SUMMARY: It's kind of sad that this is the first user review for this game. I guess most people would have got put off by Suikoden 4. But let me tell you this: Suikoden Tactics is back on track and the way that Suikoden should be, even though it is just a Gaiden title.
The bulk of the story takes place 3 years after the Kulook and Island Nation war (Suikoden 4). The protagonist, Kyril, is on a mission with his party to investigate and destroy Rune Cannons once and for all. However, as the story progresses, he finds that there are more to these cannons than meets the eye.
Being Suikoden, there are many recruitable members. Most of these members played a part in Suikoden 4, such as Kika, Lino and Mizuki. There are also quite an array of new characters which all have some importance to the story. Just like in previous Suikodens, you will have to try most members out and optimize your team accordingly.
The battle system is one of it's strongest points. If you're familiar to the SRPG genre, just imagine FF Tactics with a whole new elemental affinity system and a few other tweaks such as combo attacks. If you're a SRPG virgin, then picture a chessboard. Each of your party members are chess pieces that can move a certain number of spaces. Warriors type characters can attack the square infront of them, archers can attack at a range and spell casters can attack from a larger distance. Ofcourse there is much more to it, but that's it in a nutshell, and it's a blast!
The only negative thing I can say about this system is the fact that non story characters can die for EVER if they die in battle. Remember Pablo, Rita and Wendel? Well they all died at some stage. I was forced to reset the entire battle in two of these cases. This can become very frustrating, especially when you're at the end of a long hard battle. One of my favorite characters ever, Jeane, died in a case like this but I chose to leave her dead and continue playing.
On starting the game, you may notice that you can load your previous Suikoden data (as is the case with most Suikoden games). What does it do? If you cleared Suikoden 4 and obtained all 108 stars, you'll be able to recruit Snowe and Lazlo (Hero4) and find out what happened to them after the Suikoden 4 events. As well as this, you can load your Tactics clear data. This also gives you a few extra features such as a new playable character.
I for one am a huge fan of Suikoden Music. This installment didn't let me down at all. Some of the battle music towards the end of the game is amazing, such as Quake In the Imperial Capital. You'll find that it will suit the atmosphere of the battle perfectly.
On a whole, the voices are pretty nice. I thought they did Kika and Roget extremely well. However, with the good, there is usually the bad. Unfortunatly, the bad being Kyril, the main character. He is in his late teens yet his voice sounds like a ten year old. Every time he talked, I asked myself why they didn't hire an adult for the job?
The story was also pretty decent. I don't think it was up to par with Suikoden 1, 2 and 3, but it was certainly better than 4. Towards the end, there are many twists that will probably make you say 'WOW'. A few questions are also raised (Ones which will undoubtedly be answered in the future). All in all, the plot was strong enough to keep me coming back for more.
If you're a Suikoden fan, then get it now. If you're a fan of the series who was put off by the 4th installment, then definitely give it a go. If you are not a fan of Suikoden or the SRPG genre, then I'd say try before you buy. I found it great and am looking forward to playing it through again.