Wild Arms XF
Platform: Sony PSP
Publisher: XSeed Games
Developer: Media.Vision
Genre: Strategy RPG
Format: UMD
Release: US 03/11/2008
Japan 08/09/07

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Neal Chandran
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Neal Chandran

Since 1996, the Wild Arms series has imparted a unique flavor to the realm of Japanese RPGs. The blending of the American wild west with the anime style of traditional Japanese RPGs is a Wild Arms trademark that series fans have come to know and love. Gunslingers with cowboy hats coexist with kingdoms and magical creatures in the world of Filgaia, and it works. Although Wild Arms XF returns gamers to the world of Filgaia, as any Wild Arms game does, it marks two unique departures for the series: it is the only Wild Arms game on a handheld platform and this installment is a strategy RPG in the vein of Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics rather than a traditional RPG like the last five (six if you count Alter Code F).

The world of Filgaia is dying and the various kingdoms are warring with each other over the remaining vestiges of natural resources left in the world. Amidst this turmoil is the kingdom of Elesius, which has managed to remain stable and neutral. However, the king of Elesius is terribly ill, his son has gone missing, and with uncertainty as to who will inherit the throne, the various political bodies of Elesius are vying for power. The story focuses on Clarissa Arwin who, with her half-brother Felius, comes to Elesius in pursuit of the man who killed her mother and stole her legendary sword. What starts out as a young woman's quest to avenge her mother will put her in the middle of an epic struggle beyond her expectations. The game promises to have an involving story filled with political intrigue. This should be interesting to see in a Wild Arms title.

Where the last few Wild Arms titles have presented Filgaia in 3D polygonal glory, Wild Arms XF's graphical style is quite retro: Screen shots and trailer movies show environments rendered in 2D 16-bit style sprites and tiles (albeit hexagonal tiles rather than square tiles) and spell effects and animations are not flashy, but look fine and get the job done. Cutscenes appear similar to those of visual novels where 2D character portraits appear over static location screens and engage in dialogue. The anime character designs have that distinctive Wild Arms style particularly reminiscent of more recent Wild Arms games. The music played on the US website has plenty of whistling characteristic of the series. Other music played there and in the various trailers has that anime meets western sound that is distinctly Wild Arms. The game reportedly has a lot of voice acting and there is an option to select between English and Japanese voices.

The gameplay promises to be deep with a reported 20 different character classes, eight of which are described on the US website. Secutors are strong melee characters with weak magic skills. Elementalists are weak physically but know a variety of elemental magic great for exploiting enemy weaknesses. Fantasticas are generally weak, but specialize in stat buffing skills. Gadgeteers can manipulate items in ways like increasing range to use one item on several party members. Sentinels have very high defense and can reduce enemy mobility. Sacred Slayers are akin to white mages who specialize in healing magic and magic that's effective against zombies. Excavators can scavenge for items and Geomancers are adept at finding special areas on the maps that boost certain elemental properties. This is merely a fraction of the classes available. Various materials can be found in battlefields that can allow players to create items and equipment.

Battle maps are expansive and contain a wide variety of terrains and obstacles that may help or hinder battle progress. The D.E.R. (Direct Event Report) preceding a battle gives gamers and overview of the upcoming battles as well as suggestions regarding what kinds of classes, items, and equipment to take into battle. There are two types of "Arts" in the game. Formation Arts are strong combination physical attacks executed when your units are in a particular formation around an enemy. Combination Arts are combination magic attacks executed when multiple mages lock onto and cast spells on the same enemy. According to other media outlets' information regarding the game, the flow of battle does not follow the traditional "player phase/ enemy phase" format. Each character reportedly has a RES value that not only determines when s/he can move but also how often s/he can move as well. Wild Arms XF boasts over 60 missions with plenty of optional sidequests so gamers should expect a lengthy game.

Wild Arms XF was released in Japan last year and US gamers can check it out when it hits store shelves mid-March.


© 2008 XSeed, SCEA. All Rights Reserved.

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