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WildARMS 2nd Ignition

Publisher: SCEA Developer: Contrail
Reviewer: Tigerof Released: 09/02/99
Gameplay: 88% Control: 95%
Graphics: 80% Sound/Music: 90%
Story: 69% Overall: 75%


This review is about the specifics of Wild Arms 2nd Ignition. I'll be covering everything about this RPG from its graphics all the way down to its ideas. This game was greatly anticipated after its predecessor came out all those years back and achieved "RPG of the Year". The game is back with a new story and very new characters while slightly keeping the same playing ability that you received from the previous game. I had some very high expectations in this new game compared the to first. I was in for a major surprise when I immersed myself within the plot of this particular RPG.

Control

First, I'll talk about the games control. When you play it, it's everything you expect out of an RPG; fast paced movement, no slow downs, quick and accurate responses from your input commands from the controller, and mechanics just like the game's predecessor. There are some changes to the control, but it almost has the same basic movement as in the first game. Dashing was one of Wild Arms' best ideas implemented into the game. When it came to dashing, Wild Arms made it possible for you to get to places a lot quicker, and it was possible to corner while you dash if you knew how to stop and dash just right by holding down the X button. In Wild Arms 2, the dashing method is the same. It felt and played exactly the same as the first and had very little trouble from this.

Camera control, however, is a new function placed in this RPG. The control is pretty fluent and doesn't deter from the gameplay of the title. It isn't bothersome like in some RPGs such as Breath of Fire 3, where you constantly have to rotate the camera to see your surroundings and find areas that need to be accessed. The only problem with moving the view around is that the camera freezes your character for a second while it spins. It doesn't freeze you for more than a second, but some people might have a problem with this. It's still a nice feature. If you feel like moving the camera around, then a button press will give you a quick rotation without hindering the pace of action to the point of frustration.

The use of certain tools like in Wild Arms 1 has the same idea. Tools are special items each character receives from either obtaining them from other NPC characters or they find them within dungeons. The use of tools varies from hitting far away switches to finding treasure chests. The game's dungeons are now designed with tool use in mind now instead of just going through the dungeon to find the switch to a far away door. One of the main characters has throwing daggers to use to hit far away switches. Some switches can be across bottomless pits and you won't have a way to hit it except to use the daggers. Sometimes, the dungeons have you angle your shots to hit the switches with the dagger or whatever other tools you need to proceed. Effort is taken into plowing forward now with the use of the many tools in the game. The only thing they needed to add in this game was new ideas in the field. Maybe have your characters be able to play some sort of card game with some of the townsfolk or have some other type of mini-game so you wouldn't get bored of leveling and running through the story. Other than that, everything stays the same with a little more difficulty with using the tools.

Battle actions are typically the same. It's just as smooth as I had expected. There weren't many problems at all for me in the area of battling monsters. It was fast and furious.

Graphics

The game has some very nice looks in terms of its graphics now. It looks a little more professional in a lot of ways. The in-game character designs, for one, are very nice looking and very detailed. They have facial expressions to show how they feel. The characters are colorful, bright, and look really good.

The game's battle graphics are very nice and beautiful looking. Each of the characters displays their actions. The only problem I see with the battle graphics is that whenever an enemy or an ally takes a hit, they show these very flashy light effects--which is ok at first, but then it gets way too repetitive after each and EVERY type of hit. It's like they tried just a bit too hard to make it look spectacular. I also didn't like the way the attacks and spell casting was animated. They seem to just wave their hand and they do a special attack or use an item. Also, the spells themselves could've been changed into different spells. What I mean is, instead of using a single spell multiple times in a spell against all of the monsters, they should've made it look totally different. For example, I cast a fire spell called Fire Pillar towards a single enemy and I think to myself "I want to hit them all 3 of them instead", so I'll go ahead and cast the multiple target spell. When I see it in action, it shows me 3 Fire Pillars hitting the 3 monsters. It was a disappointment to see that. It couldn't have hurt to make it look like they're using different spell effects. The backgrounds in the battle look natural enough for you not to complain about. It's there and it doesn't give off any strange glitches. The battle graphics won't annoy you that much because you concentrate more on battling, but the fact remains that they were underdone.

