Big, Long, Hard, and Straight
Get your mind out of the gutter, I'm talking about Wild Arms. Sony's latest role-playing game (RPG) doesn't bring anything new into the fray, and is actually more like a compilation of all of your old favorites.
As we all know, the most important aspect of an RPG is the story line. Without a compelling story, there is no reason to play. Sony didn't go out on a limb with Wild Arms, the story is pretty much what you would expect. You control up to three people at a time, Rudy Roughnight, a 15 year old skilled in the knowledge of ARM's (weapons of mass destruction), Jack Van Burace, a treasure hunter in search of the "absolute power," and Cecilia Lynne Adlehyde, who has magical abilities. You are all out to protect the land of Filgaia from the incoming hordes of monsters. Yawn. If you're looking for a good story try Suikoden. On the other hand, something that usually isn't important in RPG's, graphics, are pretty darn good in Wild Arms.
If you remember Zelda on the Super NES, you'll be right at home with control of the characters in Wild Arms. Not only is it similar, it is practically the same. You can use items with one button and run with another. Unlike Zelda, Wild Arms is more of a traditional Final Fantasy style RPG. You don't see the enemies on the map, instead, you randomly encounter them in your journeys. The art is great in the overworld/map modes and is aesthetically pleasing. The fight scenes, unlike most RPG's are in 3d. The characters don't look amazing, and the only reason I believe the fighting mode was 3D was to get the game published in the US. Sony is denying games left and right that are only 2D, keeping to a "3D is what American's like" policy. The 3D scenes look OK, but I'm sure with the quality of the overworld art, the fight scenes could have been done much better in 2D.
Final Fantasy 3 had compelling music that brought you into the game. Wild Arms has short, repetitive, annoying scores that will just get to you, especially if you are stuck at a certain puzzle. Imagine hearing the same thirty-second song, say about... 300 times. It's enough to make you want to just break the CD in half. The sound effects on the other hand, are much better. They're actually acceptable and really won't bother you, but they're nothing to write home to mom about.
It's a very long game, encompassed in more than nine parts. Each part can take about 3 to 5 hours. Unfortunately, unlike the explorative aspects of Final Fantasy 2, you are on a very linear path. Every new town you go to has the new armor and weapon you are supposed to buy. If you don't buy it, you'll have lots of troubles with the next slew of monsters. Which brings me to another point, the monsters are varied throughout the different missions, but when you encounter enemies within each particular mission, it is often monotonously the same.
In the end, Wild Arms is just an average game, but in today's RPG deprived market, Wild Arms is the only new thing out for the PlayStation. For many addicts, that makes it a must buy, but if you have the choice, spend your money on Suikoden instead.