Wild Arms 3
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Media. Vision
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Wild West theme is a nice change
• Great music
• Puzzle dungeons add a change of pace
• Gimel coin save system is great

The Bad

• Fairly linear
• Towns could benefit from being bigger
• Search system on world map is tedious

 
Grade
B+

Virginia, Clive, Jet and Gallows are all Drifters who manage to end up on the same train at the same time. In the world of Filgaia, Drifters are wandering mercenaries that help out townsfolk, performing dangerous tasks for a fee. The four Drifters end up on the train, which is carrying one of the four Ark Scepters. While they have nothing in common, the four Drifters remain together through a series of events that gels them together as a team.

Visually, Wild Arms 3 is striking in its difference from the standard RPG. Rather than staying with the tried and true "swords and dragons" medieval theme, Wild Arms 3 is set in a world not unlike the wild west, where everyone is equipped with guns rather than blades. This same design style carries over to menu and text design. While towns and technology manage to retain this design, most of the dungeons still look a lot like the standard RPG dungeon in concept.

On top of the unique design is the fact that the game's characters and enemies are cel-shaded, which adds a striking contrast to the polygonal environments. Both monster and character designs are nicely done and the look of the environments have a good bit of detail. Unlike some games, Wild Arms 3 feels like a living world with lots of environmental detail. Probably the only thing that holds back the "living world" feel of the game is that fact that most towns are really small in size and only have a small handful of people walking around.

The gameplay behind Wild Arms 3 is your standard stuff, but with more than enough tweaks here and there to keep it from feeling stale. On the world map, players must hit the Square button to send out waves to locate new towns and dungeons. But, before you go aimlessly wandering about, you'll need to speak to people in the last town you were in to get clues about where to go next. While there are just only a handful of people in each town, you'll come to find that having to ask around before going anywhere just to further the story can get old. And, searching on the world map can become a tiresome chore of walking a few steps, hitting the Square button and walking some more until the new location materializes before you.

Once you do find a dungeon, you'll be pleased to find that most involve at least a small degree of puzzle solving. Each character has Tools (dropping bombs, throwing boomerangs to turn on switches) that they can equip to use in the dungeons to unlock doors. And from time to time while you're walking around, an exclamation point will pop up, warning you of an imminent random attack. You can hit the Circle button to escape battles, which will deplete your Migrant gauge. This gauge is limited and can be refilled through battle or white crystals found in the dungeon.

Battles are turn-based, where the player inputs actions for his side and then lets the turn play out. While the characters move around like in Grandia 2, you'll find that this battle system is just a more dynamic looking version of your standard turn based combat. Once you equip Guardians(not unlike Final Fantasy 8), your characters can cast magic, but only once their FP gauge has reached a certain level. To go along with this are Force moves, which include character-specific moves, including sharpshooting and summoning the Guardians. Using Force moves drains points from the FP gauge. These same Guardians also give each character augmented abilities that can be customized.

One of the nicest touches I found in the game is the use of Gimel Coins to save. You can use these coins to save anywhere, but they become depleted through use. Luckily, you can find them by defeating enemies or talking to people. Instead of being forced to find a save point, you can save at any point in the game, which is a nice touch for those who find the hunt for save points a tedious part of most RPGs.

Audiowise, Wild Arms 3 is fairly good. While there is no voice acting, the thematic music more than makes up for it. Most of the music is fairly catchy, so much so that you may end up humming along with it. Sound effects are your standard fare - they aren't overly spectacular, but hold their own.

Along with what was previously stated, the one thing that I really found to be a drawback with Wild Arms 3 was the noticeably linear way the game plays out. Unless you talk to someone, you won't know where you need to go and you can't accidentally end up somewhere prematurely. On top of that, you'll rarely want or need to return to previously visited towns except when the story dictates. Also, I found the dash ability (holding X to run in a straight line) an unnecessarily cumbersome aspect to moving around in dungeons or on the world map.

I would have to say that Wild Arms 3, while not perfect, is a fine RPG that fans of the genre should check out. If either the wild west theme or cel-shading turns you off, you may want to skip this title, but everyone else will be pleased with the trip through.

- - Kinderfeld

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