The dungeons, however, were a lot better. The layouts of the dungeons in this game were surprisingly reminiscent of the first Wild Arms game. They had all of your same traps to lower your HP level such as ground spikes, retracting spears within the walls, hot lava spots on the ground and more. They also added more ledges to the pits to make exploring more difficult. They looked pretty much the same as the first. The game has more floating objects for you to cross rather than just walking across solid ground and speeding everywhere. The objects looked flawless from what I could tell. The dungeons were something I enjoyed looking at while searching and finding my way through them.

The overworld has definitely changed in comparison with this game's predecessor. There are good points and bad points about this though. I'll start with the good stuff. The overworld is a little more like most RPGs have them. It's a 3D world where you can run around. You can find areas easily. The way it looks is very colorful and bright. It seems to almost illustrate the beauty of the world in the game because of the colorful scenery. Now I'll explain the bad points. The pixel quality seems a little blocky on the world map compared to walking around in town. If you rotate the map, sometimes, it'll show you how bad it is. The pixels occasionally seem like they fall off of the characters and the scenery around you. This could've been done better. Other than those small details about the overworld, it's good enough to play through but leaves a little to be desired.

In Wild Arms 1, the game welcomed you with a very nice looking anime opening and catchy music. You'd pretty much watch the opening every time you started the game. In Wild Arms 2, there's no opening at the menu screen, which was so stupid. That's what I said and thought to myself before I started the game. When you go to start a new game or load a game save, you see something surprising. There's an anime opening! There are two openings to the game, actually, depending on what disc you're on. Both openings are really nice. The animations are so symbolic and represent the game really well. The characters are also represented in both of the openings. The first opening has a soft music track with it showing one of the main characters in his many different phases. It also shows other interesting characters that play a role with this main character. It's a pretty moving opening because it almost shows what this person goes through with himself. The second opening is more action packed with more of the other characters that join your team later on. They look nice and the opening also displays the other party's personalities through battle. Monsters in a deserted area for example surround Brad, one of the main characters. Instead of just fighting back, it shows that he has a powerful will to live and loves to fight. You can depict your own meanings from their expressions. My point is that each of the characters in these openings shows full expressions of will, anger, sorrow and determination. The best part about the openings is that there are two of them. When you see openings to a game that involve hand-drawn art, you often expect to see more cut-scenes like that. This game doesn't have much of that. In fact, I can only remember one cut-scene dealing with the story and that was when I was switching to the second disc. You can tell right there that there are not many cut-scenes in this game. It's a disappointment because I really hoped they would put a good amount of them in. Sadly for this game, there isn't any really.

Sound

An RPG has to have good sound to go with the attacks, spell effects, town sounds, etc. to complement the game's feel. Wild Arms 2 fails in that department. I'll begin with the battle sounds. The fight starts and you see your enemy ready to pounce on you and you're ready to strike. Once you've selected a regular attack, you go in for the first blow. When you hit him, you hear a weird piercing sound with your slash-type weapon hitting him. Instead of sounding like a slash, it sounds like you just punctured the monster. It sounds so weird that it's almost hard to describe. It's horrible. When you see someone punching you, you hear something that's close enough to a punch sound but it's still off. It's as close as it gets with this game. The spell effects are just as bad. Some of the spell effects sound like the punching sounds I was just mentioning, so it's ugly to listen to. Also, the spell sounds are too repetitive. For example, I use a water spell called Ice. It'll sound kind of like an ice spell attack but when hitting the enemy it makes that punch sound again. When I use another spell, however, it sounds exactly the same. The battle sounds re-use the attack sounds too much so it seems like you're using the same thing over and over again rather than using a different attack. The re-use of these sounds won't drive you crazy though. It'll make you wonder more about why they weren't able to make up and use other sounds for different attacks within the battles.

The sounds when running around town are different. The town sounds, such as dashing, running into walls, using special items from your submenu and using your tools sound pretty accurate. They sound like what you would expect. The dagger, one of the tools within the game, when thrown at a wall sounds like it should. It has either a clang sound if you hit metal objects or a piercing sound if you hit a switch. Dashing sounds like what it should. There's nothing annoying here at all.

