Thursday, 5 September 2013

Old Games Review: Suikoden 2.



I had heard about Suikoden 2 a long time before I actually played the game, I actually heard about it when it first came out but I only played it recently and I am quite glad I played it now instead of when I was much younger since I can appreciate the game way more than I could when I was younger.
Story

Suikoden 2 follows the story of Riou and his best friend Jowy who are both soldiers working for Highland. They get separated early on though and follow different paths to reach the same goal.
The story in Suikoden 2 is pretty damn impressive and follows many different stories at the same time, players not only have to save the world but they have to be political as well, unlike most other games where its simply the hero fighting some giant evil demon who threatens the world, the story here is much more grey as both sides of the war think they are doing what's best for the world.

Some characters are bat-shit crazy though.
With a very grey world to live in the game tries to install the player with a sense of choice, you often have decisions to make about which course to take in the game. Will you save the rebel camp or simply stand back and let them die? will you go to liberate a town or simply do nothing?

Sadly while the game lets you choose which decision to make, in the end you have to always follow a rather linear path in the game, for example you will always save the rebels and liberate the camp, the game simply does not move forward until you choose the option it wants you to. and because of that I get frustrated every time someone asks me for my opinion on the situation knowing it will only go one way.

The agony of choice.
Aside from the rather annoyingly linear story, the game seems to drag too much at times, you literally visit the same town 4-5 times each time conquering it then freeing it from the other side's control so you end up revisiting many places, after my 3rd time in Green hill I wondered why the hell I have been here so often by now. Overall the game could have been shortened a bit and had a few more side quests or perhaps some branching story lines where your choices matter instead of dragging it's feet at times.
Characters

Suikoden 2 has probably one of the largest group of characters in any game, with over 108 recruitable personalities you'll get a lot of characters to play around with. Some of them join you in combat while others provide useful assistance in other ways like opening shops or information on finding more allies.

Similar to Chrono Cross though, not everyone really is relevant to the story, sure that Wolf you recruited early game is cute to have around but he doesn't do anything for you story-wise and neither does 70% of the people you recruit, and since the best ending of the game requires you to get all 108 characters it's quite a chore to get them all, especially once you make a party that you like and want to stick with.

Probably the most popular guys in the game.
Still the game does try to balance this out by making certain characters unavailable for you at certain points in the game, thus forcing you to use different party set ups, in fact in one fight you're forced to use 18 characters and since I had recruited quite a lot of people I was quite glad I could make strong teams. Still most of the time it's rather troublesome to do all the leg work to get some guy you'll never use in a fight.

Gameplay

Suikoden 2 has 3 modes of game play you'll experience, one is the typical RPG style of gaming where you use 6 characters to fight a group of monsters or a boss, this is the most common combat type you'll experience and it's quite well done.


Overall its a decent combat system, with such a large party you can do many combos and have a variety of tactics you can use, you can make a party full of physical fighters and just go brute force over anyone, Or you'd prefer to use magic in which case you can use Rune holders and make combination spells to devastating effect. Overall combat in S:2 is enjoyable and fun, bosses are challenging without being impossible to defeat and even regular combat forces you to think about how much magic and damage you want to take before your next boss fight.

Next mode of combat is the Duel system where two Characters face off against each other for story purposes using a 3 command system of Attack, Defend and Wild Attack in a very scissor-paper-stone type gameplay. It's very rare though and happens maybe 5 times in the whole game so its hardly anything to write about.


Lastly we have the Map battles, where its usually two armies facing each other, its almost epic because you get the feel of clashing with the other side usually to control some key location, sadly in almost all the battles one side will retreat after a few turns or the fight ends for story purposes. So while these fights are occur quite often 90% of the time they are out of your control and don't really matter.

Conclusion

Despite my less than flattering review, I very much enjoyed this game and can understand why it has such a huge fanbase, with a strong story, good combat system and some genuinely interesting characters new players are in for quite a ride. I just wish it could have a few things tweaked and improved and it would have been perfect, for now though I can only give this game a 4 out of 5 and still recommend it to everyone.