latest Suikoden series

User Rating: 10 | Suikoden V PS2
Suikoden V is a console role-playing game and thus shares many traits with them. The player controls the Prince and travels with them around the world map, advancing the plot by completing tasks and talking with other characters. The Prince can also recruit new characters to his cause, which often involves a short sidequest. In towns, the player can gather information, sharpen character's weaponry, learn new skills, and buy equipment; wilderness areas generally feature random encounters with monsters.

The battle system to Suikoden V features six person parties in combat rather than the four person parties of Suikoden IV, reversing a much-decried change. Each character is individually controllable, as well (as opposed to Suikoden III). A variety of statistics in Suikoden V determine in-game combat ability. Like in Suikoden III, there exists a skill system in Suikoden V; for instance, the "Stamina" skill increases a character's hit points. Different characters have affinities for different skills. Only two skills can be equipped to each character, though they can be switched at any time between battles. If all six characters lose all their hit points and are thus incapacitated, it is game over and the player must restart. Exceptions exist for certain plot battles in which winning is optional; the player can lose and the plot continues on, albeit in a slightly different fashion.

The characters can be setup in a variety of fighting formations across a roughly 6x4 grid. Each formation allows the party to gain increased statistics, such as increased defense or increased attacks, occasionally offset by decreased stats in other categories, as well as a special attack based on the formation. New formations are acquired over the course of the game. Like in previous games, some characters have special cooperative attacks that can potentially do more damage. These attacks often do more damage than normal and cannot miss, but they also cannot receive critical damage bonuses and cannot hit targets multiple times. An auto-battle function is enable as well for quickly breezing through easy battles.

Characters that don't participate directly in combat usually offer other services to the Prince, such as running a shop, giving clues for potential recruits, or aiding in the strategic war battles. Additionally, up to four characters may be kept in reserve of the current party; some non-combat characters, when in the reserve, offer minor benefits such as healing after battle or a greater chance of finding a special item after battle.

Runes, the source of all magic in the world of Suikoden, are handled similarly to other Suikoden games. Characters have a certain number of spell usages per "spell level;" for instance, a character with four level 1 spell slots and a Water Rune could cast "Kindness Drops" (the level 1 Water Rune spell) four times. Other runes offer different benefits, and some may be used as often as desired.

The strategic war battles from earlier Suikodens return for major army clashes, in real-time with more freedom of movement than the hex and square based earlier installments. Instead, the battlefield is now continuous. Both land and naval battles exist in Suikoden V; some battles even combine both elements. The system is analogous to Rock, Paper, Scissors, where cavalry beats infantry, infantry beats archers, and archers beat cavalry; at sea, ram ships are strong against archery ships, infantry ships defeat rams, and archery ships beat infantry ships. There are also additional benefits to having certain characters in certain units, such as magical attacks using runes or leadership bonuses. A few special units exist as well in beaver units and dragon cavalry units, which can travel on both sea and land.

Suikoden V also contains a number of minigames, including, but not limited to, fishing, accessible through the character Subala, and Blind Man's Bluff, a card game that Linfa plays.