Where it failed with battle sounds, the music made up for it entirely. RPG music plays a major role in any RPG. You can't play an RPG well if the music just plain sucks. The music in Wild Arms 2 sounds great. The musical scores sound really upbeat at times and perfectly fit the moods to certain situations with the change of story. Sometimes the music makes you feel ready to go out and stop the villains of the plot. Other times, the music has a sad feeling to it that brings your emotions in with the current track. The music is really nice and fits the game well. The dungeon music in this game sounds just as good as in Wild Arms 1. The town music is fair and comfortable. The game music is definitely good. It exhibits natural emotions of happiness and anger. It's one of the reasons why I decided to buy this game's soundtrack.

Speaking of the soundtrack to this game, if you plan to buy it, you might be disappointed as I was. The music is fine except for one major error. Like most soundtracks to games, the music loops enough times for you to get the full enjoyment of that particular track you're listening to. The soundtrack to Wild Arms 2 doesn't loop at all. When I put one of the CDs in my CD player, I was overwhelmed at seeing 74 tracks on one of the discs. Now I know why. Not once do any of the songs loop. They start to play and just when you start to hum to your favorite tune, it fades off into the next track. Putting the track on repeat doesn't help at all because of the fade-outs between tracks. I was amazed at how lazy these people were with this soundtrack. It's as if they rushed these soundtracks out to make money rather than give the people what they want from the soundtrack, which is listening enjoyment. It's really screwed up. If you like the game music a lot, then I suggest that you buy soundtrack anyway. If you like the game music but don't love it as much as I do then you might as well just turn on the game.

Storyline

As any person would know, a RPG has to have an interesting story keep your hands on the controller. A RPG has to follow the footsteps of its previous game. The story in this game is, well, ridiculous. Now I only say that because I've played the first one and I loved it. I was expecting the story of Wild Arms 2 to follow the previous game but that's not even the case. I'll drop some knowledge about the first Wild Arms game before I go into details. Wild Arms is about three special people who came together to defeat an ancient race of mechanical demons with the help of powerful elemental guardians. One of the three allies was a treasure hunter, one was a princess, and the last one was an outlaw, but in that game, outlaws are widely known as Dream Chasers. You already know what the other two are all about. The princess is what her title specifies: a young girl who is the daughter of a famous king. The treasure hunter hunts for the world's treasures but also has more of a background than just being a treasure hunter. The dream chaser in the game was the type that did all kinds of things from bounty hunting, to exploring the continents. This specific dream chaser, however, had to power to synchronize with special weapons called ARMs. The ARMs were special guns that only specific people could use. It was a forbidden and lost technology. The three came together under fate to stop the demons from taking over their planet, Filgaia, from rotting it of its beautiful life. The three beat the demons with the combined power of the people's love for their home planet and the guardian's powers. The story in Wild Arms 2 has a similar theme, but you can't really call it Wild Arms 2. This games story is about three characters that came together under a similar fate as such in the first release. The thing that makes this story a bad one is that there's no relating info about anything or anyone from the first game. It also doesn't have what the first game did have in terms of story such as the forbidden technology, the guardians, or even dream chasers. The game doesn't mention the struggle for the planet against mechanical demons. They don't mention the guardians having fought against the demons either. There's no such information about any of that. Instead, they start off with three new characters, each with unique backgrounds. The three names are Ashley, Lilka, and Brad. Ashley is a guy who was in a military militia raising his rank becoming better, stronger and more knowledgeable to become a great soldier. Lilka is a sorceress who came from a town of wizards studying magic. She's also the sister of a famous sorceress. Brad is an ex-hero from a famous military who was captured due to military corruption. You find out about each one as you progress through the plot. The way they meet is like the way the meet in Wild Arms: completely by fate. They later join together to form a group called ARMs. After getting to know each other, they do some research. They learn of a woman named Anastasia who saved the world with a powerful sword called Argetlam and the help of a guardian named Lecied. They also find information about a demon named Knight Blaze, who's also known as the Blaze of Disaster, who tried to destroy the planet. After they do their research, a terrorist organization named Odesa comes almost out of nowhere to take over the world. ARMs' objective is to stop this threat from scaring the people and put an end to their quest. Now, the story would be good if it had something to do with Wild Arms 1, but it doesn't. It's not really a good idea to make a sequel to a game that had an entirely different story. It used same theme, but the story isn't related to Wild Arms 1. Another thing that sucked about this game's story was the symbolism portrayed in it. It was a good touch to put the symbolism in the game in the first place because Wild Arms 1 had that. Wild Arms 2, however, has too much of it. It has so much, you feel as if they're ridiculously babbling. Sure, some of the symbolism has to do with the game's story, but what's the point of using so much of it when less than half the RPG players hardly know what the heck they're talking about. They rant on and on about their personal ideas that reflect on the story, but it's too much and that's where it gets annoying. People don't want to read windows of useless trash they hardly understand. It's not too bad because you just began your quest, but once you know the story, they get upset about how they feel about the enemy and about their ideas. It's like you're listening to an explanation about scientific theories. Now, I only say this story sucks because of two main reasons: it has nothing at all to do with Wild Arms 1 and because of the over exaggerated symbolism used in the game. You'll be able to follow the story fine, but when they start yapping about ideals, just keep hitting the X button. If you were to play this game without knowing about the Wild Arms 1 story, then it's good enough to play the game and enjoy it.

