Wild Arms 5
Platform: PS2
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Media.Vision
Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 08/28/07
Japan 12/14/06

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He's just so happy! Let's not tell him he needs Valtrex.
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HEXing it up.
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As always, puzzle solving is a big part of Wild Arms.
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"Box!" just doesn't have the same ring as "Barrel!"
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Dennis Rubinshteyn
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Dennis Rubinshteyn

Since 1997, Wild Arms has always offered a unique take on the traditional RPG setting by incorporate wild west elements and even some sci-fi. Wild Arms 4 was especially noteworthy because it introduced a lot of new elements such as the strategic HEX battle system. Now the fifth installment is coming, thanks to publisher XSeed, and it refines what the fourth game has established and introduces some new concepts.

The game follows the adventures of Dean Stark and crew. Dean is an adventurous, if somewhat nosy, lad for whom the world "golem" brings excitement. He wants to see the world and dreams of becoming a Golem Hunter like his hero, Nightburn. One day, he and his childhood friend Rebecca are out at Celestial Peak when a golem arm falls out of the sky. In the golem's clutches is a girl named Avril who's holding a strange ARM (gun) and who wishes to seek out Johnny Appleseed. Not ones to turn down an adventure, Dean and Rebecca set out with Avril on a journey throughout Filgaia to find this Johnny Appleseed.

The graphics are in the same style as Wild Arms 4, but have notable changes. The character models have a very stylish look and are well animated. The world of Filgaia looks better than ever with loads of detailed scenery, and the world map is back. Although the in-game graphics look great, this installment of Wild Arms, sadly, lacks anime cutscenes.

Michiko Naruke, the composer whose name is almost synonymous with Wild Arms, is, sadly, absent as well. In her stead, Wild Amrs 4 composer Masato Koda along with Noriyasu Agematsu are in charge of the music. The music still has heavy western themes, but other genres of music are occasionally heard such as jazz, techno, and even some heavy rock. The opening song is sung by Nana Mizuki and XSeed kept the original Japanese vocal.

One thing that remains relatively unchanged is the HEX battle system, albeit with some improvements. For those who didn't play the previous game, the HEX is a basically a battlefield consisting of 7 hexagonal grids (called fields) where each character moves in a grid and takes various actions. Allies can group together in a grid and perform special group attacks, but if their field is attacked, the entire group receives damage. In Wild Arms 4, characters can only take one action per turn, but in Wild Arms 5, you can move and attack in the same turn to make fights less tedious. HEX fields change properties during boss fights to add strategy. Up to three party members can engage in battles and party members can be easily swapped out during battles. A nice convenience is that party members who did not participate in battle still get full EXP so character levels stay pretty even. Battles occur randomly, but defeating a boss called Sol Niger in each dungeon can turn the random battles on or off.

With the return of a world map, the search feature from Wild Arms 2 and 3 is back. Since towns and dungeons are already visible, the search feature is used for finding hidden chests, puzzle boxes, and sometimes, a key item. You can also move while searching so it's a lot easier to cover more ground.

Each party member can equip a magical device called a medium, which gives the character stat boosts along with abilities. As a character levels up new abilities are gained, but abilities can be also learned in advance by spending points. Each character has points equivalent to his or her level, but each point spent reduces their HP. You can easily take the points back at no expense.

Wild Arms 5 has the potential to become yet another solid installment for the series. It offers solid improvements while still retaining the elements that series fans know and love. Gamers can expect to return to Filgaia on August 28, 2007.


© 2007 Sony, Media.Vision, XSEED Games, All Rights Reserved.

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