== SUIKODEN II ==
Suikoden 2 is a role playing game published and developed by Konami and it has to be one of the rarest PSX games ever. It is also one of the best games I have ever played. The Suikoden series has always been in the shadows of the Final Fantasy series. The Suikoden series for me has been much better. I'm a massive RPG fan and a big Final Fantasy fan but the only thing I love more is the Suikoden games. Suikoden 2 has a vast amount of things you can do as well as find and recruit over 108 characters, lots of different battle types and it also features one of the most addictive stories to a game. Suikoden 2 is only available for the Playstation One and its very hard to get hold of in the UK. The game is also available for download on the web for a PS1 emulator for PC.
=== STORY ===
In the game you play as a young 15 year old boy who's life is about to take an unexpected turn. One day this young boy is with his best friend camping out with the youth brigade of the Highland Army but suddenly the camp is attacked in the night and Hero (your character) and his friend Jowy must escape. Hero and Jowy both get separated after jumping off a cliff into the river to avoid being killed in the surprise attack. Hero is found and forced to be a slave for several days. Jowy returns and they escape back to their hometown with a bunch of travelers. Things get worse for Hero and Jowy as they reappear back in their hometown where there not welcome. The pair are sentenced to death along with Hero's sister Nanami. Luckily they are rescued by the group of mercenaries that used Hero as a slave. Little did Hero and Jowy know that from this day their lives were going to drift apart as they both fight for the opposite side. Now Hero must recruit and build up his army and face the threat of his former best friend who also has built up his army. What is install for Hero after being betrayed by his best friend and can he find the answers he desires. The story is full of betrayal, murder, love, hate and every other emotions that are possible.
=== GAMEPLAY ===
Suikoden 2 is a 2D RPG in which are probably the best there is and they really don't make them like they did. The game is full with lots of different bits. Overall there are over 108 different characters that you can actually recruit. You can travel the whole world of Suikoden to find these unique characters but to have them join your cause you must do something for them if they require it. Some characters are recruited normally as you play through the game but other characters will ask for things or need you to do something for them. Some of the characters can be missed as well. There are actually 108 proper characters which are called the 108 Stars Of Destiny. Getting all these will result in bonuses including the best ending. Secret characters are there to use and for fun. Not all of the characters will fight for you because some of the characters are just people who want to live their lives that cant fight but will help in anyway they can. Some characters will let you play mini games with them and do other bits.
For over 108 characters you must be thinking where can they go? Well the answer is your new castle. You will acquire a castle that is classed as headquarters and the people you recruit will end up there. As you get more characters your castle grows bigger and looks better. There will also be many battles in the game that range very differently to most RPG's. Suikoden 2 has turn based fights and the best thing about this is that you can take 5 characters with you at any time and along with yourself they will fight for you under your control. You encounter battles randomly as you travel enemy territories such as forests, caves, castles, prisons and many more. These aren't the only battles you will face because there are also one on one battles. One on one battles are my personal favourites because its your character versus whom ever. There isn't an awful lot of these battles but they really are intriguing to say the least. You are given three options which are defend, attack or special attack. Each one of these is strong versus another. For example if I use special attack and they use attack then I get the hit but if they use defend whilst I use the special attack then they counter my attack. You also have to listen to what your enemies say in these battles because you can work out their next move. Suikoden 2 also features map battles. These are fantastic and very entertaining. It will be your army against Jowy's army or who ever is in command of their army. These are strategic battles in which you have to move certain places at certain times.
In Suikoden 2 you will visit hundreds of places such as towns, villages and much more. There are also secret places where some secret characters may be hiding. There are also different shops in the game such as item shops, weapon shops, inns, pubs and even rune masters. Each character that fights in battle for you can have their weapons upgraded, runes attached, equipment changed and much more. There are lots of different runes in the game which hold magic powers. These powers can be used in battles to unleash magic and destroy the enemy or help overcome them. Suikoden 2 also features mini games like cooking, rock climbing, cards and a few more. You can even load data from the first Suikoden game to get a secret mission half way through the game and so you can use the main character from the first game to help you. Suikoden 2 features a world map in which you must travel around. Traveling around the world map will lead you into random battles against enemies. You can only explore so much of the map at first but it all depends on where you are in the game.
The main story mode is easy to follow especially at first and Suikoden 2 is the type of game where you must read absolutely everything or you might get stuck. There isn't too much in terms of side quests in the game except for a few which lead to recruiting characters. I do think Suikoden 2 is better known for all of the characters and the superb story. There are over 300 different enemies in the game from soldiers, monsters to big bosses and the gruesome final boss which is very impressive. One of my all time favourite bosses returns in this game and hes a vampire called Neclord. The game runs smoothly with very few loading screens unless its a big battle but it still doesn't take long. Also you can run as well as walk which is great and even better with a certain character. Story mode is the only game mode available but it can be played numerous times because there are so many different endings.
=== GRAPHICS & SOUND EFFECTS ===
The graphics are quite good for an oldie. As I said Suikoden 2 is 2D and it works really well and is probably one of the reasons its popular with Suikoden fans. The characters in the game that you can recruit are all brilliantly designed to detail. You can tell the characters that will join you just by looking at them because they look fantastic. Also the bosses are beautifully designed as are the normal enemies/monsters. The towns and villages look okay but there are a few that look similar to each other. Same goes with the different forests you visit and sometimes its hard to tell which your in. When the game was first released it looked brilliant and I hardly faulted it. However with the modern stuff looking great its hard to say how good the graphics are.
