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Wild Arms 4
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: XSEED
Developer: Media.Vision/SCEI
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 01/10/06
Japan 03/24/05



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Meet Jude, the story's hero.
 
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Jude and Arnaud have a chat, mano-a-mano.
 
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Behold, the new and improved battlefield.
 
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A glimpse of the new battle system in action.
Mike Wilson
Hands-On Preview
12/31/05
Mike Wilson

Last month Wild Arms fans were rewarded after a long wait with Wild Arms Alter Code:F. Fortunately for these fans, another Wild Arms game is coming to North America on January 10, 2006. Hot on the heels of AC:F, Wild Arms 4 is a completely different experience. It retains the Wild Arms feel, but takes the series to a new level by adding action and strategy RPG elements.

Story-wise, Wild Arms 4 feels like a spiritual counterpart to Wild Arms 2. It is about a young boy named Jude who lives in a village in the sky with his mother. One day, soldiers invade and Jude learns that they are holding a girl named Yulie in captivity. While trying to rescue Yulie, Jude meets a cocky young man named Arnaud who is also trying to free her. Upon returning to the village, Jude and Arnaud face off with the soldiers, and Jude accidentally comes into contact with a strange substance, unlocking within him a deadly weapon---the ARM. Without spoiling too much, the sky village ultimately meets its doom, and Jude, Arnaud and Yulie are thrust into the real world of Filgaia, which lies in ruin. They are hunted by an organization called "Brionac," a group of skilled warriors who are after Yulie for unknown reasons. While on the run, Jude and his friends slowly start to unravel the mysteries behind Filgaia's ruin and Brionac's motives.

In the field, Wild Arms 4 is a platformer at heart. From the beginning, it is instantly reminiscent of the Klonoa games. While exploring dangerous areas, Jude moves along a guided track that winds through the area like a snake. Obstacles will occasionally bar Jude's way, and he can either jump over or slide under them. Jude can also double jump and perform a devastating stomp that destroys objects like crates and pots. At first, it's a little strange to imagine platforming in a Wild Arms game, but so far, it feels great, and it's fun.

The series' trademark "Tools" also make a return, but this time, they have changed. Jude will find tools such as swords and bombs lying throughout dungeons. He can pick them up and use them to his advantage. For example, in one of the game's early dungeons, Jude needs to clear some debris out of his way to continue. He must pick up the bomb, light it, and blow up the debris in order to keep going. While this system sounds simple, it can actually get complex, forcing you to think instead of just zooming through dungeons.

Jude can also manipulate time with an ability called the "Accelerator." By pressing R1, he can slow down time around him, causing the screen to turn blue. Money will also appear, too, in the form of little white balls. The goal is to collect as much money as possible before time runs out. As you collect coins, your reward is multiplied by the number of coins you grab. The Accelerator function also has a puzzle-solving side, too. Jude will need to use it to slow down dangerous objects so that he can safely pass them, or to collect special items before they disappear. For example, in the first dungeon of the game, there is a collapsing bridge that can only be crossed by slowing down time.

The game also features voice acting. There are cutscenes littered throughout the game in which the characters speak in full dialogue. There is dialogue during battle, too, even from the regular enemies. From what has been heard so far, the acting is decent and there are only a few bad characters who stand out.

Let's not forget about combat. WA4's battle system has almost nothing in common with the games of old. The battlefield is divided into seven hexagons, three of which have an elemental attribute. The entire party can occupy one hex, or you can spread them out across the battlefield. The same applies to enemies, which means you can attack several enemies at once if they are in the same hex. The flip side is that enemies can do the same to you, too. This system is easy to learn, and is surprisingly deep so far: no battle is the same.

Wild Arms 4 has a lot of promise. It is a step in a new direction, but so far, its unique gameplay, battle system, and story are on par with those of the rest of the series. It may be different, but it still has the Wild Arms charm. Stay tuned for our full review of the game closer to the game's release date.

Mike Wilson
Preview First Look
01/17/05
Mike Wilson

The Wild ARMs series has always been a unique RPG experience, mixing RPG gameplay with a "Wild West" theme- a theme that stands unrivalled in a genre cluttered with sci-fi and fantasy adventures. While the series' visuals were never flashy, the series has always been praised for its exceptional storylines and Western-themed music. The newest game in the series, Wild ARMs: The 4th Detonator (originally known as Wild ARMs: Another Code: F) promises to continue building on these strengths, but may surprise fans with an interesting directional shift in the series.

The story in The 4th Detonator chronicles the adventures of four characters: Jude Maverik, Yulie Ahtreide, Arnaud G. Vasquez, and Raquel Applegate. Although little information has been revealed about these characters, their actions speak louder than words. Jude, the game's protagonist, can jump, slide and stomp while in the field; abilities new to the series. Videos of the game show him jumping around like a maniac, suggesting that the gameplay will involve more action than its predecessors. This new aspect could possibly take the series' infamous puzzle solving to a whole new level.

The battle system in The 4th Detonator is completely new. On the battlefield, characters are placed on hexagonal-shaped cells of different colors, each with its own elemental attribute. To attack, you must target the enemy's cell instead of targeting the enemy directly. This means that you can attack multiple enemies simultaneously if they are in the same cell. From the trailers, the battles look pretty intense, with more enemies than usual occupying the field at one time. This strategic overhaul is reminiscent of many SRPG battle systems, which could suggest that the battle system will rely on brains rather than brawn this time around.

Visually, the game looks impressive. The graphics seem to take the cel-shading style of Wild ARMs 3 and adds a few touches via a more realistic engine. The game's artistic direction looks smooth, too: the series' glamorous character and concept art is back in full fashion. When talking to NPCs, their hand-drawn portraits are displayed next to their dialogue. While this feature appeared in Wild ARMs 3, these pictures seem to glow with more color. Now fans can only hope for the return of the series' lavish anime cutscenes. It should also be mentioned that the game has a more "modern" feel; the series' trademark Western theme is gone.

Fans of the series will be extremely pleased to hear that the talented Michiko Naruke will be returning as the game's music composer (a sample of the game's music can be found on the official website.) Naruke's acclaimed Western-themed music has always been a staple of the series, but now that the series is moving away from its roots, it will be interesting to see which direction she will take her musical style.

With action-oriented gameplay, an engaging battle system, sharp visuals, and a promising soundtrack, Wild ARMs: The 4th Detonator may be a breath of fresh air for RPG gamers next year when it leaps onto shelves. A stateside release has not been confirmed, but the game is set for release in Japan on March 24, 2005.



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