Suikoden III (2002)


Suikoden III (2002)

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Director: Yoshitaka, Murayama, Keiichi Isobe
Platform: Playstation 2

The fragile truce between Zexen and the tribes of the Grasslands is shattered with each side accusing the other of treachery, but the conflict is more than it appears and the Stars of Destiny must align once more to restore peace to the land.

A lot of the series staples carry over to this entry. In regular combat, rather than selected the command for each party member, you choose a command for the pair. This restricts flexibility, but I'm guessing it was done for game balancing because no battle would last too long if you had six characters casting fourth tier spells. Strategic battles have been revamped to more closely align with regular combat with a little more automation and few options. It's gives you more of a sense of agency than the strategic battles in Suikoden II, but the strategic battles generally don't count for much. Treasure bosses scattered throughout the world provide an opportunity to grind for money and items relatively easily, which is convenient when funds are scarce. There are several mini games of varying quality. Besides recruitment and item drops, I didn't have much use for them. The controls on the horse racing are pretty bad.

One of the big issues with this series is that you have the 108 Stars of Destiny and only so much time to develop the characters, leaving a large portion of the cast superfluous. By splitting the story four ways (five if you count the epilogue), more of the characters get development, making for a more satisfying experience. I liked the four leads and their campaigns. If it wasn't for my completionist tendencies, some of the side characters would've never been brought onboard. I suppose I should be glad they were inconsequential to the plot. The villain didn't really do it for me. Certainly no Luca Blight.

As for the story, some of the setup in the Suikogaiden games pay off here. You meet some characters early and get some idea of the political machinations at work. One thing I liked is that you get an impression of characters and situations in one scenario and then it changes once you see it from the other side. To use an early game example that isn't too spoilery, if you start out as Hugo, you find yourself opposed to Chris and Zexen, but when you move on to Chris' chapter, you're more inclined to side with her and you're set against the Lizard Clan, but then when you play Ged's chapter, you come to respect the Lizard Clan and realize someone else is responsible for kicking off the chain of tragedy. I appreciate what it does and it's pretty good stuff.

As a fairly early PS2 game, it looks decent enough. The series makes the transition to 3D and the character models have pseudo-SD proportions. Character portraits are good. I like most of the character designs and the full animated OP is very good. In fact, the OP is the very reason I spent years pursuing the game.

The music is decent, but I personally preferred the previous game's score. Sound effects are adequate.

Not to spoil anything, it should go without saying that you want to collect all the Stars of Destiny. The payoff is worth it and helps mitigate one of my complaints about the story.

For a solid continuation of the Suikoden story with some of the best characterization seen in the series thus far, any fan has no excuse not to play it. It's very rewarding for anyone who's followed the series from the first game through the two gaiden. I've heard the series declines after this. I have yet to test it out for myself, but if this is where you part ways with the series, it's definitely a high note.

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