Suikoden Tactics was completely unoriginal, but still pretty fun.
Suikoden Tactics was pretty fun, despite being the most unoriginal game I've played in a while. Nothing about it was new to me, but the combat was still fun and I liked the storyline and how it finished up the story in Suikoden IV. The game could be a little difficult at times, I died atleast 40 times in this game. Luckily, you get to restart at your last battle with all the experience you earned during it, so you could keep fighting that one battle over and over again until you're strong enough to fight it. Sometimes though, winning or losing is completely out of your hands. Some missions require you to keep certain characters alive, but you'll often not have control over that character and he'll do something stupid and get himself killed. Sometimes he'll get himself killed during his first move. Suikoden Tactics can be frustrating at times, but it's never hard enough where you want to break your controller of your tv or anything.
Suikoden Tactics is...well a turn-based strategy game. The game is almost completely modeled after Final Fantasy Tactic's battle system, with a dash of Fire Emblem and Disgaea to boot. Each turn is determined by the character or enemy with the highest speed, no more rounds in this game. When you get control of a character, you get to move him across the board as far as you are allowed without penalties.
Once you moved your character, you may attack. When you attack, you can attack from the front with a higher chance of getting your attack blocked or dodged or even countered. You can attack from the sides or back to get a better advantage. You can use magic or skill attacks by equipping Runes. Each Rune has a special ability, some Runes can only support you in battle though.
A cool feature, which reminds me of Fire Emblem, allows you to chat with your team mates in battle. This gives your characters "good will" and sometimes grants the characters Unite Attacks. When characters have Good Will, then sometimes they'll assist each other in battle if they're close. For example, if you attack an enemy but it still has 20 HP left, then if your Good Will character is close enough to you and the enemy, he will finish up the job. Unite attacks are tricky though. When two characters have Unite Attacks, a green icon will appear next to them, you have to stand exactly in that green icon to activate the attack. Then you have a couple options where to use the attack, but the tricky thing is you can also damage your friends with it, and most of the time the Unite Attacks are no range at all or a HUGE range that will most likely attack a friend. So pulling off a Unite Attack was rare for me.
Another feature is the ability to transform the ground into elements. Each character have their element affinity. For example, Kryil was a Fire Element, so if you stands on a Red square, then he'll get bonus skills AND his HP will heal over time, but if he stands on a Blue (Water) square, then he'll be constantly damaged and will be weaker.
You gain experience for each task you do, the lower the level your character is then your enemies, the more experience you'll get. After each 1,000 experience, your character will gain a level, the experience spills over to your next level which is cool. After you win a battle you'll gain money and skill points (just like Suikoden III). You can buy and level up skills after the battle. There's only 8 slots for Skills to learn, but you can't equip all skills at once. After a certain amount of levels you'll slowly be able to equip a new skill over time.
There's four different types of characters in the entire game. A sword/spear wielder, a magic user, a bow user and "Support". Support is a character that can't fight at all, but they can support your characters. One character will boost the skills of your allies, another can use long range items, and another can dig to find hidden items.
You can recruit a bunch of characters in the game, although I don't think you can complete a "108 Stars of Destiny", but you wouldn't need to since that 108 Stars of Destiny was mapped out during Suikoden IV. Either way, you can still recruit a BUNCH of people. Sometimes it's overwhelming to the point where you'll never use some characters. Recruiting characters is often easy, but all are done through sidequests. Like in Fire Emblem, the characters you recruit can permanently die, so be care using them. Storylike characters never die though, so it's best just to use them within the game like I did.
If a recruit character does die in battle, an easy way to save them is to start over like you would have to in Fire Emblem, but the best way is to let all your characters die off. When all of your characters die, then you get to restart the battle without a pentatly. Actually, you're almost rewarded for dying, because you get to keep all the experience you earned in your losing battle.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Kyril, the son of a traveling mercenary. Kyrill and his father stumble upon a Rune Cannon, that transform humans into fish monsters. After Kryils father was tragically killed in battle by the Rune Cannon, Kryil goes on a quest to remove the Rune Cannons from this world.
The story was ok actually. I like how the game starts before the acts of Suikoden IV, showing how The Rune of Punishment started it's chain effect. After the first few prequel acts, the game then kick starts 7 years after Suikoden IV. Wile your main party are new characters, just about everyone else are returning characters from Suikoden IV, so it's best to play Suikoden IV beforehand.
I like the graphical style. The characters are celshaded, much like Tales of Symphonia. The characters show alot of emotion and action during dialog scenes, but for the most part the camera doesn't zoom in enough to show it completely. It's kinda like the dialog scenes of Fire Emblem while in combat, but not quite as bad. The monsters look ok, but you'll be fighting alot of the same thing during the game. Sometimes it's annoying, especially if you're fighting humans. There's no icon or color that separates your characters from enemy humans, so it can get a little confusing on the battle field until you get use to what your characters look like. Early on I was attacking some of my characters because they blended in.
One thing that totally creeped me out was the avatars for the townsfolk. For some reason, the developers thought it was a good idea to remove the eyes of the townsfolk. So you're basically talking to people with gaping holes where their eyes should be. It's freaking creepy.
The music is good stuff, although alot of it is recycled from Suikoden IV but that's expected. Most lines of dialog are voiced over. For the most part the voices are good, but a few characters, mostly the children, sound awful. This includes the main character Kyrill, who sounds like an adult attempting to sound like a kid that just hit puberty. It doesn't fit his look at all.
The world map is a standard dot-to-dot map pretty much directly ripped off from Final Fantasy Tactics. There's two sections on the world map. One is the island section that you traveled on during Suikoden IV. The other is the Kulook section that boarders the Scarlet Moon Empire from the first couple Suikoden games. This game does give you a better sense of the Suikoden geography though.
Each town has a Rune master, Blacksmith and Outfitter. You can also gossip with the townsfolk too. Some towns have unique sections, some have Ruins you can crawl though, another has a Quest Guild that allows you to do sidequests in a similar fashion of Final Fantasy Tactics by sending your mercenaries on dispatch missions.
Each time you move across the icons days pass. Not all icons are towns though, about half of the Kulook icons are fields, which allows you to "Hunt Monsters". This is just a ploy so you can level grind.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
After beating the final boss, you'll be treated with a lengethy cutscene. After the credits roll you'll once again see more cutscenes, and even a CGI scene that lasts about 2 seconds at the most. You can then save your clear data.