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Suikoden III
Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
Konami is not a new name in the electronic game community. Other series such as Silent Hill and Castlevania are but a few titles under their belt, and with the latest installment of the Suikoden series, RPGers are given another chance to experience the grace of that which Konami pulled off so well on the original PlayStation. As you'll soon find, the transition from 2D to 3D was not an unfortunate one.

Suikoden III's character models have a perfectly suitable polygon count. When combined with the artistic style of Konami's designers and the sheer magnificence of the landscapes, one is hard-pressed to find anything wrong with the graphics. If I wanted to be critical, I might say that there were a few obvious billboarded textures in the background of some scenes, but such diagnoses are hard to make when you can't take your eyes off of the rest of the picture.

The camera-play was something to get used to, but after a few hours I was very pleased with it. As old habits die hard, you will find yourself wishing you could use that right analog or something and face the camera in a different direction, but after a while one will appreciate the picture-perfect quality of some maps as a result.

The music is another treat; more specifically, the cut scenes have excellent tracks complete with vocals in the same jap-anime style I remember from Suikoden I and II, and I was no less pleased with the sound effects.

One can rest assured that all of the aspects that are essential to the turn-based RPG are included in Suikoden III. Immediately when a new game is begun, one will notice the unique system used to express this saga, one which I'm surprised has not been used more. In Suikoden it is called the Trinity Sight System, which is a plot that is to be experienced from three very different characters, and three equally different points of view.

The player must complete all three chapters in each plot before continuing to the finale, and each chapter is between fifteen and twenty hours long, ample time for the player to become familiar with the characters' personalities and beliefs. Such is what makes taking Suikoden III to the very end so entirely compelling. Each character's plot has one side-story that can be accessed whenever the player wishes, giving the game another interesting lead.

The battle system is the same one that has been beat to heck in RPGs for years but with an interesting new formation, that is one of three ''pairs.'' These pairs are only given access to each others' items, and in the same manner both chars in a pair will attack at the same time. The strategy this entails is mildly different from what we are already used to, but was pleasing nonetheless.

The story is a grand one, and that is that. However one disappointment in its demonstration is the plots' linearity that is all too prevalent in RPGs already. At times the player is able to ''play'' the scenes by making decisions which make no difference in the outcome. One example is a conversation during Hugo's epic when he has finally been allowed into the courts to pass an envelope in a village different from his own, only to be met and turned away by a representative of the council. In this dialogue the player is allowed to argue and dismiss things said by this representative, but in the end you still give him the letter.

Suikoden III has a single difficulty setting but the hardness doesn't come from the design of the game, but from how much the player challenges him or herself. There are certain bosses that you can choose to attack (or choose not to). While they return worthy rewards, there is nothing that forces you to defeat them. This at least gives something to the game's replay value, and takes away from the linearity of the plot mentioned earlier...

Game Mechanics:
The left analog is used to control the player's movement and all of the other buttons are used for interaction with menus and battle screens (nothing new, really). During a battle the player can only make decisions for both of the members of each team, so you can choose if a pair will heal or attack, but you cannot let one character heal while the other attacks. Keep in mind there is more than one pair of characters in any one battle.

The after-effects of Konami's third installment of the Suikoden series are undeniably delightful to RPGers abroad; there is no doubt that one would have trouble finding a title lusher or more aesthetically creative on the PS2. Role-players, take out your wallet. This is definitely what you've been waiting for.

-Goat, GameVortex Communications
AKA Brandon Arnold

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