The Tale of the Flame Champion;
The story goes that fifty years ago, there was a war between the Grasslands and Harmonia. The Grasslanders were up against superior numbers, resources, and technology: it looked like the battle was lost. But a man called the Flame Champion surfaced, and he was the sort they called a hero. To protect the land he loved, he bore a True Rune, one of 27 relics of power, and the guardian forces behind the Suikoden universe. In the final confrontation, the True Fire Rune went out of control and bured an entire platoon of Harmonian soldiers. A lasting peace was signed, but from then on, the Flame Champion was only heard from in legend.
Suikoden III is the third title in Konami's flagship RPG series. It takes place fifteen years after the events of Suikoden II. It's also the first Suikoden for the Playstation 2, and the first to feature 3d grapics. The Suikoden series is known for its large number of playable characters, strategic battles between armies, and epic storylines anchored by very quiet young men.
Suikoden III is different. It's a different sort of RPG altogether. While Suikoden III shares many traits with the rest of the series (the theme of war, 108 stars of destiny, Luc) it features something called the Trinity Sight System. There are three main characters in Suikoden III, and each of them has their own story.
The game is about a war between the Zexen federation and the Grassland tribes. You play through the same series of events as the son of a Grassland chief, the captain of the Zexen knights, and a mercenary from the power-hungry Harmonia. Where one group sees massacre, another will see strategy, and where one sees betrayal, another will see retribution. The result of the system is a very unique game. Suikoden III is a story about ordinary people caught up in events they cannot control, and how the human heart deals with strife and hardship. It's not exactly epic, but it doesn't have to be.
Suikoden III was released in 2002 for the Playstation 2, and was Gamespot's RPG of the year. Some Suikoden titles are notoriously hard to find, but this one is fairly common and inexpensive. Unfortunately, this game has never recieved a European release, despite being way better than Suikoden IV. If you're at all interested in what I've written here, it's a game I really reccomend. Prior Suikoden experience is not neccessary.
Suikoden III was also made into a manga illustrated by Aki Shimizu. While the game offers flexibility through the Trinity Sight System, the manga takes one storyline and fleshes it out. The manga is released in English by Tokyopop and I've found copies at my local bookstore. You can learn more about the manga at the official site.