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



Scorecard
Graphics: 85%
Sound: 87%
Gameplay: 85%
Control: 86%
Story: 60%
Overall: 79%
Reviews Grading Scale
 
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Jude, the story's hero.
 
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Jude and Arnaud have a chat, man-to-man.
 
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Behold, the new and improved battlefield.
 
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A glimpse of the new battle system in action.
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Mike Wilson
Wild Arms 4
02/17/06
Matthew Boswell

Let me start out by saying this: I am a Wild ARMs fanboy, always have been, and always will be. Media.Vision and Sony Computer Entertainment always seem to make the most darn addicting character personalities that keep me around. However, I will start out by saying that this is NOT what kept me playing Wild ARMs 4. Now, let us dive a little deeper into the game and let me tell you why this is the case.

Enter the town of Ciel. You take control of Jude Maverick, the requisite village troublemaker. He is skipping class (naughty!) and well, he gets hungry. So what would a normal thirteen year-old do in a time like this? Go home of course! Well, sadly, Jude's mom has found out that he skipped class and well, she's not feeding him. So he decides to go berry hunting! That's where this whole adventure begins, as when he goes berry hunting he gets pulled into what some would call a clichéd adventure.

So he heads off berry hunting, and ends up in a place that he should not be– a soldiers' camp. Of course, being the very persistent thirteen year old that he is, Jude decides to check things out. When he does, he finds himself in quite the pinch upon finding a lone girl locked up. Of course, our hero decides to make it his duty to rescue and protect her... even though he has only known her for 5 minutes. Jude will eventually meet up with Arnaud, who originally came in to protect the girl, and join him. Though Arnaud really acts like he was pulled into the whole situation, you can tell that he is really a kind hearted guy who cares about his (new) friends. Jude and company ultimately end up protecting this girl from an organization known as the Brionac, who seem to have one major goal– the acquisition of ARMs research. What do they plan to do with this research? Well play the game to find out.

All in all, this game is very fast paced in terms of the story. You will get pulled in, find out who the enemies are and make allies fast. You will have all four of your party members within the first 30 to 60 minutes of gameplay. Nothing is hidden and there are very few twists and turns that will make your jaw drop. Not only that, but the game is very linear and very short, but as with every Wild ARMs game, there is a large epilogue with extra bosses and such for you to enjoy. My only gripe about the epilogue is that there is no 100 level abyss. Hopefully this will change with the upcoming release of Wild ARMs: Vth Vanguard.

Graphically, Wild ARMs 4 is much better than any of the games preceding it. The character models are detailed well and the cutscenes (however few there may be) are gorgeous. Voice acting of the characters was well done, especially for this being XSEED's first publishing. I was very pleased with the voice talents they hired and with their translation of the game. While on the topic of how things sound, let us go to the music. The music in Wild ARMs 4 is the standard fare for any Wild ARMs game. The themes are of the west and fit the game well. While I have no gripes with the music there is one notable exception– the opening theme. The artist who performs the opening theme is by no means able to hit the high notes that the theme requires. Thus, when she tries, she sounds like she is straining. I often find myself pushing start to skip the opening theme instead of watching the lovely animation, due to the lack of quality in the song.

Story and graphics aside, the gameplay in this game is simply amazing. There really is no other word for it. The HEX battle system is well thought out and will require players to do a bit more than smashing on the X button. When a battle begins, 7 hexagons are placed on the field – 4 non-elemental and 3 of varying elements. Your characters will start out in random hexes, sometimes together, sometimes apart. This is where strategy comes into play. Your spells, strengths and weaknesses all are reliant on what HEX you are standing on. If you have characters on a fire HEX and they are hit with a water spell, they will take more damage. Likewise, if they are hit with a fire spell, less damage will be taken. Not only this, but your spells and abilities (only a few mind you) are reliant on the HEX that you are standing on. If Arnaud is standing on a water HEX, his non-elemental spell becomes water based. Let's take another example: Jude's Ley Boost skill. Normally, when on an non-elemental HEX, Ley Boost will recover Jude's MP. However, when he stands on a wind HEX, Ley Boost will increase Jude's RFX (reflex), thus increasing his number of turns in battle.

There are shortcomings to this battle system though. First and foremost, Media.Vision and SECI definitely did not utilize it to its full potential. The game's overall difficulty is easy (as is the majority of the Wild ARMs series), thus you will find yourself not caring what HEX you are on as it really will not matter (especially later in the game). Second, the lack of elements makes it slightly less complex than I felt it should have been. There are only four basic elements that the three elemental HEXs could be. What about dark, light, ice and thunder elements? Lastly, if all of your characters start out on the same HEX, you are very vulnerable to enemy attack as any attack from an enemy will attack all of the characters in the same HEX. However, it works the opposite way too and the game makes up for it by allowing you unlimited continues should you die.

The platforming elements of the game are very enjoyable, however the destruction of the tool system from the previous games was not. Dungeon crawling in the game was enjoyable, however it lacked the intricate tool puzzles that the past Wild ARMs’ games have supplied us with. The old tool system worked as such: each of your characters were supplied with 3 or 4 (depending on the game) unique tools that would allow you to solve puzzles in dungeons. However, in Wild Arms 4, no one has any 'unique' tools that they can use. Instead, Jude is able to pick up things on the field and use them to solve puzzles. The problem with this is that it made the puzzles way too easy. You no longer need to think about what tool/item you need to use, as it is supplied for you in either the same room, or a previous room. Very seldom do you find yourself torn with a decision between two different items you would have to use to solve a puzzle. Some people liked this; however, I did not, as the game did not really make me use my brain as much as the past games have.

The removal of character specific tools was not the only change that you will see in Wild Arms 4. Remember the force ability 'Accelerator' that many of you are familiar with? Well it is no longer a force ability. Instead, you can use accelerator in dungeons. Accelerator allows you to 'speed up' Jude, which in turn slows down all the items surrounding him. This allows you to get past puzzles where bridges may fall too fast, where platforms may rise and fall too fast, or generally where you see things moving at hyper speed. Although it was fun to play around with, you did not really need to use it too much. Though, as an added perk, when you did use accelerator sometimes hidden gella would appear. As you collected this gella, it would chain, thus increasing the amount of every successive gella that you obtained while in accelerator mode.

After playing through Wild ARMs 4, I have to say, while not a bad experience, it most definitely was not a memorable RPG experience. The characters and story were both very clichéd, but the battle and dungeon system was fun. Thus, I feel it was an average experience. An average (and short) experience. Would I recommend it to someone who does not play a lot of RPGs or is selective of what they play? Probably not. Would I recommend it to someone who is not a Wild ARMs fan? Rental first. Is it worth $39.99 to a Wild ARMs fan? I would say yes.



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