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Sudeki

Review By:  Tim Mitchell

Developer:  Climax
Publisher:  Microsoft
# of Players:  1
Genre:  RPG
ESRB:  Mature
Online Play:  No
Accessories:  In-game Dolby Digital, HDTV 480p
Date Posted: 

9-4-04

Sudeki is a great action RPG that brings with it many unique elements. For instance, there’s a girl with magic powers…erm….well, there’s an evil queen….or, uh…a guy with a mechanical arm? And of course the radical concept of collecting crystals… Okay, so maybe it doesn’t bring too many new concepts to the table in terms of setting. But formulas are generally repeated because they work, and it’s no exception here.

You wanna talk new and innovative? The battles in Sudeki are certainly that. Combat plays out in real-time, however pressing Y brings up your quick menu, from which you can select skills, spells and items to use. The cool thing is that the battle doesn’t stop while you’re doing this, but is rather thrown into slow motion. So you’re able to consider your choices, but not for too long. It gives combat RPG complexity while still keeping the action moving, with just the right amount of difficulty to keep things interesting. You’ll have up to four characters in your party at any time, which can be cycled through easily with the black/white buttons. They’re split into two basic types, ranged and melee fighters. For the latter, you’ll be slugging it out in third person, chaining together combos to do massive damage. Meanwhile, switching to one of your ranged characters throws you into a FPS-like view so you can blast away at the enemy. This was my preferred view for most of the game. There’s nothing quite like being thrown into a 20 vs. 4 engagement, magic and swords flying everywhere, firing at a group of foes in front of you then turning around to find a hulking behemoth that’s just joined the fray. Battles occur often and for the most part are unavoidable, so you’d best learn to enjoy them.

When you’re not duking it out with enemy troops, there are other things to keep you occupied. Upgrade your weapons and armor, sell the spoils of your latest conquests to the merchant that offers the highest price, or just do a sub quest or two. There aren’t many mini-games, but I do vaguely recall being asked to herd sheep at one point. You’ll also be confronted with a variety of puzzles during your adventure. Each of your party members has a different talent. Tal can push blocks, Buki can climb walls, etc. When coupled with the ability to switch characters, it makes for a lot of possibilities, and the developers took full advantage of this diversity. I honestly had to stop and think a few times.

The music is pretty strange, having a vaguely techno feel but also very low-key, almost like elevator music. There’re no tunes that stand out to me as particularly good. All the dialogue in the game is spoken, and the voice work is passable, if a bit cartoony at times. It’s never enough that you want to turn it off, but some of the voices sound just a bit phlegmy, and the variety of accents poorly emulated. Graphically, Sudeki shows off some nice environments, large castles and seaside villages and such, as well as some great lighting effects. My only major complaint is that I spotted the old “Background trees appearing over foreground objects” glitch. I haven’t seen that in a game in years. In addition, defeated enemies explode into a fountain of gore that looks like nothing so much as a bunch of glossy red paint. It’s neither realistic nor particularly stylish, coming off as merely gratuitous. A shame, since that’s probably the only reason the game garnered an M rating. Sure, a bit of language is thrown about here and there and Buki’s costumes are most definitely designed from a minimalist perspective, but it’s nothing that wouldn’t have slipped in at the edge of the “T” spectrum.

As noted, Sudeki follows the standard RPG formula in many respects, especially the story. It’s not bad in any way, but I can’t say I was ever truly surprised at any point. Its pretty standard stuff, preventing an evil god from being summoned, exploring a dark mirror of your homeland, etc.  I won’t reveal too much, but there aren’t really any major twists. The characters are all fairly interesting and there are a few good scenes, but overall the game lacks serious depth. The stakes just never feel like they’re truly high, because you’re not really invested in this world yet. After awhile, it starts to get better, and then just when you feel like the game is ready to take off, you’re confronted with its fatal flaw…

The game ends far too soon. I started it Sunday evening, and I beat it Tuesday before dinner. By the end of the night, I’d completed all the quests I missed and beat it again. If the game were three times as long, I would be hailing it as a top-notch RPG experience. But it’s not, and all the compelling gameplay in the world won’t save it from that. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not one to harp on playtime as a major requirement for a good game. But as an RPG that attempts to put forth an interesting plot, you have a certain obligation to develop it sufficiently. Sudeki was moving in the right direction, then it suddenly copped out on me and threw me into an unimpressive battle with the final boss at what I felt should have been, at most, the midpoint of the game.

Highs:

  • Nice graphics with excellent lighting

  • Interesting characters, especially Elco

  • Good story, even if it obviously follows RPG Plots 101

  • Fast-paced, action-packed combat engine with plenty of depth and challenge

  • Large number of excellent puzzles

Lows:

  • Sub-par blood graphics
  • Way too short
  • Badly faked accents on some secondary characters
  • It froze up on me once. Just so you know.
  • A couple of the bosses take forever to die
  • Not long enough

Final Verdict: 

I very much want to call Sudeki an epic RPG. All the elements are certainly there. There’s a great combat system, plenty of dungeons to explore, items to collect, and a decent story to follow… But the sad fact is “epic” can hardly be applied to anything that’s completed in 30 hours. I would call it very much a required rental for any RPG fan, but simply not worth $50 new. Give me a sequel with more of the same, only much longer, and we’ll talk.

Overall Score: 7.9

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