Despite problems, 'Sudeki' is fun

Each main character has a different weapon specialty.
"Sudeki" is such a strange mishmash of influences -- and good and bad executions of both -- that it's tricky to get a good handle on the game itself. It borrows heavily from other role-playing games, particularly Japanese ones, but it has a few original ideas. The visual design for the game's world is terrific, and the monsters the band of heroes faces are interesting, but the characters themselves and the people they meet often seem hackneyed and shallow.
The rating covers some bloody violence in the game's battles. The title refers to the name of a world split between light and darkness after its god, Tetsu, decides to form a shadowy version of himself for company. Things go predictably awry, and Sudeki is divided and thrown into turmoil.
Four legendary heroes appear, sealing away the evil god and restoring peace to the land for a time. But now things are stirring, and it's up to a new generation of warriors to take up the cause.
There are four main characters, and the player will control different sets of them at different times. There's the brash swordsman, Tal; the royal (and ridiculously dressed) sorceress, Ailish; the resident genius, Elco; and the hot-tempered cat girl, Buki. Each has a weapon specialty, and a unique puzzle-solving ability and set of powers.
Characters' powers
Tal uses swords and is strong enough to manhandle heavy objects; his skills tend to focus on attack, and he gets up-close and personal with his swords. Ailish casts powerful healing and attacks magic, can dispel enchantments and uses magical implements to attack from a distance.
Elco can boost teammates and inflict ailments on foes, while his jet pack allows him to fly short distances and his guns let him take potshots at enemies. Buki gets even closer to her foes than Tal, using powerful destructive skills and attacking with arm-mounted claws that also allow her to scale certain walls.
What's different about "Sudeki" is how its battle system plays out. Fights happen in real time instead of in turns, which has been done before, and the characters not currently controlled by a player attack on their own according to instructions.
But while Tal and Buki battle and string together attack combos from a third-person view, when the player takes control of Ailish or Elco the game switches to a first-person shooter mode for long-range battlin
Few RPGs, if any, have combined these two modes quite like this, with different characters dedicated to different play styles. It's an interesting way of mixing things up.
Speaking of mixing things up, the battles in "Sudeki" are fun, despite a few hitches. The automatic actions of the characters can be boneheaded, leading to unnecessary damage, and it can be tricky to switch to the right character in the heat of battle, since the action can only be slowed, not stopped. It's not bad, but not as smooth as it could've been, especially in hectic fights against lots of enemies.
The characters can buy, find and upgrade a variety of weapons, and Tetsu pops in occasionally to grant new armor and powerful Spirit Strikes, which summon the aid of those heroes of old. Along with each character's skills and a variety of runes that can be grafted onto equipment, there's a lot of variety and strategy involved in the game's battles.
"Sudeki" employs a huge amount of voice acting. Like with "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," every character one meets has something to say out loud, no matter how inane. That's part of the problem -- a lot of the lines are just boring and have no useful information, and some longer story scenes sound awkward.
X"Sudeki," by Microsoft for Xbox, is rated M for mature gamers.

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