Review by Fiefo!
"In one word: AVERAGE"
While there isn't really anything wrong with the game, nothing seems to come out quite right in the execution. Everything is just... well, average! This definitely cannot stand up to the juggernaut RPG's on the Playstation that come out, namely Final Fantasy and Lunar, which the games seems to try to emulate but fall a bit short on delivering.
The game uses the 2D sprites with a 3D map style when exploring the gaming world and dungeons, and shifts to full 3D polygon action when the party runs into encounters. The sprites of the characters and the NPC's are pretty colorful and have great detail (like Lilka flapping her arms to keep her balance when on the edge of a platform), but gets kind of pixelated when the camera zooms in.
The battles scenes are OK. The monsters are detailed and so are your characters when they get ''polygonalized''. Each attack done is colorful, but the animations are pretty limited. There are a lot of spells in the game but, like I said, the animations get recycled... different name for the spell but same animations. There are summon spells but they are definitely not as flashy and dramatic as in the Final Fantasy games. One more bad thing in the fight scenes is the camera. Sometimes it just goes out of whack and doesn't show what's happening to the opponent or what you're character is doing.
The game also sports animated cutscenes... actually 6. The anime is clean but not as magical as the ones seen in Lunar. Don't get me wrong; they are good... but lacks a certain quality that Lunar gave me.
Music is pretty good and suits the scenery. If you go to a peaceful town, like the initial one, Meria, the melody played is a soft smooth song. If you enter a tough town, like the western town of Damzen, the music becomes tough, too. But the songs aren't really that memorable.
Sound effects are done OK. Not bad and not really that good. Wild Arms 2 has it's share of loud explosions and slashing sounds. But maybe it could have had more ''ooomph'' than it has.
The bad thing in the sound department is in the anime parts. You instantly notice the lack of voices. I know, the music is good... but you just feel that there should be someone singing and not an ordinary guitar playing in its place. Sad, really.
This is where a game is made or broken. Once more, a very mixed bag of pros and cons in this department.
One thing: NO ANALOG CONTROL! Sure, its not really a big deal, but it's pretty odd that there is a game released in this time of age without analog support. There are times when it couldh've been done (the characters run a lot!), but they failed to put it in.
Wild Arms 2 does add something new: the search command. In order to find things (like towns and dungeons), you have to press the square button and, if an object is in range, it will appear in the map. Good idea. It helps to hide the many secrets areas in the game so exploring is done really well.
In the dungeon scenes, you can switch which character will do the actual exploring. This is important because each character has a different set of tools available to him/her. For example, Brad has the kick boots, which are helpful for kicking things out of the way or pushing you from objects. Lilka has her Fire and Ice Rods to start and put out flames and Kanon has a Wire Hook to get across chasms. This is where you can see the individuality of each character.
Another thing I like about Wild Arms 2 is that you can actually avoid random battles practically everytime! Before an encounter occurs, an exlamation point appears over the character. Pressing the square button will cancel the encounter. Pretty neat!
All the characters are pretty well-designed but static. They have their own personalities but never really suprise you. One of the great things about Final Fantasy and Lunar is that the charcters seem to battle their own inner demons and overcome them in the end. No such thing here. They have the same personalities up to the end.
One of the problems with the 2D on 3D system is that it feels pretty... blocky. You know you can stand there and pass there... making things very easy to explore dungeons. While playing the game, I never really felt excited in finding a new secret area in the dungeon. It looks pretty obvious that you should climb here... do this and that, etc.
Puzzles are pretty fun to solve, though. Since each character has his or her own set of tools, it feels good to figure out that you need this charcter to do this and switch to that character... but they are pretty obvious.
Sadly, the dungeon and towns are pretty bland. Maybe it's the western setting that the game has... they all seem a bit bland and doesn't have the same magic as that in Final Fantasy. But I do feel that the dungeon designs are better than the ones found in Lunar... but not by much.
Final Score: 6/10
While not the best RPG out there today, Wild Arms 2 has enough features to make you want to play it. The main problem with the game is that it doesn't seem to try hard enough. It comes of average when compared to the other heavyweights in RPG gaming, but Wild Arms 2 is definitely NOT A BAD GAME! It's better than a lot of the other crappy games out there... because average will beat crap anytime!
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 07/02/00, Updated 07/02/00
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