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    dkirschner's Suikoden V (PS2)

    [March 13, 2013 03:32:30 AM]
    Turns out I really dislike this game. Shortly after my last post about it, I got to what I thought was the end. "It's the final battle, Prince!" No, that was a dirty lie, and everything after that was terrible, terrible, terrible. The story goes so far downhill at the same ridiculous pace that you begin accumulating meaningless party members. How long does the game drag on? I'm at like 15 hours later and it's still a'goin, though I'm pretty sure I'm at the actual end now. I think. Or close. But I quit anyway, so it doesn't really matter. I looked on YouTube to see the ending, but there are hours of "ending" footage, which I assume means that if I did invest the rest of time to grind characters and complete the game, I would have to spend even more watching over-dramatic cut scenes with crappy voice acting to resolve a story that lost my interest a long time ago.

    For starters, the story does turn to waste. This game was definitely front-loaded with goodness. After this 2/3 point or so, is go from town to town rallying the leaders of those towns to join your cause so you can build an army. Then there's a betrayal, which didn't make any sense and was really stupid. The characters in this game are all blind to their ideals and it's just unbelievably silly how steadfast they are. Like, this guy that everyone hates took over the throne and thus gets to command the Queen's Knights, and all this and that. And everyone's just, "Well he's the King now and I'll die for the King." And I'm like, yeah, but you hated him. And they're like "Well he's the King now and I'll die for the King." All the characters are like that, just blind with devotion or whatever it is they believe in, duty, fealty, country, etc. I tend to dislike that in people in real life, and I hate it when I'm subjected to it in RPGs.

    So the deteriorating story goes hand in hand with collecting more and more one-dimensional characters. The more I collected, the more I realized the most decent ones were the main characters. Most of the additional characters are meaningless. Most weren't funny, charming, intelligent, or much anything positive. There were at least three of the males who were straight up womanizers. I understand one character for the stereotype, but three? Come on! Again, I hate that in real life, and I hate even more being subjected to it when I'm trying to enjoy myself in a game. 75% of the stuff out of Kyle's mouth was leering at women. 75% of stuff out of Roy's mouth was about trying to get Lyon to go out with him, and he about fights the Prince over her, and when she gets hurt, he's terribly upset about it. Oh, no, she never even talked to you Roy, why are you obsessed with her? Leave her alone maybe. And there was one other guy with stupid long sideburns who 75% of the time was talking about "babes." So obnoxious. I know my problem with this. It's not necessarily because there are men obsessed with girls. That's life, right. It's that girls are obsessed with men too, though of course this isn't represented in the game, unless the girl comes off as slutty, which does happen (Miakis or Lyon yelling at her calling her a hussy). And it's that sex and romance and relationships and attraction are handled in such a juvenile childlike way. "Tee-hee," "babes bro." Anyway, ranting...

    The end end, or what I think now is the end, will require such a massive grindfest and is such a time sink that I lost whatever motivation I had left to stick it out. I have probably 40 characters, and the end is the first time in the game where you actually make use of more than 1 party (of 6 characters). So I went through the whole game (well, once I realized that you could choose more than the default party, which was about 20 hours in) went through the whole game only leveling like 10 characters. Why would I need more? Oh of course, at the end, I need EIGHTEEN strong characters who can hold their own to fill three teams of 6 that split up in a massive dungeon with no save points and surprise bosses. Fantastic! So much fun! I would love to go grind levels for characters that I don't care about with this boring combat system, and then grind money to purchase super expensive armor and weapon upgrades for all of them. That sounds awesome. God knows how many more hours I would have to spend.

    I went through most of that ending dungeon once, which was fine, but then my weakest party, completely unprepared, unknowingly encountered a boss. There was no indication that there would be a boss there. No save point, after at least an hour of playing, at the end of this struggle to make 3 teams go through this giant maze. I just walked forward, I can't retreat. It's a freakin boss. Utterly impossible. I looked it up online later because I thought it may be an instance of "you're supposed to die here" but it wasn't. Turns out EACH party has to face a boss, alone, without saving, after the 1-hr dungeon already. No thanks.

    One odd thing about the game is that you can level up skills from E to S, and then you can learn special skills. So, I never figured out how to level up a skill past C. No NPC would teach me, and I highly doubt that I missed an item, or several items, to teach trainers to skill me up further, since they'd teach me up to C from the very beginning. I found a ton of special skills too, and no one could ever equip one. I couldn't figure out how to do it, and again, I know I didn't just miss it. Maybe a special NPC somewhere, I have no idea. But with the close attention that I always pay to how to do this or that in games, especially RPGs (I have to know all the systems), I find it highly problematic that there was no tutorial, no direction, no nothing about how to level up skills.

