Review by ruleoftheyeti
A great game that brings back the love for Wild ARMs
The original Wild ARMs game for the Playstation was, and still is, one of my favorite RPGs of all time. But since then, I haven't really been impressed with the Wild ARMs series. The remake of Wild ARMs, Wild ARMs Alter Code: F, was alright, but didn't match the original. And while Wild ARMs 4 had some very good ideas, they were not well implemented. Now comes this game, Wild ARMs 5. It took all the good ideas from 4 and made them work. It is a wonderful game that brings me the same feeling as the game that started the series.
There are three main gaming modes that you will find yourself in while playing Wild ARMs 5. The first is the town mode. It isn't anything out of the ordinary. While running around the town you are able to talk to various people, open treasure chests, find some hidden treasures, and shop. There are no maps detailing the towns however. The second mode is the dungeon mode. If you played Wild ARMs Alter Code: F or Wild ARMs 4, this will seem very similar. If not, it is pretty much a standard 3-D dungeon with areas to jump and switches to press. The big change in this game is that the tool system that was present in the other games is tweeked. Instead of multiple characters having different tools, only the main character, Dean, is used for tools. And the tools are really just different specialized ammo for his ARM. They work just like the tools in other Wild ARMs games, just presented a little differently. You are also able to jump, slide, slam after a jump, and climb ladders and pipes. You are given a dungeon map early in the game, so you can always check your location. The map isn't great as it only gives your location in terms of room, not actual location, but it is useful. It will tell you how many rooms there are and which connect to which. The final mode is the world mode. This is the biggest change in my opinion. Instead of the normal way world maps are represented, as a low detailed representation of the world, this world map is like a giant dungeon. Everything is scaled up, though not necessarily to life size scale. But you get the feeling of being in the world not walking on it. The search command is back, but this time it is used almost solely to find hidden chests. No longer do you have to search for cities or dungeons. You can easily see them on the screen.
Battles the same as they were in Wild ARMs 4, with few tweeks. You are only able to bring in 3 characters to the battle, though switching out characters is possible. The battle is made up of a grid of seven hexes, normal arranged with six hexes surrounding one center hex. There are different set ups for boss battles. Three of these hexes are called ley points, which means that they have an element tied to them. This can change various original commands and give you extra resistance to that elment and weakness to the opposite one. You are able to see the order of turns for your characters and the enemies at all times. You are also able to analyze the opponent whenever you want withou using a turn. When your character has a turn you can either move to another hex or attack/use item/use original command/use force power. It works a lot like a strategy RPG during the battles, but not as big in terms of grid space. After each battle, all surviving characters life is restored. A character dead at the end of battle is brought back, but without the ability to regain maximum life. An itme or save point can fix that. Everyone character in your party gains the same amount of experience whether they were used in battle or not. Occassionally during battle, you will see a little CG sequence with a character posing and saying something. This is a little annoying as it doesn't signify anyting special happening. But it isn't anything really horrible.
Character development: 8/10
Your character stat growth is similar to most RPGs. You gain experience and at set amounts you level up, increasing your stats. Each character is a little different, with some obviously leaning towards physical attacks and others towards magic attacks. While everyone has their own individual ARM that doesn't change, you can get different "ammo" types for the weapons. This is essentialy the same as getting new weapons like in other games. The big difference is that a characters ARM has a certain attack range. Some are up close while others are distance. This never changes. Everyone also has one piece of armor to wear. There are some armors that will even change the appearance of your characters as well. Badges are the accessories in this game, and as such, work just the same. Everyone starts out with one badge slot, but can get up to four other slots added on. Abilities are divided into three areas: original commands, skills, and force powers. Original commands are basically the spells of the game. These aren't any different from the usual spells you find in any RPG. Skills are abilities that occur without you, the player, selecting them. Some are always active, others activate with certain criteria or randomly. Force powers are special abilitles requiring not MP, but force points that build up during the battle. Some are attack oriented, like the combos that a character gets with each of his/her teammates, and some are support oriented like mystic that makes an effect go to each hex with an ally in it. The big part of character development is the mediums. Without these, your characters have no original commands of their own, only one skill unique to each individual, and would only have the combo force powers. There are six mediums, though there is the ability to copy a medium, thereby having two of the same. Each medium gives a bonus to two stats based on character level, though they are diffent with each medium. The original commands, skills, and force powers accessable are different for each as well. A medium has these abilities at set level. For every character level a poitn is added to each ability. For example, if an ability needs 8 points, and the character equiping the medium is level 10, he/she has learned that skill. You can also add points to an ability not learned. Every point with a medium is 50 HP. So if you use 2 points to learn an ability, you will lose 100 HP. These point will come back when you gain a level. In the end this means you can give any character any medium and therefore any ability. There is no uniqueness in terms of original commands and so on.
The graphics are great. Everything looks the same no matter whether you are in battle, in the world map, or in a town. The sound is fine too, though sometimes all the repetitive noises Dean makes when performing an action can get annoying.
The playtime seems to be about the norm for an RPG. It greatly depends on how long you want to level up and how determined you are to find every last treasure chest in the world map. Replayability would be normal for an RPG as well. A New Game+ is possible in this game, so that may interest some people.
In the end, I think this game is almost perfect. The only real problem I have is that the characters abilitites are not unique. But since their stats to slant them towards being the warrior or wizard, that helps. The story is wonderfully told. The character personalities are unique and very interesting to watch as they interact. I am extremely glad that the Wild ARMs series has another game that makes it hard for me to stop playing.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Wild ARMs 5 (10th Anniversary Edition) (US, 08/28/07)
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