Ah, the dull season is finally over. The number of hit titles thrown at our head is rapidly increasing, including Sudeki. Although, that was my initial thought. I hoped for a fierce battle between Sudeki and Fable, two Xbox role playing games that kept me busy during those dull summer months. I’m afraid that the battle has already ended…
The world of Sudeki is split in two: a dark area and a light area. Everything went smooth till the light spawn came popping up. Those pernicious monsters had nothing but bad intentions with the citizens of Illumina.
They call in the help of the young, virile Tal. His first mission is to get princes Allish back to town. This graceful lady seems to fall quite easily for the charms of Tal. The romance is in the air, I tell ya. As soon as Allish is brought back safe and sound, you’ll immediately get your second mission. To keep Illumina from falling into the wrong hands, the queen insists on building a defence shield. The only missing ingredients though are the crystals, which can be found in the Shudani village near Illumina. When the light spawn attack, the queen has a good excuse to go and fetch that damn crystal. Together with mad scientist Elco and female hunter Buki (of the Shudani tribe), you’ll start your search for the missing ingredient. The only one who’s left behind is Allish. The jealous but voluptuous princes will catch up with the threesome and join the club later on. When they reach the temple and finally get their hands on the crystal, the whole thing is shaken up by an earthquake. A small crack forms which leads to the dark world. The quartet runs for cover into the dark world. May the adventure begin, as well as my criticism…
A role playing game without battles is like Pamela Anderson without silicones, it’s much more fun with than without them. As a developer you’ve got a choice between two systems: turn based – or real time battles. The guys over at Climax have chosen wisely for the last one. No messing with menu’s, waiting for the bad guys to attack you, just plain action all under your control. The combo system works really easy. Every combo is split up into four circles. As soon as you’ve done your first move, the second circle will light up and you’ll have to perform your next attack. Keep doing this four times and you’ll find yourself busting some nice and effective combo’s. They only work for “melee” characters like Tal and Buki. Elco and Allish are equiped with long range weapons. The camera will change from a third person perspective to a first person perspective, making it easier to aim. The thing that really caught my eye during battles was the blood. During my first confrontation with Sudeki, I felt like I was dealing with a cute, colourful role playing game, but once the fighting started this feeling ceased; the blood spilling is richer than ever before. The only downfall in the fighting is the animation. It felt like a couple of frames were skipped now and then, making it run less smoothly. But all in all the fighting system is one of the advantages of Sudeki.
In Sudeki you’ll get the control of four characters: Tal, Buki, Elco and Allish. Tal is the leading man of the whole pack. He’s a great swordsman and will receive new ones as the adventure progresses. In every town you visit, you’ll find a blacksmith. He’ll be able to adjust your swords, giving them a stronger power or equiping them with new abilities. The Shudani hunter, Buki, is a real mean b*tch. With her iron claws she can cause some serious damage to any surrounding baddies as well as climb certain walls. Elco on the other hand will use a lot of high tech stuff, such as his blasting pistol and his jetpack, making him able to explore higher places. The cute Allish is more a magical princes. She can see invisible crates and has some healing powers to keep her fellow team mates alive. A nice and varied mix of characters as you see.
Sudeki wouldn’t be a role playing game if it wasn’t possible to adjust your characters’ abilities. This mostly happens automatically through experience points which you will receive after successfully finishing missions. But you can also be at the helm yourself with the advancement menu. Now and then you’ll receive points, which can be assessed to learn new abilities or to improve your strength. Nothing new here, just the usual.
The huge amount of screenshots that I had to swallow during the last couple of months made my hunger even worse. The chance of being left behind disappointed was increasing rapidly thanks to this hype. But no worries, Sudeki ain’t an ugly duckling. There are some breathtaking moments which left me with an open mouth and a wet floor from the drooling. But what I wonder is: why can’t it always be this beautiful? Where’s the charm of the indoor locations and the darker areas? The lovely lighting effects really fall into place during the sunny time of day but when you enter the dark world it’s all downhill. Graphically Sudeki doesn’t meet my expectations. The animé drawing style, the English lads chose, is a nice try but they can leave it out next time around or hire some real Japanese designers. This feels like a desperate attempt to give the game a Japanese feel and immediately obtain a firm footing in Japan. Because whether you like it or not, the Xbox is still number three over there. My advise to Climax: let the cobbler stick to his last.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the true target of criticism: the sound. I never kept in mind that the sound could leave such a huge stamp on the final outcome, but believe me, it can! The music, especially during the more romantic cut scenes, has the same feel as the music during garden -or handyman programs; it’s irritating and should never be in a video game. But lord, sweet lord, the worst part are the voice-overs. Especially when they let Elco do the talking. He sounds like an emigrated Dutch greengrocer trying to make himself understandable in English. All dialogues are spoken but in such a way that you’ll find yourself longing for written dialogues (fact: you’ll never see written dialogues in Sudeki, so stop longing for them). The sound effects are also rather disappointing and this time it’s Elco’s gun that’s doing the dirty laundry.
The offer of role playing games on the Xbox is not really smashing and Sudeki isn’t changing this. The awful voice-overs, the unbalanced graphics and the uninspired story make Sudeki a more mediocre game, which is a disappointment all the way because it has been hyped a lot. RPG fans won’t have to cry it out now though because Fable is in stores since yesterday. Hopefully the boys of Lionhead won’t disappoint us too!