Quite possibly one of the greatest videogames ever made.
Mr_RockMan wrote this review on .
Picking up a couple years after the first Suikoden the second takes place to the north of the land you saw in Suikoden I in an area known as the City-States of Jowston and it's neighboring monarchy the Kingdom of Highland.
Once again you take the role of "Insert name Here" character. This time you're the adopted son of a now deceased martial artist, who amazingly died of natural causes which is a rarity in RPG protagonist families. The game starts out with your character and his best friend Jowy preparing to return home after an training excursion for the Highland Army's Youth Brigade to which you both belong.
During the night however your own Kingdom's Prince slaughters the entirety of the brigade save for the two of you and plans to blame it on the City-State who Highland had just recently signed a peace treaty with. When the Prince and your commander discover you alive they chase you down and when the two of you escape and end up in the City-State, you're branded traitors and set up as the ones responsible for the slaughter of the other Youth Brigade Soldiers at the hands of the State Army.
What follows is another beautifully crafted story of betrayal and deception that eventually leads Highland and the Jowston City-States into war. The story of Suikoden II is an absolute masterpiece and has to be played to believed.
Gameplay wise not much has been changed overall. You'll still be gathering 108 recruits, getting a headquarters filled to the brim with shops and mini-games and forming an army. You still have 6 characters in battle, 3 per row with the same three weapon ranges. Rune magic has been tweaked however. Instead of just 1 Rune a character can now equip 3 runes. But, all three Runes draw from the same pool of MP per level of spell.
Say you have 4 MP for a level 3 Rune Spell, each spell only costing 1 MP per use. And you have a Lightning Rune and a Water Rune attached. Well, a level 3 Lighting Spell is going to cause a lot of damage, so that's good. But the Level 3 Spell for the Water Rune is the one that heals your entire party at once! What to do...what to do...
Needless to say MP management is crucial, so don't think you can just pile on the Runes and go to town.
The only other Gameplay related factor that got a revamp is the Large Scale War Battles. No more paper-rock-scissors with cute little soldiers slaughtering each other. Now your units are set up on field and these battles play out like a Strategy RPG. Which sounds fun until you realize that the majority of these battles are so story-driven that the outcome is almost certain no matter what you do. Main characters can still be permanently killed off in them though, so one still needs to be careful.
Graphically this game has improved leaps and bounds over the first one. It's still in 2D but the characters look better and move more fluidly. There are also story related animations for the sprites in this game which will really take you by surprise when you see them, because oftentimes such extreme detail isn't expected.
Musical scores don't get much better than this. The weakest part of the score are some of the dungeon themes, but once again the main theme and all story related themes are absolutely beautiful, as are most of the town themes in this game. It's so good that Rockman actually bought the soundtrack.
Also, if you have a save from the last save point in Suikoden I with all of that games 108 stars of destiny recruited you unlock a sidequest in Suikoden II that can net you the Hero from the first game as a recruit in your army. The best part is, he joins at the same level and with the same stats he has in that endgame save file!
Suikoden II really is one of the greatest RPG's I've ever played. I can't recommend this game enough.