Wild ARMs 3 - Review

The wildest of ARMs
By: Solon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 6
   Interface 8
   Music & Sound 8
   Originality 7
   Story & Plot 7
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 6
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Very Easy
   Completion Time 40-60 Hours  

Too bad you won't be doing this much
Too bad you won't be doing this much
Wild ARMs 3

   Many RPGs have sequels. Lately, the third part in most series has been particularly bad for some reason. For example, Suikoden 3 was a disappointment, as was Arc the Lad 3 and Grandia Xtreme. However, there are of course exceptions... and Wild ARMs 3 just happens to be one of them. While I had only played the first part in the series before trying out this one, I can still say that it looks a lot better, and that this part of the series involves a whole lot more work than they put down on the other games.

   Just like in the other Wild ARMs, you get to choose from a number of small scenarios in the beginning, one for each character. All of the scenarios lead to the same spot, and the party takes form. In Wild ARMs 3, you control four drifters. A drifter is a person that has no home, no family... they roam the land, looking for answers, taking on jobs that no one else would. Each one of the drifters in the party has their own personal story and background, and there's a lot of thought put into their personalities.

   After these four people meet, they head out on a long, long journey to find out about the mysteries of their well-known planet, Filgaia. Why is the planet covered with sand and wasteland? What happened? Where are all the animals, trees and lakes? Mysterious people also appear as they journey through the wasteland. Do these people have something to do with all this? The answers lies ahead, and so does like two million dungeons... and you will go insane as you urge for more plot-events in the middle of a gigantic dungeon. The plot is a little predictable, but still very exciting and interesting. I had my doubts about yet another save-the-planet story, but it turned out to be better than I thought.

   All four drifters use ARMs, or 'Ancient Relic Machines'. While attacking normally in WA3, you will use your ARM...however, there is a limited amount of ammo in each ARM (this can be upgraded), and when a character is out of ammo, he or she will hit the enemy with the weapon if you still choose to attack. If you defend for one turn though, the character will reload the weapon. Like in the other WA games, characters gain FP in battle when being hit or when performing an attack. When the FP is high enough, you can use Force. The Force menu involves three different commands, one that is unique for each character (such as Mystic, Extension etc that were seen in the earlier games), Gatling and Summon guardian. Gatling is (in my opinion) the key to winning tough boss battles. The higher the FP gauge goes, the more powerful the Gatling will become. If one character has a full FP gauge and uses Gatling, it will empty all its bullets on the enemy, and the damage will be quite a lot higher than usual. If the character runs out of battles during a Gatling attack, he or she will continue hit the enemy instead.

Cool but useless summons
Cool but useless summons

   Guardians also return in the third installment, and this time they (fortunately) look a lot better than they used to. Unfortunately, they are quite useless. I mean, you never really have to use them at any time throughout the game, as most battles are easy, and they take so much time to cast.

   However, the guardians are still unique. First of all, you equip the different guardians on the characters. Now, each guardian has a bunch of abilities, and a few equip slots where you can add more abilities. This is the only way to make your characters' defensive sides more powerful. There is no usual equip, no extra weapons or armors, only this. You find different items throughout the game that you can equip onto the guardians, and the character which has that guardian equipped has the ability to use that skill. You can't use all of the skills at the same time though, instead you use your 'Personal skill' points (PS) for this. When character gain more levels, the PS increases, and you can divide them over the different skills in any way you want. Also, you can always reset one skill (if you don't need it anymore), and distribute those PS in other abilities. Compared to the battle systems seen in the other Wild ARMs, this one is superior. Compared to the giant RPGs we see today, such as Xenosaga, LeGaia, Shadow Hearts or Grandia Xtreme, this battle system is boring and very repetitive. Of course, it's up to you to decide whether you like it or not, this is just my personal opinion.

   Another thing that is far more superior in WA3 than it was in the earlier games is the interface. So incredibly smooth, so incredibly fast! Especially in battles, the commands are put in instantly. The colors and setup of the interface also fits in perfectly with the setting of the game. Everything has the Wild West-touch, and the touch of it is much stronger in WA3 as everything takes place in the desert. They could've done something about the original parts of the game though. While there are some new things put into this installment, all too much of it has been seen in the earlier games. For example, take a look at how the game handles running. I hoped for it to have a normal run button, but instead, the same "press x to run, and release when you want to change direction"-stuff is still there. Luckily, the most important flaws from the earlier WA games were much improved, such as battle system and plot/character development.

   What's more, there was a large improvement in the music and sound section. WA3 has an incredible soundtrack, far better than most other RPGs out there today. Once again, most songs have a "Wild West" feeling to them, but that's the way it is supposed to be. The soundtrack involves the whole package; sad tunes, happy tunes, perfectly fitting dungeon tunes that aren't too repetitive and so forth. Once again, this is another element that I was surprised over how well made it was.

The traditional anime intro
The traditional anime intro

   The older Wild ARMs had probably the ugliest fonts I have ever seen. Sometimes I couldn't even read properly, and there were a lot of errors and such. What's most important is that the older Wild ARMs titles didn't have any feeling in their dialogues. I couldn't sense what the characters actually felt, or in what kind of mood they were in. Luckily, this has all changed in WA3. Expressions, comments, punch-lines and body language are superb. Well done.

   Lastly, we have the visuals of this splendid game. When I first saw cel-shaded graphics, it was in a commercial for Breath of Fire V, and I thought it looked like crap. I can say that I hadn't really changed that opinion when I bought WA3... I was surprised. The graphics are flawless. In the beginning, it feels a bit strange, but once you get used to it, you'll love it. I was surprised over how fooled I'd feels a lot better when you actually play the game, instead of watching screens or movies. Shortly after, I bought Breath of Fire V, and I have no problems with those graphics either.

   To sum it all up, Wild ARMs 3 is a cool RPG, with lots of attitude. It's a very easy game (a little too easy at times), and a little repetitive sometimes, but all in all it's a great game. There is a huge (and I really mean HUGE) amount of side quests for you to do, including lots of puzzles and extra bosses. There is also a New Game+ option and another ending. To be honest though, you wouldn't want to play this game once more after completing it. You would probably want to do everything on the first run, and it's quite a long game (around 40 Hours at least, and I bet you could go as far as 100+ hours if you wanted to).

   I can't say if Wild ARMs 3 was worth the wait, because I didn't wait for it. It just popped up out of nowhere (I live in Europe, go ahead and laugh), and I bought it because I didn't have anything else to play for the moment. As you can see, it was far better than any of my expectations, and I highly recommend that you buy it, even if you have never played any of the other Wild ARMs games.

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