I will never ever say that the sound effects are bad no matter how many years have past. Suikoden 2 features the best music I have ever heard in any game I have ever played. Its simply fantastic and there are hundreds of different tracks. There is also numerous soundtrack CD's available to buy. Also other sound effects to the game are very good especially the different battle effects. The most impressive being the turn based battles with 6 members including yourself. I did also think sound effects to the one on one battles stood out more. The only downside to the sound effects is the sound that is played in the very few movies from the game as it is atrocious but don't let that put you off at all.
=== DIFFICULTY & LONGEVITY ===
To be perfectly honest I only ever found Suikoden 2 hard when I first started playing role playing games. Its not a hard game at all and to be fair its quite simple now I'm more experienced. The hardest part to the game would probably be the boss battles or the one on one battles. Also the map battles could be a little tricky at first. The controls are very simple and you barely use all the buttons on the controller. The story is very simple to follow. I would say for the first few playthroughs that finding all the characters on your own is virtually impossible because there are a couple where backtracking is needed. Other than that its an easy game especially for those hardcore RPG fans.
Longevity for me is brilliant because there are multiple endings and you need to playthrough the game numerous times to achieve them. Its also the type of game where you can play again and find out different bits that you never actually did on previous playthroughs. There is so much you can do in the game and so much fun available. The game can literally last a lifetime. However one playthrough would probably last 40 hours if your new to the game and possibly 25 if you know what to do and where to go. I can manage about 15 hours because I have played it that many times and know the game word for word. Definitely a game worth playing numerous times.
=== PROS ===
*Over 108 different characters to find and recruit.
*Lots of different towns, monsters, mini games and much more available.
*An enthralling story that offers lots of emotion and it lures you in.
*The music to the game is brilliant and the sound effects are good as well.
=== CONS ===
*Dated graphics could put some gamers off slightly.
*The game can be very addictive and time seems to go fast when playing.
*Some annoying characters that don't make sense. For example a squirrel wearing a cape.
*Really expensive to buy and very hard to find.
*No multiplayer options.
=== FINAL THOUGHT ===
Suikoden 2 is fantastic and probably will always be my favourite RPG. The leveling up system works tremendously well and the highest level you can reach is 99. The only way you will reach level 99 is if you play the game for just fighting and gaining levels because it will take hours upon hours to reach it. Suikoden 2 is the best in the series and many Suikoden fans would agree. Suikoden 2 has the best characters as well as the most interesting storyline. The Suikoden games slightly went downhill after the first two. Suikoden 3 was okay but Suikoden 4 pretty much ruined the franchise but then came Suikoden 5 in which the series had got slightly better. The downside I think with 3,4 and 5 was the fact it went 3D graphics. Its a shame really and looks like Suikoden fans will never get to see what happens because Suikoden 6 is still not here after five long years.
If you love the Final Fantasy games then I urge you to give this a try because its magnificent and could probably make you feel how I do about the game. Even if you love RPG's then this is definitely worth a try and I doubt you will be disappointed. I would seriously recommend the game especially if you like a good solid story that has lots of emotions put into it. The game manual to the game is quite good but nothing spectacular and the game also has an age rating of 15+ because of the strong violence and language throughout.
Now the price of the game is a massive disappointment. I bought the game many years ago from my local market for the small fee of just £5. However the game is extremely rare now and very hard to get hold of especially the UK version. Amazon barely have a copy of it and when they do its up for sale for around £150 for a single Playstation One game. It is a ridiculous amount of money for such an old game but deep down its worth every penny to me. I grew up playing this game and still play it now. I would have to also say that its probably better starting with the first Suikoden game but it doesn't make much difference because it still makes sense. Suikoden 2 is a brilliant role playing game that can offer you everything.
I would give Suikoden 2 the full on 10/10! Fantastic game that all RPG fans will adore!
Review also on Ciao under the username: MrBrightside1987!
I purchased Suikoden 2 after first playing Suikoden I, and I had high expectations for this game. Suikoden I was amazing, so I knew this game had big shoes to fill. By the end of the game, those shoes were filled! Suikdoen 2 is one of the best RPG's that I have ever played. It had a deep plot line with lots of twists and turns. There were many different emotions I experienced during the game, from sadness, happiness, excitement, anger, and surprise.
I don't want to spoil the plot, but I will go over the introduction of the story. You start as the main character, which you get to name. You are shown being part of the Unicorn brigade, and get to explore outside with your best friend, Jowy. You find out what you are doing there, and then go back to sleep. This is where the first twist of the plot begins. It turns out that your general tries to sacrifce your squad to further out his career. The main character and Jowy run away and jump into a river together, but are split up after they land. The two characters are seperated, and the story of your character begins.
The graphics in this game are a slight upgrade from Suikoden 1. The characters have more 3-D shading to them, and each character picture is a little more detailed. It still has all of the same camera angles and the same controls as the original Suikoden.
The fighting system is also just about the same. You have your six characters in the party, and some can attack from the back row, while some can only attack from the front. The weapon system is the same in which you find a blacksmith, and pay him money to sharpen your blade.
This game has a similar plot line and feel to Suikoden, but it takes it one step further and really gets deeper into the emotions of the characters. There are really very few, if any, slow moments of the game, as you will usually be on the edge of your seat.
I would suggest getting this game for anyone looking for an excellent RPG.