Review by Shirow
"The 9th Heavenly God reviews the 9th best RPG out there"
Wild Arms : 2nd Ignition is the sequel to the title of this game minus the 2 last words. The prequel had been absolutely fantastic and in terms of innovations, remained unbeatable thanks to new battle systems and lots of new features. Now, that the sequel is out, expectations are high while Orochi K is low [OK, he knows this doesn't make any sense but he couldn't help himself - besides, the point is : what can you do about it ?!]. Well, Orochi K finally reviews the game after playing it and after thinking that maybe he should review it to let you, bored GameFAQs member who likes reading reviews, what he thought of the game in general ! Wow, was that the word ''Review'' used 3 times in the same sentence ?!
A look at the cover and surprise overtakes the cute face of Orochi K, the Ninth Heavenly God as stated in my sig. Now, don't those characters look like those of Wild Arms without the 2nd ignition. Things don't start really well for the game but Orochi K can be pretty understanding at times, he decides to insert the game in this PSX and glances at the back cover while this stupid Gameshark device loads the game. Some info plastered over the back cover actually manages to reassure Orochi K. More is said about the 3 main characters who go about the name of Ashley, Brad and Lilka. There are other characters or so it seems, thankfully. Ah, a note about how they look a lot to the cast of Wild Arms but wait a sec, is that sentence ending with a question mark ?! Yikes, even the editors actually don't know…Still, Orochi K has payed for the game and he's gonna play it even if he needs to die.
Thankfully, Orochi K held on to his seat when the game finally loaded because otherwise, he would have fallen down and broken his nose on seeing that magnificent intro. He even reset the game to watch it twice just to let you know how much Wild Arms 2's intro rocks. An anime intro featuring the 3 characters : Ashley walking in a desert with that huge sword of his [which he probably stole from Sephiroth] ; Lilka doing nothing ; and Brad, who seems to suffer from a genetic malformation in his arm. A stunning intro that immediately makes Orochi K wish he had put a tape in the VCR to record it and watch it over and over again.
And as Orochi K plays on and manages to grasp the storyline of the game in a miraculous attempt that remains inexplicable up to today, he gets even more amazed because this RPG is way better than what he had expected. The gameplay is solid, the game is as innovative as can be and Orochi K is having fun. So, how does Wild Arms 2 fare in the category dominated by SquareSoft with the likes of Final Fantasy or Chrono Cross ?
PLOT : 8
Follow Ashley, Brad, Lilka, Tim, Mariabel and Kanon as they set on a journey to learn more about themselves and to prevent the world from becoming a mere marble as shown in the ending of Men in Black. Each character has his own reason for being here but as they get to know each other and understand each other's motives, they all decide to unite their forces and to travel together. Ashley is the main hero of the game. Understand by this that he wields a sword, he has love affairs to deal with besides having other problems of his own and he's wet behind the ears. Lilka is a pseudo-magician who wishes to become as good as her older sister but that doesn't prevent her from being annoying. Tim belongs to a tribe and has hidden powers which he isn't aware of himself. Mariable has extreme abilities which will make her essential in your party. Kanon starts out as your enemy and proves to be too much a challenge but eventually, realizes that she was wrong all the time and decides to join forces with you.
What an amazing cast indeed ! But none of those can compare to who I consider to be one of the best characters to have ever been created in a RPG, I'm talking about Brad. The dark character of the game, he starts from a jail and always keeps to himself. He never shows his feelings and his best friend is himself. However, as the story is unveiled, he turns from the mysterious and dangerous man to a hero and earns the respect of his comrades. And his ARMS abilities sure are fantastic !
INNOVATIONS : 8
Wild Arms 2 brings forwards a few interesting concepts which, should there be a WA3 on PS2, are bound to be kept. First, there is the ARMS concept on which the game is based. All your characters have specific techniques and these can be upgraded through battles. Needless to say, these techniques are essential and without those, don't even think about getting midway in the game. Ashley's skills rely mainly on his swords while Brad will have powerful shots that will prove very useful in certain battles.
The search system in Wild Arms 2 is a very innovative one but it can also get annoying after a while. You can use your radar and press a button to discover items or money on the world map. While this may sound fun, wait until you know that you even have to search towns and locations using this same system. Hence, you'll have to use the indications you have and do your best to find where your location is and once you think you have it right, place it on your map for further exploration. If it doesn't show on the map, it isn't there and that's all.