Gameplay

Gameplay! This part is going to be a little hard to explain. A good RPG needs to be clear, straight to the point, and not too overwhelming. This RPG is fairly simple to play. The battles are easy to navigate through if you're familiar with Wild Arms 1. You just select your commands and go with the flow. For those who don't know, I'll explain how it feels going through it. The game is Turn-Based Combat. You have your HP, MP, FP, which are Force Points and then you have your Force Techs. The Force Techs are powerful attacks or special commands used to assist allies or attack the enemy. Each person has four Force Techs. They'd be used up after using the force attack or special. There are four levels of force attacks. Level 1 attacks are the weakest while 4 are the strongest. The bar builds as you attack, defend, and use items. The speed at which it increases goes slow or fast depending on what you do. If you defend, then it will build slower. Attacking builds it faster. The higher you build the bar, then the sooner you can access your characters' strongest attacks. When you're fully charged you can use a level 4 technique which would drain all of your FP. If you use a level 3, then you drain 75 FP. If you use a level 2, then you drain 50 FP. They have the same Force Tech System in Wild Arms 2. Unfortunately they changed it slightly. Instead of having MP for using magic and special attacks, you use the Force Tech. There are still 4 levels of force. This time, the force bar itself is counted as your special tech spending. The force bar can fill up to 100 FP. You have special attacks or spells that are supposed to use up a certain number of FP and you have your Force Techs. When you use a special, you'd expect it to drain down your FP like you would drain your MP in most Final Fantasy games to use spells. In this game, it doesn't drain your FP when you use a special attack or spell. Let's say you have 75 FP and you have a special attack that uses 50 FP. You go ahead and use it and attack the monster. When you look down to see how much you have left (normally you'd have 25 left after using up your points for such an expensive attack), you see that you still have 75 FP. The bad side to this slight change is that it makes battle too easy. I hardly used my Force Techs for anything except to support my special attacks. Force Techs are supposed to support the special moves anyway, but it makes the fights easier. When you use a Force Tech, of course you lose some of the force bar depending on what level the tech is. It made the last boss too easy. It was more like fighting a monster with a lot of HP. Just because the fights are easy doesn't make this game a waste of time though. There are secret monsters to challenge your gaming strategy. Be warned, these monsters aren't just some jokes. I thought they were, but I fought the weakest one and it's incredible how much damage you take from him. There are around 30 secret monsters in which you can get some of the best items from. Most of them don't drop anything. You have to find out which one has a special item the hard way. Most battles last a while just because the enemies have lots of HP.

Another thing about the battling is the way you can summon monsters now. In Wild Arms 1, everyone could summon their monsters from runes they equipped. Now, only one kid can do that. He joins your party later and learns a special ability with a pet of his named Pooka. In order to summon monsters at all, you have to have runes equipped. Without a rune, that corresponding character can't get Pooka to change into summons. Pooka replicates the guardians and their powers. Summon damage is pretty low in the game. The summon effects are really nice to look at. You'll see one guardian, with a sword, slash all of the opponents while another guardian will smash through the ground to make a gravity attack. The only way to summon the creatures from the runes of each person is to have the runes equipped and have Pooka with you in your party at the time. Without him, you can't summon guardians at all.

