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   Suikoden II - Staff Retroview  

The Second Army
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

BATTLE SYSTEM
INTERACTION
ORIGINALITY
STORY
MUSIC & SOUND
VISUALS
CHALLENGE
Easy
COMPLETION TIME
30-60 Hours
OVERALL

4.0/5

Rating definitions 

   The second Suikoden game comes very similar to the first game, but with many improvements. Virtually every part of the game has been improved from the war battle system to the story. Even the visuals and music have been upgraded. Those that have a save file from the end of Suikoden I are also treated to additional scenes and characters. Suikoden II once again follows a boy who is promoted to the head of an army to defeat the ruler of the country of his origin. Over the course of the quest, the player is able to collect over 108 allies to aid them.

   Normal battles are fought in much the same way as they were in the original with the exception of being able to equip multiple runes. Runes allow characters to gain special powers such as the ability to use magic, gain immunity to certain elements, or use spacial skills. Another special feature of Suikoden II's battle system is the ability for two or more characters to join together and perform a special attack. Duels remain the same and are simply a deadly form of rock, paper, scissors. Military battles, however, have been improved upon significantly. They now take place in tactical fashion with each unit being comprised of three characters which effect statistics and abilities. Overall, battles are very well done.

Waterfall under the sunset Waterfall under the sunset

   Despite the game restricting character levels significantly, it never uses this power to case trouble for the player. Most normal battles can be finished in a turn or two. Boss fights are more difficult, but there are plenty of runes that can make up for that and make those easy as well. Tactical battles are the hardest due to randomness and luck playing an important factor, but they aren't very difficult if the player has gathered enough allies.

   Thanks to the ability to run easier and better designed menus, Suikoden II's interface is an improvement over the original, though it still has its flaws. Localization has made some progress too, but there is still the occasional mistranslated or completely untranslated dialog box here and there.

   Suikoden II is almost an exact copy of Suikoden I with improvements so it's not very original. It is, however, one of the first converted data games which allow the player to bring some info from the first game to the second. The tactical battle system is fairly original as well, but neither can make up for the fact that it's almost the exact same game, not that that's a bad thing.

Whoa Whoa

   The storyline is the part of the game that seems to have been primarily focused upon. The main story itself is better and flows much more smoothly than the first one. The largest improvement in this area is the boost in character development. With over 108 characters, it is obvious that a good deal of them are going to be outside of the story's focus. To make up for this, the main character can hire a detective to gather information and backstory about each character.

   The second installment of the Suikoden series takes much longer to complete than the first one does, about twice as long in fact. This is most likely due to the new tactical battle system, more dialog, and characters that are hidden better. It's possible to rush through the game in about thirty hours if optional characters are avoided, but it is likely to take twice as long for those that want to have everyone in their party and get the best ending.

   The music has been improved as well. The best from the first game has been remixed and added to a large amount of good new tracks. They often enhance the atmosphere, especially the new boss music. The Tactical battle music is probably the most impressive new track and is beautifully done. Sound effects are very similar to those found in the first game with a few minor improvements and are decent.

   Most of the visuals in Suikoden II are only a minor improvement over the first game. However, in addition to these minor upgrades come FMVs. Most of the FMVs aren't very long or incredible for that matter, but they are a nice touch and make high level spells and such look very good.

   Suikoden II has many improvements over the original and they show. The second game is much better than the first one was. Though it still lacks character development for most of its characters and relies somewhat heavily on knowledge of the first game for what little there is, it is still well done overall. I recommend it to most RPG lovers, especially those who enjoy strategy games too. Just keep in mind that you need to have beaten the first game to get the full story. It's not necessary to play the game, but it helps.

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