Review by chandlerbing
"The wild west comes alive again!"
Wild Arms 3 is the latest installment from Sony's range of RPGs set with the wild west theme. It takes place, like previous games in the series in the world of Filgaia but it is a different Filgaia to the ones we know. The game begins with a girl called Virginia travelling on a train when a commotion occurs in the tram where a previous artifact is being kept. It is here that Virginia bumps into three strangers and it is here that triggers a journey of her own that leads on to involve wider consequences than is first though. What is so important about the artifact and why are people looking for it? Only when you play the game will you find out the answer to this and many more questions to come.
The battle system is at once familiar with anyone who has played Wild Arms 1 and 2. It is completely turn-based and with the regular attack options you can raise your FP (think of this as the traditional MP from other RPGs) so you can use stronger and more useful skills whether it be magic or unique skills specific to the character. There's nothing special about the system but it works well in what it does and new gamers to the series will be able to pick up on it fairly quickly.
There are plenty of side-quests stuffed into this game so you can often find yourself diverting from your planned course of action to participate in some of these diversions. Doing these side-quests will reap you rewards that you can gain from completing the game. Play the game and take some time out to participate in these optional stuff and you will be rewarded.
Something that returns from Wild Arms 2 is the Search System. You as the player need to locate the towns/dungeons yourself with directions from specific NPCs and this option forces you to do the exploration which is no bad thing. But every now and then, directions and places where you need to go are vague leaving you with the sense of not knowing where to go next. Personally I am not too keen on this system but as a device to encourage exploration, it is a good thing.
There are some really good characterisation in the game and this is most apparent (and important) in the four main protagonists - Virginia, Clive, Jet and Gallows. None of them are wasted or put to one side because each of them contribute in some way to the storyline as a whole. In some RPGs, you feel that some characters simply tag along with the party for no real reason at all but not in Wild Arms 3. Each have a story at some point or another.
At times, Wild Arms 3 does feel like a dungeon crawler with you completing one dungeon/temple and moving onto the next and so there is a bit of repetition in terms of game progression and tasks you need to fulfill. Some players won't mind this, some do so whether this factor affects you or not depends on which group you fall under. Also towns are uncharacteristically bare with only a few inhabitants living in few houses but this point is just nit-picking rather than a complaint.
The graphics are a definite improvement over the blocky graphics of the past Wild Arms games and this time, adopts cel-shaded graphics that looks pretty darn neat. Credit has to be given to the creators for the presentation of the battle sequences. The use of camera shots in battles are handled extremely well and really does give an intense feel that your characters are really in a battle. It is like watching a battle sequence from a movie - it is that good (well, almost!)
Awesome soundtrack and renditions of the classic Wild Arms theme tune. The lonely whistles and echos of the tune is hauntingly beautiful and makes for an effective throughout the game. The theme song during the intro is equally fantastic and does the game justice in setting up the Wild West as ultimately, a lonely and melancholic place.
Worried about the black borders? Well, worry not! You are given the option to play the game in either PAL or NTSC video mode. And since most TVs today can support NTSC, many PAL gamers can play this game in glorious full-screen! So there's no need to complain about borders when you've got the full-screen option.
Generally speaking, the game's length is on par with the general length of most RPGs nowadays (40 hours) but it may be lower/higher depending on the gamer themselves. There are plenty to do in Wild Arms 3 in terms of optional stuff that helps to raise the overall time you spend on the game.
Wild Arms 3 is a well constructed game that stays true to the series. The Wild Arms series may not be very well known in the explosion of RPG games onto the games market during recent years but they managed to hold their own. It is nice to see this game reach PAL shores despite Wild Arms 2 not having made it here in Europe at all.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 03/22/03, Updated 03/22/03
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