Some key items must also be searched this way and let's say it frankly, while it's a neat system at the beginning of the game, it can get pretty annoying after a while. Firstly, the hints are not as easy as they appear and considering how the world map is big, it takes a lot of time to be able to locate these so-called items. And since you have to find those…But still, it's a nice feature but maybe the developers exaggerated here !
Then, there are the tools which you need to progress. No tools, you remain stuck…Each character has 2 of those and each has its uses. Tim's tool is hands down the best since it enable so-called summons which are by the way a real beauty to watch and, in any case, useful against the bosses. Very interesting indeed !
GRAPHICS : 8
With such a magnificent intro, Orochi K expected to find good graphics in the game. Well, he wasn't deceived but hey, he wasn't overjoyed either. The characters are wonderfully drawn but the SD system was surprising in the first stages in the game. But as yours truly progressed in the game and had a tough time dealing with the enemies - er - bosses, he changed his mind and actually found those to be a good idea indeed. The characters are excellent in their outfits and graphically, Orochi K has nothing to complain about.
OK, you're probably wondering why he went as far as to give it only an 8 then ? Orochi K is feeling happy today, he agrees to explain why but he doesn't guarantee that you will understand though…While the game has good graphics and backgrounds overall, it could certainly have been better, specially during the second disc. The world map is a blatant example of how the developers rushed through the later stages of the game. Even the towns seem out of place due to weird colors and surprising folks who seem to come from Marvel Comics [although Orochi K never featured in these, he doesn't have anything against those but that's the only thing he could think of !].
But the rest is excellent though and the light effects will keep your eyes wide open and prevent you from sleeping. The bosses' appearances are probably one of the best moments in the game. Instead of just appearing along with your characters like in any other RPG [and God knows how many there are !], you'll first see a black screen along with their shadow. They'll then attempt to amaze you with some freak movements while their name will flash at the top [or is it the bottom ?]of the screen. They'll then appear in their complete ugliness and it's time to say your prayers.
MUSIC : 6
OK, Orochi K knows Nobuo Uematsu can't be everywhere and not all teams can produce excellent soundtracks like Da Man but does that allow Orochi's ears to be hurt after 5 hours of gameplay ? The battle theme is what annoys him most. It gets irritating after a while and if he hadn't been petrified due to too much gaming, he would probably have destroyed both the PSX and the TV. It's not that the theme is bad but it is really annoying.
As for the music itself which isn't very varied, it's only decent but don't expect to find some outstanding music in here or you'll keep searching all your life. There are some nicely done themes, all of which are the melancholy or slow type, but nothing exceptional and you'll soon forget there ever was music in the game. Oh well, you can't get everything at the same time…Wait a minute…Oh yes, you can !!
GAMEPLAY : 8
The last act keeps getting nearer and nearer and as this happens, Orochi K gets happier and happier [yeah, it does happen but very rarely…]. With a lot of events, monsters, secrets and heart-stopping moments packed on 2 discs, you can bet all your money you're going to spend a lot of time on this game. The first disc is extremely long but never gets boring. The second disc is played through more quickly but the final boss will make you break your joypad and bang your head against a wall to relieve from the stress. Wild Arms 2 is a great long RPG that you will enjoy playing and Orochi has no doubt that you won't be sleeping for the next new days. In any case, he'll stop by to wake you up if you happen to do that mistake !
REPLAY VALUE : 3
Despite all its innovations and secrets, Wild Arms 2 has, sadly, little or no replay value to offer. Firstly, the secrets are not that essential and are really not worth it. Secondly, once you've played the game through and seen the ending, the tedious search system and bosses will refrain you from inserting the CD one more time [except if you just wish to watch the intro once more time]. Also, once you've beat the game, you'll unlock all the movies in the game which means that as long as you're bright enough to keep the save file, you can watch those whenever you like !
OVERALL : 8
Wild Arms 2 is a very good RPG and even better, it managed to keep Orochi K busy and to make him happy, something unheard of before ! All has been said but sincerely, if you manage to see this game in a so-called store and just happen to like RPGs [and who doesn't ?!], shell out your bucks and bring it home with you. And start playing right away !
That said, WA2 also has a few flaws but the good points outweigh the bad ones and will make you forget of those very quickly. In any case, the 9th Heavenly God reviewed an outstanding RPG and he bets the developers are dancing with joy wherever they are. Hey guys, can he dance with you - his way of showing how much he liked the game and please give him a sequel…or DIE !!!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/11/01, Updated 11/09/02
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