Suikoden V

An adventure so big you must recruit 108 characters to fully conquer it. The ability build your own castle and fill it with your rag-tag army, with a surprise around every corner. A lengthy, story-driven quest that always manages to be intimately personalyet grandly epic. One on one duels, the small skirmishes typical of all role playing games, and massive battles between armies. Somehow, even with all of this stuff, Suikoden hasn't managed to awaken much of a spirit of adventure these last four years.

Suikoden III, Suikoden IV and Suikoden Tactics, all for the PS2, are each broken in their own special way. Tedious battles, clunky world navigation, and substandard storytelling harmed all three to a greater or lesser extent. Thus, all have failed to live up to the potential the series showed in its younger, PSonedays. To be fair, each game has enough charm to keep fans coming back (particularly Suikoden III ). The problem is, it's been an entire console cycle since the series produced a classic.

Fortunately, RPG gamers are forgiving. No matter the shortcomings of the last entry, if a series once wrapped us in that warm and perfect cocoon of adventure and battle, we'll keep trying. Though enthusiasm may be tough to scrape together as of 2006, we're cautiously suggesting that this patience may finally pay off with Suikoden V. So far it seems to ignore most of what dragged down the last few games while keeping the things that worked.