    Anyway, that's all I can think of. Don't recommend, unless you know you'll like it. I did enjoy it about 2/3 of the way through, but the last 1/3 was torture, and I don't even know how much longer I'd have to play to finish.
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    [March 3, 2013 08:30:20 PM]
    This is definitely one for the story. Still enjoying that aspect. Battles are tougher, but still usually just "auto-able." I did discover last night though why battles appeared to be getting tougher. I'm 26 hours in and I JUST realized that I had a reserve crew of like 15 other characters to fill my party of 10 (6 active members and 4 extras). I've been playing the entire game only with what story characters go along with me! I've fought entire dungeons with just me and Lyon, autoattacking. Turns out that this WHOLE time I could have had a full part of 6 characters fighting, plus 4 in waiting. Haha. Ooooh, Suikoden...

    The reason I never knew this is (a) the game never told me, (b) the instruction manual never told me, and (c) the Menu is clunky and not very user-friendly in general. There is an NPC you get eventually who you can talk to to change party members. If you talk to her, the menu displays the members of your current party, say, David, Lyon, ---, ---, ---, --- where the --- are empty slots. Then on the left-hand side of the screen, it says Reserves or something like that, and it is completely empty, all --- dashes. So I just thought that I didn't have any reserves because the list was empty. But as I've progressed I've 'befriended' a bunch of allies, and I started wondering where in the world they were going. Were they in my castle? Could I use them? Did 'befriend' mean just in terms of the story or did they move to my castle? Where are they physically? What happened to all the items I gave them when they were in my party? So last night before heading off on a mission, I went to this NPC and selected one of the empty --- spaces in my party list. Lo and behold, THEN the list of reserves appears! So now after 26 hours, I have a full party for the first time. I imagine the game will go back to being super easy. Maybe I'll revert to handicapping myself for some challenge. But, I really wish the game had said something about how to add characters, a quick little tutorial once the option becomes available. My main characters are in the high level 30s. All these great new reserve characters are like...8..19...14. But on the plus side they gain like 5 levels per battle when they're that low, so they'll be up over 30 in just a few minutes.

    I was also thinking about Japanese characters. Japanese games always have these wacky characters that oftentimes have baffling elements. Like this one guy I got, he has a bird on his head. Why? There's no explanation for it, just hey, he's a guy with a bird on his head. Another guy has a mohawk/rattail/mullet thing. No explanation. Just hey, we like 80s hair metal, so this guy will have really stupid hair. Then there is a race of beavers. Beavers. Why? Well, I guess because the world is penetrated by a river and they need dams, and beavers build dams, so we'll have a race of beavers. The Elder beaver's name is Fuwalafuwalu. I don't know where that came from either. I dunno, these kinds of things make Japanese RPGs just really...silly at times. I'm not bashing silliness. I like silliness, but maybe just the way they do silly in many RPGs like this is too far silly, where for me it crosses over into stupid range. Like really, I want to know why he has a bird in his hair. And why there are sentient beavers. Without explanations of these things, I just say...ok [sigh] and shake my head in confusion.

    That's it for now. Dunno how long this one is. Howlongtobeat's main story completions are between 24 and 34 hours, so I may be coming up to the final stretch. Sometimes the site's numbers are low for me though, so I'm going to guess it'll be under 40. Probably finish it up by the end of this coming weekend. Then I dunno what to play. Either start on Persona 4 or clear out some computer games. A is coming to visit in 3.5 weeks, so I'd like to have nothing left hanging when she gets here. Smart planning...
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    [February 24, 2013 07:41:36 PM]
    I've played one other Suikoden game in the past. I think it was 4. I enjoyed it, remember a lot of political intrigue, and a bunch of characters in my party. This one isn't necessarily what I remember the old one to be like. A quick summary: political intrigue is there, battles are a joke, towns are too big, there is no map, NPCs don't tell you much, there are a lot of characters, but I don't think I've gotten any of them.

