PSLS Retrospective – Suikoden
Suikoden III is the first game of the series to jump up from the PS1 to the PlayStation 2 and released on October 22nd, 2002. At the time of its release the PS2 had been on store shelves for 2 years and was really starting to come into its prime. While Suikoden III shares similiarities with the first two games in the series, it also begins a lot of firsts for the series.
The story in III uses what is known as the “Trinity Sight System;” where instead of controller a single character, players are given the ability to play every chapter from 3 main characters points of view. This shows the story from three different viewpoints, giving each scene multiple perspectives and really building on the story. There are three struggling factions in Suikoden III, each with their own divisions and politics,. Hugo of the Karaya Clan is a Grasslander, Chris Lightfellow is a Knight of the merchant nation of Zexen, and Geddoe is a member of the Harmonian Southern Frontier Defense Force, keeping watch for the huge nation of Harmonia on the Grasslands area. Unlike the silent Hero’s of the past two games, each main character in the game has their own personality and dialog, further enriching the story.
Combat in the game takes a bit of twist from the previous games as well. You still control 6 characters in your party but now they are split into 3 groups of 2 and you also have a party aid who cannot fight but offers bonuses after battle like automatically healing your party some. An example of how this works would be if you set a character in the back row to cast a spell, the character in the front row would automatically defend. This takes some getting used to but makes for a bit more strategy when deciding how to pair up people in your party. Characters in your party can also learn specific skills such as Parry, Dodge, Speed, etc. which can then be leveled up using experience you gain in battle. This gives the player an option of choosing how he wants each character to play. Runes still play an important part as you can assign characters different runes and then level those runes up to gain more spells.
Army battles return from the first two games but this time they are played on a graph, similar to most Strategy games. Your units has a certain amount of turns and when they get close to an enemy can trigger a battle which plays similar to regular battles only sped up a bit. You can also gain defensive bonuses by having the unit in the woods or a castle. Each side is also presented with a strategist and the amount of moves you have at your disposal depends on the level of your strategist.
Mini-Games such as cards and horse racing make a return as well as building up your own castle by recruting more characters. The soundtrack in Suikoden III features great music, especially the main theme Ai wo Koete (Exceeding Love) which is performed by Himekami.
Suikoden III is a very solid addition to any game library and is my own personal favorite Suikoden title for the way its story was told through 3 different sets of eyes. The game improved on the combat system and of course the graphics with a step up to the PS2.
Opinions Around the Web
G4 TV (100) – Sadly, true quality storytelling is extremely rare in this age of overblown and pretentious stories so commonly found in the “Final Fantasy” series and its imitators. Suikoden 3 is a welcome and finely-crafted exception.
Game Informer (100) – This game does what all RPGs (and good books) set out to do: harness your emotions. I couldn’t recomend it more.
IGN (94) – One of the most enjoyable, deep, and pleasing Role-Playing adventures I’ve ever experienced, Konami’s three-time lucky masterpiece is as close to perfection as I could have hoped.