While the Playstation 2 has been rolling about in high quality role playing games for quite some time thanks mostly due to Square Enix, the Xbox has been lagging behind especially with eastern style RPG games that gamers love on the PS2 console. RPG games are one of the most popular genres around so for the Xbox to be faltering in this area should ring alarm bells at Microsoft and it did. Climax have worked on the Xbox since its launch releasing two stunning motorcycle games but this time around they have created a new franchise, and for those of you just dipping your feet into the RPG genre for the first time then Sudeki may just be for you.
Sudeki is based in the land of, funnily enough, Sudeki. Basically the Kingdom is under attack by a force known as the Aklorians, a force from the dark side of the universe trying to plunge the kingdom into darkness and take the land over. This is one of the problems with the game which first surfaces and that is the storyline is very weak and unless you follow it closely, it can completely pass you by. The game takes around two hours of solid play to get going which usually isn't a problem with RPG games due to their average length, but the early part of Sudeki has almost no plot development at all and really only serves as a very long winded introduction to the four characters.
At first you only have control of a young warrior named Tai. Tai is part of the kingdoms guard, tasked with protecting the land from the invaders as well as help royalty move from place to place without being attacked or to provide bodyguard style defence. Eventually you meet up with three other characters; a royal sorceress, a science geek and a tribal style woman. Each have their strengths and weaknesses in combat but the chances are within the first few hours you will select one character and in most cases stick with them throughout the game. It is possible to take control of any character at any time however, if they are currently in your party.
The combat system in Sudeki is quite unique and puts the game in the action oriented role playing genre rather than the traditional style game. The combat in Sudeki is real time and this may take some time for players to adjust to. It also means that you have to always been on the lookout for enemy attacks but gives the opportunity to defend the characters. As you travel along you will come across random enemy encounters. When enemies appear, the game transforms into combat mode and locks down the current area providing no escape much like Grabbed by the Ghoulies. The area does not unlock until all enemies are defeated and therefore it is imperative that the health of each character is always maintained at a high level if you are to be successful in this game. You can give orders to the characters you are currently not controlling via a menu system which can make them more defensive or aggressive towards enemies and therefore have a small amount of control on how they maintain their health.
The four characters all have different styles of combat be it magic or even using a gun. Two of the characters perform combat in a first person perspective giving fans of first person shooters an interesting twist to play with. We found that using the first person perspective made the game significantly easier as we could just dodge and shoot rather than having to actually rely on built up character skills. This will definitely be a blot against the game in some rpg fans books. However using this style of combat has given the game a new market, and that is people who haven't played to many RPGs and want a game which somewhat teaches them the style of play without being overly focused on the statistics of characters. The game still features level up systems which enhance characters abilities but the game does not place as much emphasis on this as much as a game like Final Fantasy. Some will see this as a problem with the game, others will see it as a step in the right direction.
Climax have always been a developer which pumps some serious juice out of the Xbox console and Sudeki is no different. The environments in which the game is set are highly detailed with some stunning architecture such as cogs opening city walls and the seaside town you visit early on in the game. The game features no frame rate issues and has a decent draw distance without any popup to be found. One of the most impressive graphical effects is when the characters special move is used, which very much imitate the bahumut zero style weapon from Final Fantasy. When you eventually reach the Aklorians home universe, you will notice a dramatic change in graphic style and architecture which somewhat keeps the game fresh. In terms of sound the voice acting is adequate without being overly impressive and the music is typical RPG flair with the soundtrack reacting to combat happening on screen or story sequences.
Sudeki is a game that won't appeal to fans of traditional role playing games but is very much suited for those who want to get into the genre without being defeated because they didn't use a particular style of armor or haven't leveled enough. Sudeki is an RPG and contains all the traditional elements but there are a lot of unique features which stray to far away for those who like the more standard style of RPG.