Love 'em or hate 'em, console role-playing games have amassed a following willing to live and die by plot-twisty storylines, convoluted combat systems (tagged with esoteric names like "Active Time Battle") and - more often than not - lithesome, blue-haired heroes and the spunky female sidekicks who love them.
The long-running Suikoden series (the release of Suikoden V marks the franchise's 10th anniversary) has been guilty of all of the above at some point in its illustrious (and not-so-illustrious) run- but its kicker has always been your ability to gather the support of up to 108 characters. Some can be placed in your party as playable, while others will lend their support in non-combative ways.
And that, along with Suikoden V's involving, lengthy (like 50-plus hours lengthy) kingdom-in-chaos-and-you're-the-only-shining-hope storyline, are the game's hooks. Hooks that'll satisfy those in the "live-and-die-by-RPGs" camp willing to plod through the game's ridiculously slow-paced, hard-candy shell of an introduction to get to the deliciously chewy center. Seriously, the game's first eight to 10 hours really feel like the Great Wall barring entry for anyone who's hemming and hawing about signing on Suikoden V's dotted line.
While it's good to get to know your main character (the plucky prince of a fictional, medieval-style continent named Falena) and his motley entourage of bodyguards and royal relatives, we're pretty sure it could've been done with much snappier pacing. But once you break through and get to the meat of your adventure (after a few dramatic plot twists that we shan't speak of here), RPG-savvy veterans' hearts will melt as the game takes you on an addictive trip of character-gathering, castle-building and some serious meat-and-potatoes power-leveling.