Review by ShinCyan

"Solid RPG, but a little dissapointing."

I had really high expectations for Wild Arms 2. Its predecessor, Wild Arms, had taken everyone by surprise with its great graphics and fantastic gameplay mechanics. Considering that the game was released back in the playstations infancy, I had expected Wild Arms 2 to build off the original and exceed it in every way. Unfortunately, Wild Arms 2 doesn’t really do this nearly as well as I had expected it too. But it’s still a sold RPG and definitely worth a look, especially if you were a fan of the original.

Like the first, the story starts off by having you play out scenarios of the three main characters; Ashley Winchester, Lilka Elenia, and Brad Evans. However, you will come across six other playable characters through the course of the game, unlike the original. The stories decent, but nothing write home about. Basically it’s just you’re typical boy wants to be a hero, boy meets up with some friends, and they all wage war against an ambitious evil type. To its defense, they did a good job with some of the plot elements, and a few of the main characters are well written. But still, it just comes off as being so cliché, and I couldn’t get over some of the really lame names given to a lot of the bosses and characters. Lord Blazer, anyone?

The graphics are decent, but again, nothing special. Whereas the original had a sort of uniqueness in its presentation, WA2 appears kind of ordinary. Not to say they’re bad, as the characters and locales are colorful and detailed. They just appear to be way too similar to other Playstation RPG’s. The battle sequence graphics are nicely done though. Especially the bosses, whose large size gives you multiple targets to focus you’re attacks on, and adds a little bit of strategy. But it’s in the cut-scenes where the graphics really shine. The anime sequences are awesomely done, I only wish they had put in more.

The sound, following suit with just about everything else, is strictly average. While it does do a good job of setting the atmosphere of the various locales, there’s really nothing that stands out. Unlike a lot of other Playstation RPG’s, WA2 really doesn’t have any songs that can stand on their own and still make you want to listen to them.

What the game does do well is build on the great gameplay of the original. This game puts a lot of emphasis on dungeon exploration. Some of the puzzles found are pretty challenging, and not just of the flip the switch, find the key type. The tool system is once again in the game. For those who haven’t played the first, each you’re characters will come across three tools that they can use. These range from throwing knives to magic rods, and are incorporated nicely into finding solutions to the various puzzles

The battle sequences are a lot like the first. They’re your standard turn-based fare, but with a few unique features. Each character has their normal attack, and four special commands they’ll earn through the course of the game. Some of these are unique to the character, while others can be used by everyone, such as the summon spells. How you go about using them is brings a certain strategic flair to the battles. Instead of your traditional AP or MP, Wild Arms 2 uses FP or force points. By accumulating these in a battle, through either the use of an item or dishing out or receiving damage, your characters will be able to use their special abilities. Each ability requires a different amount of FP, going by intervals of 25 up to 100. Charging up for these and knowing when to use each one is the element in winning battles.

New to the game is the search command on the world map. Places you wish to go to will not be visible on the map till you use the search command in it’s general area. This can also be used to locate hidden items and such. At first this feature can appear to be annoying, but once you get used to it you’ll come to find that it’s incorporated nicely in finding secret areas and items. And there are secrets aplenty in Wild Arms 2. It’s a pretty deep game, as there’s loads of sidequests you can undertake which lead to locations, and bosses especially, not necessarily having to do with the story. This gives the game a lot of bang for the buck value.

So even though it’s just merely adequate in many ways, Wild Arms 2 is definitely worth a look from fans of the genre. The great gameplay is more than enough to out weigh the bad, and all the extra stuff that’s thrown in will ensure that you get your money’s worth. Still, with all the mediocrity present, and the high standards set by the original, Wild Arms 2 comes off as just a bit disappointing

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/31/00, Updated 05/31/00

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