    To go into the story would be really complicated. Suffice it to say, you play as Prince [yourname] of the Queendom of Felona. You travel around with various members of the Royal Family and the Royal Knights, and I suppose soon enough, other adventurers and people you meet along the way. I've discovered in my travels thus far that almost every important character I meet knows me already because the entire world seems deeply inbred. They all seem to be related to me, or to another family that is vying for the throne. I bet the two families themselves are related and that will be a big reveal later. I even have proof of incestual tendencies, believe it or not. There is a part where you have to escort your little sister, the Princess, to two holy sites to perform a ritual before she is married (oh yeah, to a member of that rival family! - so they will intermarry, if they haven't already). One of the rituals involves a cleansing, a bath or something. Only the royal women are allowed in, no males, no peeking. Prince [yourname] says "Ew, I don't want to peek anyway." The Princess, offended, says "What's that supposed to mean?!" Then Sialeeds, your AUNT says, "Well, I won't mind if you peek a little!" Aaah! The Princess says "Sialeeds!" Prince [yourname] says pretty much what he said earlier, and Sialeeds says something like "What?! I really don't mind! [wink]" Lady, you're his mom's sister.

    Anyway, the story is quite good. Political intrigue games often fall flat because they suffer from "who-the-hell-cares" syndrome. This one though, so far, has made me interested in the characters because it follows them through more of their daily lives, and you listen to lots of dialogue between them, which is alright, but they feel like rather full people. I think I've clocked 9 or so hours, and not a whole lot has happened in the grand scheme of things, but it feels like a lot has. One little event, like these "Sacred Games" to choose a husband for the Princess, is stretched out to take hours. Explore the city, discover a traitorous plot, meet one of the gladiators, rescue a kidnapped woman (all part of traitorous plot), watch the games, watch more of the games, TWIST ENDING, return to castle, go through purification rituals, get to the bottom of the TWIST ENDING. It's very well done and all feels relevant, not like busy work or pointless side quests.

    One of the reasons I know I don't feel like I'm doing pointless side quests is, well, because I'm not. In Suikoden games, you can collect 108 Stars, or characters, to join your party. Some of these you get along the way, and many others you have to go out of your way to acquire, do tasks for them, quests, discover places, dungeons, and so on. You clearly don't need 108 characters, so anything over what the main story takes you through is technically unnecessary busy work. Unless you play the game to collect characters, which I don't. So I do feel like I'm moving right along, which is great. This is certainly the current fictional universe I'll be wrapped up in for a while.

    The other thing I'll comment on are the battles. They are easy. Ridiculously easy. Like I said, I'm 9 or so hours in, and I've used two healing potions. No healing spells, no other healing. Two potions. There's an 'auto' feature, which I WISH was just like the one in Grandia 3 where it would auto-attack the entire battle for you, and you could set some AI parameters. But (un)fortunately you have to click 'auto' each turn, and it's only basic attacks, no special parameters. In Grandia 3, I remember doing work and reading while battles were resolving themselves. I thought I would get to do the same here, but nah. While cities so far are stupidly big, the dungeons or woods where fights occur are small, so there's not too many battles to be fought, which is good. Anyway, besides trying things out the first few fights, I've just used 'auto' for every single battle and I barely even get hit. My cats could play this game.

    Your characters level up really fast too, so I don't think it's possible to fall behind in levels. Therefore, avoiding fights when possible is a valid strategy. You level up when you get 1000 XP, and higher level enemies reward more XP. If you're like 10 levels below an enemy, you're going to gain a few levels every battle. It's...easy. There are these cool formations that I like. You find them in the world and they allow you to place your characters differently on the battlefield, giving bonuses to stats depending on the formation. You can play to your characters' strengths and weaknesses since all characters have an attack range (Short, Medium, Long). Try to match formations with characters' ranges so that you have short attackers in the front, medium in the middle, etc. I haven't used any magic yet. Only basic attacks.

    Oh man, I hope this either stays so easy and continues to be 95% story and towns or if story decreases and exploring/combat increases, that the combat gets a little more challenging and thought-provoking. We shall see. Probably no time to play until perhaps Thursday night, or perhaps next week.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 24th, 2013 at 19:43:51.

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    dkirschner's Suikoden V (PS2)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got Bored

    GameLog started on: Sunday 17 February, 2013

    GameLog closed on: Tuesday 12 March, 2013

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Great so far! Lots of characters, intriguing plot, love when RPGs go into the humdrum daily lives of characters. Auto-battle option may be abusable. ---------- Ok, ended up hating it. Story divebombs, characters pointless, combat boring, drags on past its welcome.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstar

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    1 : Suikoden V (PS2) by CelestialWing (rating: 5)


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