Sudekiby Stephen Cameron
April 27, 2004
I walk into my local video game store. I spend a bit of time browsing the shelves, but nothing seems to catch my eye. So I decide to ask the professional purveyor of video game paraphernalia who works at the store to see if he has any game ideas that I may have overlooked. “I am looking for a good RPG video game man.” “Sure what video game system do you have, a PC, PS2, Game Cube?” Then the conversation goes down hill “Naw man, I have an Xbox!!” He tries to hold in the laugh that builds up from somewhere deep in his bowles, but doesn’t succeed. “Hahahahahah…. Xbox…. Hahhhahha… RP..ha… G…!” Then he gets all of his friends from the back out to laugh at me as well. Some old lady who is in there buying a video game for her grandson looks at me and says “Even I know that there aren’t RPGs on the Xbox”
Why does one of the best video game systems on the market seem to be so completely devoid of RPG titles? Now there certainly are a couple very good ones, Morrowind, Knights of the Old Republic. Some might even consider Barbie Horse Adventures an RPG, but I think there is only one of you, and you know who you are. There just isn’t much selection. You can only play through each of these games so many times, before you can recite Malek’s speeches by heart. At least there seems to be a game on the horizon to satisfy our RPG addiction, Sudeki.
Sudeki is the new RPG that is going to hit the Xbox sometime in 2004. It certainly is a departure from your standard dungeon crawl. It is a cross between an action fighting game, and a story driven standard RPG, with some of the best bits of each thrown into the mix.
You eventually will control a party of four pre generated heroes that you will have to use to champion Tetsu, the God of Light and save everything your characters hold dear. You start with Tal, the warrior of the party. He favors hand to hand combat and dishes out lots of close up damage. Ailish is the daughter of the Queen Lusica is the magic wielder of the party. Not only does she have regular magic ranged attacks, but spells like Blaze Ball can take out a lot of enemies in one blast of magic. Later on in the game you will also control Buki the human, animal hybrid with enhanced senses and very useful climbing claws, and Elco the scientist of the group, but also carries some serious ranged firepower. Each of these characters brings their own skills to the adventure. Tal can drag crates and other objects around with his strength. Ailish has the ability to dispel illusions and find hidden objects. Buki has her climbing claws, so can get up onto ledges that others could never reach. Elco’s jetpack comes in handy trying to get to those hard to reach places as well. In all, the four characters are distinctive and each has their own character, strengths and weaknesses. They are also each very different to control in combat.
How do you spice up the combat in an RPG. They normally are turned base, with each side attaching and doing damage in turn with no real time constraints. The combat in Sudeki is real time. So no pausing to think about things and control each of your characters so they do what is best for the party. You get to control a single character at a time, while the rest are taken over by AI to fend for themselves. You can switch between the characters while in combat, but still only can control one at a time. Buki and Tal are viewed with a controllable third person camera. They are hand to hand fighters, and have a number of combos that you can use to dispatch enemies quickly. For example, X, X, A will unleash Tal’s Tornado Spin. He does the first two normal attacks, then plants his sword and uses it to hold himself up while he runs in circles kicking enemies ala. Neo in the Matrix 2. These attacks are not only eye candy, they really are important for taking out large numbers of attackers without taking much damage. These combo moves are not quite the button mashers like a fighting game, there is more of a pause between each button press. It just takes a bit to get the timing down. Ailish and Elco are both controlled just like a first person shooter. You have a hand to hand attack, as well as your normal ranged attack. You will be circle strafing like a fiend if you are hard core shooter fan, so there should be something here for every gamer.
Also all characters have skill strikes. These special attacks are fueled by your Skill Points. They are special attacks or spells that you can use in combat, area affect melee attacks or massive fireballs. As you character advances in levels you can choose where you would like to spend the points you get. You can spend them in your characters abilities. Health – gives you your hit points, Skill – gets you Skill Points that you spend to use your skill strikes, Power – gives your character more melee and ranged attack damage, and Essence – increases the effect of your skill strikes, either more damage, longer duration or whatever is appropriate to that skill. You can also spend those character points on gaining new skill strikes, giving your character different ways of using their skills in combat. Each of the skill strikes slows combat while your character fires off their skill. The skills have wonderful animations and great effects. Seeing this skill strikes go off is almost better than their in game affects.
The graphics in Sudeki are very well done. It has an Anime feel to the entire game and world. The backgrounds are very interesting, and the colors are vibrant, crisp and clean. There are literally tones of small detail scattered around the world that give the locales that “lived in” feel. The towns also have a very cohesive feel to them. The towns really seem to fit together. There are amazing fly bys of each town as you reach them where the camera soars around the area giving you a great view of each of the areas as you reach them. They show off some pretty wonderful graphics. The lighting effects are also very well handled. Things like lens flares and shadow are very well modeled. One more word on the shadows: something that really amazed me was that the objects in the world actually cast proper shadows. When you stand under a tree there isn’t just a simple block of shadow, it is actually broken up by the branches and leaves. So there are shafts of light that make it through the trees to light up your characters. We have posted some screen shots from the game. I really hope you get an idea of how good this game really looks. The info package that I received is saying that the graphics are still being polished, and that the final game will look even better. Hard to believe as this is already a very good looking game.
The voice acting was well done. There are a great number of voices, each very different from the last. In the preview build there were still some issues of matching the voice to the characters in the cut scenes, but I am sure that will be fixed up in the final code. The attack sounds and generic in game sounds were well done, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the music selections. While it did fit the game, I just didn’t get into the music as much as some people might.
This might seem like a trivial thing to mention, but the opening movie to this game was very well done. My wife usually ignores anything related to video games that goes on while she is around, but this into really caught her attention. It is a history/background story told with simple two dimensional characters, that you realize later that are puppets. The narrator has a fantastic voice that really gets the story across. It actually intrigued my wife enough to say that she was interested in knowing what happens in the story. So when you buy this game, don’t just pound on the start button to get into the game, have some patience and watch the intro.
I have played a fair bit of the game already, and feel that I have only scratched the surface of the entire story. I have no idea exactly how long in hours it will take to complete this game, but I can only assume it will be reasonably long.
Overall this looks like a game that RPGers should put on their calendar. We have been waiting for something new and fresh to hit the Xbox in the RPG category, and this might very well be the game.