Suikoden IV 4 for Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2)
The fourth game in Konami's console-style role-playing series is a prequel rather than a sequel, set a century and a half before the events of the original 1996 PlayStation game. Players take the role of a young, would-be hero, who will come to carry an item called the Rune of Punishment. Like all runes, this one is powerful, but it is also very dangerous, for it damages its wielder when it's used. Like earlier Suikoden games, this fourth edition also involves gathering the "Stars of Destiny," which are 108 people from all walks of life who can be teamed together to accomplish great deeds. As the game begins, the player's character is just finishing his training at a naval academy, and being prepared for his first real battles. Because this game plays out across a string of mysterious islands, sea combat can be a regular occurrence, so the hero's training should serve him well. Much of the adventure still involves exploring the game world's various land masses, however, engaging in small-party turn-based battles and coaxing clues from other characters. Though the game's artwork remains notably stylized, characters have a more realistic (less anime-inspired) look than those of earlier Suikoden titles.