"A [Hero] By Any Other Name..."

I would like to begin by stating that a game cannot simply be judged by numerical preference, not many people provide valid information about a game, they simply state, ''I like the battle system 10/10, I hate the story 4/10.'' leaving a sort of empty review. I am not here to tell you how great the game is. I am here to tell you how great the game is, in my humble opinion. So unlike the others who have their process of judgement upon Graphics, Storyline, Gameplay, Replay value and so on and so forth, I will simply state to you, my feelings about this game.

Most often, in Console RPGs, there is a generic system in which all [insert number here] party members are given a general focus and individual storyline. But not often do they unite, often times they simply just fight together and this does not suffice for friendship. Wild Arms 2, however, is the ''breaker'' of the mold. The story begins it's focus on Ashley Winchester, Brad Evans or Lilka Eleniak and later comes to one single point. But by doing this, they place more emphasis on the problems, and endeavors of each character in the game. Ashley, a mercenary for a military faction known as Arms, finds himself struggling quite often through this story, facing problems with a female, love-interest, trying to accept the deaths of many of his former military team-mates, as well as facing a world crisis. Now, typically, don't all the RPG heroes face these problems? Well, of course, but the incredibly written style of Wild Arms 2 not only places emphasis, but truly sparks emotions by touching the true emotional hindrances of facing these problems through philosophical ideology which each character tends to put forth. They often pitch in ideas about why people feel the way they do, in the situations they are faced. One thing that I particularly love about this game is the fact that the characters, by gathering information, they deduct the problems at hand and attempt to decipher the plot by their own reasoning. They need no gods or villains to reveal plot twists and when they do, it is only for extreme purposes, such as to reveal something which hasn't even been sparked upon.

The plot is so immensely detailed that every last problem in the world comes back to one main tie. Emotion is heavily played upon in this story, desire, lust, dogmatic worship and even patriotism. But the most incredible part about all of this is that the characters often do return to one another for advice, a shoulder to lean on and most importantly, friendship. Not often do you see this type of unification between characters and it is incredibly heartwarming to see such in this game.

I love playing this game, because you never get bored of the gameplay. Yes, I'll admit it, the battle animations are somewhat lagging and most spells are identical to one another. For instance, Tim's Lores, Marivel's Red Skills and Lilka's Magic spells are most often identical in looks, while named completely different. But the idea behind this is that there is no universal magic system. Every character learns their form of ''magic'' in their own way. There are so many aspects to gameplay that you will never be bored. For instance, even leveling up, normally a chore, has become a source of fun. For every level a character gains, they earn a point towards personal skills. And these skills can be quite useful, causing a character to be immune to any status effect, or even having a higher HP growth rate! Not to mention that you can teach two of your characters ARM techniques and upgrade them accordingly. There is an enormous amount of hidden monsters, bosses and dungeons, most of which depend on the use of tools which characters also gain throughout the story. Tools allow characters to access parts of dungeons or cities that are not normally accessible by conventional means.

The world map is heavily used and contains approximately 60 different dungeons and cities to explore. Not to mention a well thought out system which makes you think about how to acquire access to a particular place at a particular time.

I love games that incite intelligence and give out just as much effort that one puts into it. This one takes the cake as one of the most impressive games I have ever played and will remain so until I find any others that touch me as this one has. Rarely have stores affected me so, but this one, is an original one. It focuses upon the aspect of defining the word ''Hero''. (Hence the title. I'll bet you were waiting to find out what I meant by that eh? ^_^) Ashley must look within his heart to find the right reasons to continue. So not only must he be faced with defining a hero, but he must also define the meaning of ''consequence''.
And contrary to popular belief, I think Ashley is as manly a name as any. =Þ

I give it a 9 out of 10 in my overall because while it is incredible in so many aspects, battle can become quite tedious so it kind of causes parts of the game to lag, considering that battling is about 60% of the gameplay in any traditional RPG. But all in all, I seriously hope that many of you consider playing this game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/08/01, Updated 10/08/01

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