours. IV can legitimately be beaten in 20 hours. That’s too short for an RPG (Role Playing Game) for the PS2. In each of the Suikoden’s the main goal is always to recruit 108 characters. Some are a little more challenging than others. The majority of the characters in IV were too easy to recruit. The majority of them you just walk up to them and they join you. The cut scenes ended so abruptly it became an annoyance throughout the game. No fade to black just END. The game takes place 100 years before the events in Suikoden I. If I didn’t look that up online I would have never have known. Nowhere in the game that I saw was that ever mentioned. They knocked down the members of your party from 6 to 4, which is ok, but if you’ve played previous Suikodens you have to rethink your whole strategy now. In previous Suikodens you could tell the combo moves just by putting the people in the same party. With IV you have to guess which party members may have a combo move then wait as they level up for their combo move to develop if they have one. Lastly and most importantly there is no file transfer function. In Suikodens II and III you could upload your saved game file from the previous game and unlock hidden parts of the game. No such feature in IV. Driving the ship in the game is very difficult at first. Like Game Informer magazine said, “it’s like driving a damp sweater”. IV was also too linear. III had diverging storylines with varying endings, which made for great replay value. Oh and one last thing to the Konami developers. Please for the love of God bring back the cooking mini-game. Suikoden fans know what I’m talking about.
What Was Right: The graphics on IV are the best that have ever been on a Suikoden game. Very crisp and very fluid. The characters are more lifelike than they have been in previous Suikoden games. The nautical setting is one that I have not seen in an RPG, plus it makes me go around talking like a pirate, which annoys the wife. Finally, we have voiceovers in a Suikoden game. Lastly having a massive ship as your expandable HQ was genius.
Final Recommendation: At $40 only for the hardcore Suikoden fans. This should have been a $20 game.