While the story remains fresh at any time the fact that you don't have many places to move on ends up on too much backtracking, a little it's ok but this game gets really boring about in the middle because of that, specially if you choose to get all the 108 stars and improve the equipment of everyone.
Suikoden III visuals are ok for it's time, there wasn't many rpgs on ps2 back then, but are definately old by now, still there a couple of things that are quite good like the expressions, some of the rune summonings and powerful "magics" are ok too. Character's designs are nicely performed by the graphics also.
The game music it's a little repetitive but it's also ok, the opening it's the better song you'll listen in Suikoden III but in-game the music gets tedious at times, though the few songs are nice to listen and suit well the situations presented, too bad the game doesn't have voice acting neither, i know, there's a lot of characters but at least the main story should have some spoken dialogs...
But if you think that the visuals and sound are pretty much the most important thing in a game you're sure wrong, the game main essence is it's story, the motivation to keep playing among with the gameplay, if a game is senseless or not fun it just doesn't work, and Suikoden III story it's one of the best on any JRPG matching some of the Final Fantasy's and WRPG's (though you won't find many on consoles). And it's not what it's told what it's great, but the way it is told it's simply amazing and original... As i said on the intro you'll play from 3 different point of views, that are even confronted one with another, so you'll think as one group as the "bad guy" but when you play with him/her you realize that his intentions wasn't bad at all, and so on... The story keeps getting better and better with the time and even when you'll be tired of fighting the same enemies on the same locations after 60 hours, you'll still want to keep going thanks to it. To discover the secrets behind the plot and what will be of them after the last fight (yes you'll see a little of everyone at the end).
The main characters are only a few, the three heros and their groups that goes from 3 to 5 more allies, but as you've heard there are 108 to control in the end, and they are pretty diverse, there are knights, ninjas, dragons, hand made machines, bow and long range users, mages, storekeepers, and many more, it's an incredible group with plenty of professions trust me, i didn't play the previous Suikodens but it's a nice change to the regular 3-10 characters seen in most rpgs (PSOne Chrono Cross aside) and it manages to show pretty well the feelings and personalities of each one, some are cold, shy, others are funny, a pain in the back, mature, these and many other facets are shown by the group of fighters. Of course there's also variation on their equipments, but there are too many that just use the sword as weapon of choice. But, not all it's great, you'll end up the game with many questions about most of the characters, cause the game explains, but just a little bit of everyone... And there's also one of the main problems here: the enemies, there aren't too many, they are boring, and use a variation of the colours to make other similar monsters, there may be like 15-20 original types and the others are just "cousins" of them. Thankfully bosses have some exceptions but even on them it rules this problem, shame on Konami.
Battling them it's fun, you fight with a group up to six characters but on three pairs, each pair has a unique command, so you'll have to give only 3 orders, though everyone acts on the battlefield. You can equip different runes on each one that will give different advantages, like more offensive power, or just magic spells, some characters have 1 slots while others have 3 rune slots, depending on what kind of ability has each one (mages mostly have 3 slots and knights 1 or 2). Combats are random but they don't happen that much, at least not to the point that could bother you, and when the enemy is weaker you can release them at the start of the battle, saving lot of wasted time, that it's a nice feature, really. Boss fights on the other hand are challenging and fun, specially on the start when you're still on the learning curve, and the last battle it's one of the thoughtest i have found on RPG's even when i was prepared.
It's a long game, expect at least 60-70 hours, there were 86:08 for me but i did enjoy recruiting everyone and watching some of them on the castle, it's pretty fun to look how Budehuc will be growing with the time, you can even decore some things (put statues, plants or paints on the walls) and level as many characters as you want on the march, and discover their combined attacks. If you want you can try to play the last hours with another main character as the leader (i won't spoil much) but it's up to you, i don't think it's worth the effort.
This game has some flaws, but it has a lot of heart into it, and there's nothing compared to it when you talk about it's story, seriously other JRPG's should learn a few things of Suikoden III, you'll enjoy recruiting everyone and talking with them, but you won't enjoy much the fights after the first chapters, with some better enemies and less backtracking this game could have earned a higher note.
Overall: 8.4 > 8.5