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The strength of Suikoden III is it's deep and gripping story. True, there is some overlap with the three main protaginists often bumping together at the same time, but even so, this is welcome because the player gets to see the same events from a different perspective. For example, Hugo and Chris often come across each other as enemies, but if you play through both chapters you will get an understanding for each person's actions and feelings. Also, there's two optional chapters you can play through as Thomas, a young man who has been thrust into becoming the master of a castle full of eccentric people. Overall, the story provides a lot of twists and turns and plenty of character development, which isn't all that easy when you have 108 characters to go through.
Like the first two Suikoden games, there are three types of battle modes in Suikoden 3, regular battles, war battles, and one-on-one duels. Like the first two games, you can control a party of up to six people in battles, but unlike the first two games, you control the players as three rows rather than six individual players. For example, the front and back player on each row is assigned to attack the same enemy. This is kind of frustrating, especially when you have one person use a magic spell while the other person just stands there or, if you're lucky, attacks a random enemy. Also, unlike the previous two games, you are not limited by where you can put certain characters, as you can put anyone in either the front or back rows. There are also a variety of combo attacks, and a few 'mounted' attacks, in which a person can attack while riding on the back of another character. For example, Hugo and his pet griffon Fubar have a particularly devastating combo attack. War battles are somewhat similar to regular battles, only you control a unit of up to four people and have them attack another unit. Provided that you develop each character's skills to a high level, these battles aren't too hard. Duels work just like the previous two games, in which you have to guess what the enemy is going to do based on what they say before each attack. A new twist to the game is the implementation of a skills system, in which each character has their own separate set of talents that are either automatically gained or bought with skill points that are earned after each battle. By improving skills, the characters become more powerful or more likely to dodge attacks. However, you must be diligent in assigning skills, as different characters pick up on different skills quicker than they do others. For example, Hugo is more adapt at using combat skills than magic skills, while another person would be more adapt at using magic skills. This system adds to the uniqueness of each character, and you can mix and match skills to come up with the perfect skillset for each fighter.
The graphics in Suikoden 3 are solid, but not spectacular. While it was a step in the right direction to go into 3-D, the graphics in this game aren't quite up to the level of other RPGs released around this time, but that's only a minor problem for me. The soundtrack in this game is inferior to the first two Suikoden games, as there's not really a lot of themes that stick out, and each song just kind of blend together with a few exceptions. Suikoden 3 also provides a lot of mini-games, such as horseback racing and a couple of card games as well, but none of the mini games stack up to the Iron Chef mode found in Suikoden 2. Like the first two games, you get your own castle to play around with, and you can customize it by adding painting and vases to make things look better. Also, like Suikoden 2, there's a suggestion box and a detective, tools that allow you to find out more about the other characters. Perhaps the best little addition to Suikoden 3 is the ability to put on plays with your characters, as you can collect up to six scripts and stage performances. Depending on who is cast in these plays, the results can be quite hilarious.
Overall, I'd have to say that Suikoden 3 is a minor step back from Suikoden 2, but still is a fine game and one of the best RPGs to ever come out for the PlayStation 2. Sure, there are some flaws, but the strong story more than compensates for whatever flaws this game has. Overall, I'd give it a 8.1 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this game or review, than feel free to leave a comment. Also, if you have an idea for a future review, then send those to me at KtheC2001@gmail.com.