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Wild ARMs: 2nd Ignition - Retroview

Girly Named Guys With Big Guns

By: Shinichi Kudo


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 10
   Originality 7
   Plot 3
   Localization 1
   Replay Value 6
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

20-35 hours

 
Overall
8
Criteria

Title Screen
 

   When the original Wild Arms came out for the Playstation, it was welcomed because of its old school battle system and gameplay. The graphics and music, while sub par, were acceptable, since there were few RPGs on the system at that time. Now, three years later, a brand new Wild Arms comes out on the Playstation, much to the delight of old fans begging for a sequel. It’s safe to say that fans of the original Wild Arms will not be disappointed.

   Wild Arms 2 continues the battle system of the first Wild Arms, with each character having their own personal skills and abilities. For example, one character can use guns, another can use magic, another can use skills based on his equipment, etc. In addition, there is a Force Bar, which fills up as you attack and take damage in battle. Filling up this bar to certain levels will allow you to use special skills involving a character’s original skills, like using two spells at once. This adds flavor to an otherwise bland fighting engine. Also, a new system introduced is the Personal Skills system. As you gain levels, you gain Personal Skill Points (PS for short). These PS points can be used to “Purchase” skills that enhance your character’s abilities (Higher HP, greater critical hit ratio, etc.). While this may remind players of Final Fantasy IX’s ability junction system, keep in mind that Wild Arms 2 came out before FF9. The battles themselves are quite fun and refreshing. They are neither too hard nor too easy, and boss battles provide quite a challenge, as do the hidden monster battles.

   In this game, there are six playable characters at the end. Each of these characters have their own “tools” that they can use to get out of a room or to solve puzzles. This creates an effect that there is not really a main character, but that all the characters are main characters. The puzzles themselves are quite intuitive and are integrated perfectly into the game. Many of these puzzles are tied in with the plot of the game, and feel natural. The puzzles will keep players thinking, but not to the edge of insanity like many other games.


The most embarassing way to die
The most embarassing way to die 

   The music in this game is the most beautiful non-Square music ever to grace an RPG. The battle music is appropriately orchestrated to give a sense of action to the player. The boss themes are dark and foreboding, and the overworld themes fit perfectly. In my opinion, the final battle music is the best music I have ever heard for a game (yes, even better than Square’s). Without giving anything away, it gives the battle a rightful “Hero” theme. The sounds, while well done, can’t really compare to the music or graphics in this game.

   While we’re on the topic of graphics, this game’s visuals are very good. Though it’s not Chrono Cross or Legend of Dragoon calibur, the visuals are very well done. Out of battle, the characters are 2D sprites interacting with a 3D environment. One would expect this game to control horribly, but Wild Arms 2 pulls off good control without hurting the visuals. In battles, characters are all 3D sprites, much like in the original Wild Arms. However, while the original Wild Arms had super deformed characters, Wild Arms 2 has better proportioned characters, resulting in a better experience overall.


Gorgeous anime cutscenes
Gorgeous anime cutscenes 

   The actual game takes quite some time to complete. It took me 30 hours to get through to the end of the game without doing any of the subquests and I was actually trying to hurry; it may be because I was struggling with the font (more on that later), but 30 hours is still quite some time. The second time through, though, it took me 25 hours, including the time used to finding secrets.

   Replay in most RPGs are very difficult to pull off. The game must offer something not available the first time through (Much like the Chrono series), not some awesome new weapon just for playing it through faster (Such as in Final Fantasy IX). Wild Arms 2 is an RPG with a lot of replay value, because you can easily miss some of the hidden dungeons and hidden bosses if you’re not careful. The former problem is remedied with a sonar system later in the game to let you detect the hidden dungeons easier. The hidden dungeons, side quests, and enemies will be enough to take up quite a chunk of your free time. However, once you find all its secrets and defeat all its bosses, Wild Arms 2, like many other RPGs, will be put on your shelf to collect dust until a year later, when you hopefully decide to replay it just for the heck of it.


There are some who call me - Tim?
There are some who call me - Tim? 

   Though Wild Arms 2 is generally above average in many respects, the one area that is most important in an RPG is sadly where Wild Arms 2 fails. The storyline is more of that “Saving the World” type story. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big issue, but Wild Arms 2 does such a poor translation of the story that one can’t really fully appreciate what the story is trying to convey. Many times the story will try to provide insight, or develop characters with deep conversations, but the broken English prevents players from really connecting with the characters. The font is almost unreadable; I can normally read most any type of font, but I know something is really wrong when I mistake a ‘j’ for an ‘l’. The plot, which wouldn’t be so poor if the game had been translated better, is often rushed or too slow. Many times a huge plot line would occur and leave me asking, “What the heck just happened?” This is a major flaw to an otherwise near perfect game.

   However bad the story may be, you will probably find it hard to put down the controller, especially after plot twists. Many may condemn this game as subpar or even less than that. However, I found Wild Arms 2 to be a very enjoyable game, despite some of its shortcomings. In fact, in my book, it’s just as good as Grandia or Final Fantasy VIII. I really can’t recommend this game enough; buy it. You won’t regret it.





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