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Developer: Climax Group | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 07/20/04 | Genre: Action/RPG

Although I love several genres of gaming, Role Playing Games have a special place in my heart. Perhaps it was because the first video game I really got involved in Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy back on the NES. Or perhaps I just grew accustomed to deep, engrossing storylines, with tons of replay value, with a very long quest to play through. There is nothing better than a good RPG to suck hours upon hours of your life away. However, when one picks up a bad Role Playing Game, there is nothing more frustrating--especially if you get a little involved in the story. Recently I ran into this problem with the new RPG from Microsoft and Developer Climax. This title, Sudeki, is the first real Japanese style RPG on the Xbox. Unfortunately, the game lacks the staying power that all AAA RPG’s need to stand out in the market place.

Sudeki begins with a strange looking cinema that tells a confusing story about a dark god and a light god. As the actual game begins, you control a young warrior named Tal. Your first task is to train with your weapon against a few soldiers. However, you aren’t given complete instructions on how to get through this exercise. Players must string together button presses to hit the soldiers with a big enough blow to knock them off their feet. While this was only the beginning of the game, this is very fitting to the combat system. Players will struggle to hit their buttons in some sort of rhythm in order to land tougher blows. Unfortunately, the collision detection is very bad and the melee combat feels rushed, unplayable, and impossible to keep your eyes on your enemies do to the ridiculously horrible camera system.

As you continue to play, you will gain control of a second melee warrior and then two different characters who you control their combat via the first person viewpoint. This makes the game more like a First Person Shooter and is much more playable than the third person melee action. However, since the ranged characters are generally weaker than the melee ones, this makes killing your enemies much tougher. It also doesn’t help that your party can’t heal themselves or even defend themselves well enough to stay alive.

Between combat sessions, players will explore the world in a third person viewpoint. You will wander around and need to solve puzzles, explore your surroundings, locate treasure chests, and speak to other characters. Since I found the combat to be absolutely horrible and frustrating--even during the early training moments of the game--these adventure elements break up the monotony of combat. However, the adventure elements aren’t as satisfying or as fun as other titles.

Another element about Sudeki that drove me nuts was how difficult it was to keep your health up. As I have already mentioned, the collision detection is horrendous. Like other titles with this problem, the GBA Dragon Ball Z games come to mind, it is almost impossible to keep your health up and stay alive. This creates a big problem. During the first mission you go on as Tal, I found it a challenge to stay alive. At times, I was hoping to find enough potions to keep my health high enough to continue on the game.

There are some positives to Sudeki. The voices are pretty good for the most part. Most NPC’s in the game will speak with an actual voice. However, there are usually several different accents within one town and most characters have nothing important to say to you. Also, the game is visually stunning. The world is very bright and colorful with much attention to detail. However, the character models leave a little bit to desire. They seem a bit stiff and unrealistic at times. This takes a little bit away from the overall experience.

Microsoft and Climax did the right thing by trying to deliver Xbox owners a Japanese style RPG. However, they didn’t follow-through with a playable game. Since this title has been in development for so long, I was very frustrated with the final product. The only reason I kept playing was so I could continue the storyline on. Word of warning, this is a below average Action RPG and you should stay away unless you are desperate for a new game to play. Failure to heed my warning may result in hours of frustrating gameplay just to see the story to a close. If you do choose to play through the adventure, expect to spend around 20 hours to complete your quest.

Although I can’t give this game a higher ranking, I do hope Microsoft will continue to pursue the genre.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 09/21/04
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Violence

Screenshots for Sudeki

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