A cool idea that the developers placed into the game was the ability to switch out party members while in battle. You can have any character you want in the battle. It's only three at a time, but you pretty much have all of your characters ready for the fight. If you want to use your favorite character and forgot to switch him or her in before a fight, then go right ahead and select a little icon that says "Switch" and you can switch'em in right away. The good side to this is you're able to save units from dying. It's also a good way to use certain characters as trump cards. If you're losing, then you just bring in your trump and have him or her destroy everything or weaken your enemy. The only problem with switching in and out is that you can't heal the people in the back and it kind of makes the battles a little easy. I don't have a problem with the switching in of allies. I hardly use it. I'm not used to actually being granted the power to switch in allies in place of others in battle. It's a hardly used idea. Developers already know the ease of battles if players get to switch in allies whenever they wish.

One good thing about this game is that it kept a lot of the first game's originality (the Force Tech System) and also kept the items the same. You will find in this game the exact same type of healing item as in the first like the Healing Barry. It made me wonder "Why didn't they do the same with the story for this game?" They added a few new items to spruce up the game's image a bit and make it more fun. You have items that can teleport you to other towns. You have items that heal more status affects. The weapons and equipment are the same like in Wild Arms 1. You just equip weapons and armor that correspond with the limb you need to equip on like the weapons for your right hand, accessories for left hand, armor, helm, and your runes. The runes, like in the first game, are back. They changed the names of some runes for unknown reasons, but guardians are still the same. You equip them to increase stats. Depending on what rune you equip with the guardian on it, it changes your stats differently. Some increase only your response time and evasion, some your strength and attack power, some vitality and defense and sorcery and magic resistance. Some of the runes you find will increase a lot more. If you find the right ones like in Wild Arms 1, they'll increase all of your stats. The change to runes in Wild Arms 2 is that they made duplicate runes for everyone to use. In the previous game, there was only one of each rune. Now you can find two or three runes of the same type. The item navigation is also exactly the same as the first game. It's easy to go through and doesn't waste your time.

The submenu is kind of the same. A new status window shows you everything your character is using, what his stats are, what type of upgrades he has to his Personal Skills, and a lot of other stuff. Navigation, like I've stated, is fair and simple. If you need help on what something does, then press the Triangle button at any time to show the help tab and it'll give you a brief explanation of what an item does, what a stat contributes to, or what the icon you have your cursor pointed on means. The submenu system is explained in the manual also if you have any further problems.

The Personal Skills system is new to Wild Arms, giving the player a little bit of customization in terms of building their characters. Instead of just leveling, you have these points that you earn per level. These are Personal Skills or PS. The PS you earn allow you to increase that character's parameter stats such as resistance to status attacks, increase max HP, increase magic resistance, increase defense and other things. You get one point per level and you can spend them in shops that are found in towns called Personal Skill Shops. Depending on what you want to increase, the price differs. Let's say you want to increase Lilka's physical defense, then it would cost more for her to increase that than it would your other characters because she's weak to physical attacks. PS works like this: each parameter has a certain amount of times you can increase that stat. Most of the parameters have three levels max. Some have four depending on what character you're improving. Each level costs a small amount of PS. The cost raises as you level that skill. One you've maxed that skill, then it won't allow you to put any more points into it. You'll have to waste points elsewhere. This is what makes the game interesting. It gives you full customization of your characters. It'll give you something to do and think about while you level.

Conclusion

All RPGs have a lot to offer and this RPG does also. This may not have lived up to its predecessor, but it did strive to make some type of mark in RPG history. It may be a little on the easy side, but it is an RPG worth checking out or buying for those who've never heard of Wild Arms or played the first game before. If you played Wild Arms 1, then you'll be as disappointed as I was when playing through it.

Tigerof

Wild Arms 2nd Ignition plays like an anime, complete with ominous looking goodguys and badguys.

The puzzles can be difficult, and the camera angles a bit wonky, but it balances fairly well.







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