Suikoden has been blazing the RPG genre for years and it's been quite a ride. The fact that there's 5+ Suikoden games clearly shows Konami's commitment to the series not to mention that most give strong performances that leave you wanting for more. Well, Konami has given us more but is it too much of a good thing?
Whatever you do, don't make that decision by the beginning of the game alone. This game starts incredibly slow and takes awhile to really get to the meat of the game. I actually don't mind games starting off at a leisurely start as long as a foundation for the plot is being developed. Understanding character's backgrounds, world politics, or world history all help to give a purpose to what your goals are going to be and that's exactly what Suikoden V does. This is definitely one of the slower games initially I've played, but RPG fans will eat it up. Have no fear, it does pick up and take you for a ride.
Once you get past the beginning, other parts of the game start to stand out. Returning are the 108 stars of destiny which are basically characters you recruit and add to your army. Yes, you will build an army and have large scale battles (real time instead of turn based) which are a sight to behold. There are also mini-games that help break up the monotony of the same battle style and of course all the leveling, rune attacks, and weapon upgrades you would expect in a well designed RPG. The cutscenes stand out as well with great visuals and voice-overs that do a fantastic job of selling the plot and characters.
There are a few areas that were less then stellar however. One, which is common to PS2 games, is the load times. There are tons of loads and the duration is just over my tolerance point. Probably the bigger issue for me is the heavy tilt toward exploration. To talk to every person and fully explore an area just flat out takes too long. Most of the people you talk to seem to give the same type of data over and over which I find generally irritating.
For those looking for a solid RPG on the PS2 or are fans of the Suikoden series, Suikoden V definitely will fill that role nicely. The slow start and heaver tilt toward exploration may turn off some who need a steady dose of action, but for the rest of us find Suikoden V worth the time.