Review by Xenoedge7
"The sub-par game that nobody ever cared about..."
Or at least that's what most big name magazine editors and graphic nuts say about this little gem. While jaw-dropping graphics may be welcomed by me, their taking the place of gameplay and story, well, isn't. Sure, that great new summon may look great, but how many times is it going to be fun to watch? Video gaming is all about fun. This game is fun. This game is not Mr. Great Graphics. You can keep your 3 minute long summon, I'll just be sitting here playing Wild Arms 2, a game with a great story, great character interaction, great puzzles, and a feature that lets me skip all the random battles you'll be sitting through. Well, enough of that, on to the review.
I like bluntness in my reviews. The graphics on this game are horrible. How horrible? My guess is that my old NES might be able to do these graphics, or at least come close. The backgrounds, being sprites (You can't really make horrible graphics using sprites, but you can't make good ones also) are not too bad. However, the characters, enemies, and objects, which are made of rendered polygons, are a pain on the eyes. Spells on some NES games I remember looked better than this games simple half a second long effects. For some reason these simple spell effects brought a smile to my face. It could have been the fact that I don't have to sit through 3 minutes of spell animation for 300 points of damage. Yeah, that must have been it. My guess is that if you played any of the older RPGs or have been playing video games for a while, you'll easily be able to look past the graphical shortcomings of this game while focusing on the better aspects.
Only beaten by a small few, Wild Arms 2 has a story that is one of the most enjoyable epics I have yet to play through on any rpg, on any system, period. (And that's a lot!) It starts off having you pick between three different characters. No, there's not three different stories to this game, as they meet up after the first segment of the story. Ashley is on a special forces team and is heading towards a mission in an ancient ruin. Brad is a war veteran who is now on the run from the army for a number of reasons. Lilka is a magican (They have to be clumsy in every rpg, it's a rule...) who messes up with a teleportation spell and ends up in a weird dimension. After their little mini-adventures, they all meet up. Stories in rpgs always start out crappy, but this one ends up getting a lot better. Better sooner than later as this story picks up pretty quick. I will just say a few things it involves:Demons from another world, a large corperation, legends of heros of the past, the posible destruction of a planet, god and the devil, and of course we can't forget the forgotten past that every character seems to have in rpgs nowadays. Oh, yeah and a lurking demon inside the body of one of the characters who wants out.....and wants out now. Classic story here. Better than most square efforts. (Only Xenogears and Final Fantasy Tactics are better in my books...)
With such seemingly plain characters, there can't be good interaction right? Wrong. Sure, the demon lurking inside one of the characters isn't nearly as interesting as ID from Xenogears and Lilka isn't as cute and brittle as Vivi from Final Fantasy 9, but the characters in this game have a larger background history and interact a lot more than ID and Vivi ever did. It just seems more real. I'll take Ashley over Cloud, Squall, Fei, or Serge any day. Same with Lilka and Tifa, Aeris, Rinoa. They just feel better to see the lives of.
While not overly bad, the fights in Wild Arms 2 are just not much fun. The skill system is rather bland and there aren't many attacks to pick from. Or at least it seems that way at first. Luckly there are six characters with...gasp...different attacks that can be rotated in and out of battle at any time, even the middle of a turn. Add limit break type attacks and the need to get some attacks in before busting out with the power attacks. This makes fighting bosses a lot more fun than just fighting normal enemies. 26 different limit breaks, well over 15 summons, (Which don't take that long, and you can skip them), 32 different spells, and about 8 special attacks for most characters give you a large amount of attacks to pick from. Add to this that you get ability points after some battles which can be used in towns to give your characters abilities (No effect from poison, heal hp every turn, half mp usage, double hp ect.) and you get even more variety. Now wait, there's more. Before a battle your character gets a ! above his head for about 3 second...long seconds. During this time a quick press of the triangle button will cancel out the fight you were about you get into. No more random battles!!! (Sort of) I went through some areas without fighting a single enemy. This is an at least 35 hour game for the hardcore gamers out there and around 55 for newbies, so you'll be glad that they added the ability to skip fights.
Puzzles-10 (Hey, when's the last time I saw you?)
Puzzles are getting more and more rare in todays rpgs. Sometimes we get lucky and get three of them in a game. Well Wild Arms 2 has TONS of them for you. Now don't go thinkin' that you'll have to use your head 90 percent of the game. We're not talking Myst here. We're talking Zelda style. Makes you think a bit, but doesn't make you want to break your controller in half. Each character has 4 different tools they use to complete these puzzles. They range from simple things such as lighters to more complex things such as hookshots and electromagnetic rods. You use only 1 character at a time on the map, but you can switch with the simple press of start. Thats 24 tools to mess around with, just as much as any Zelda game. The puzzles are more interesting too.
Bottom line-If you play rpgs because Shiva looks cool, or the background graphics are amazing, then you most likely will want to stay away from this (great) game. If you play rpgs because of epic storyline, enjoyable characters, or dramatic moments, then you should get this game. I've played them all, and this is one of the best.
All around-9 (Only 2 games out of the hundreds I've played get ''THE'' ten)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/07/01, Updated 07/07/01
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