RPG Review #35: Wild ARMs 3

NuMetalManiak
Wild ARMs 3, also known as Wild ARMs: Advanced 3rd, is the third game in the Wild ARMs series, and the first on the Playstation 2. This game ends up being more of a sequel than Wild ARMs 2 was to Wild ARMs 1, due to some references to both games. I generally enjoyed this one.

Gameplay: The mechanics in Wild ARMs 3 were the same ones employed in Wild ARMs: Alter Code F, which I played prior to this. However, Wild ARMs 3 came out before that, so if anything new needs to be said, there really isn't much. World and dungeon navigation are pretty much similar, as is the ENC and VIT gauge in use. Shopping for items in Wild ARMs 3 is actually a bit of a hassle considering that the one shopkeeper in the whole game roams around the towns in Filgaia (the world) and that there are no healing items. A sidequest can be done to grow those sorts of items. Like in other titles, there's a turnable compass (used in Grandia, Wild ARMs 2, Xenogears, etc.) as well as character tools.

Combat is like Alter Code F, turn-based, but with the correct strategies, battles go smoothly. In this game, all four playable characters have arms, or guns, so they can shoot, and reload by defending. Each character can also invoke mediums to gain access to that guardian's Arcana ability, which encompasses the magic part of the game. Aside from that, the battle menu can be used to set up mediums in battle or changing turn order. Each character also has a special Force ability, as well as a Gatling and a Summon ability, either of which can do heavy damage to a single enemy or all enemies, respectively. Killing enemies with elemental Arcana nets off elemental gems as a payoff, usable as offensive items, but sometimes better for selling. And yes, the booby-trapped treasure chest can sometimes be opened at a risk.

One new thing in Wild ARMs 3 is the sandcraft. It's the sea ship of the game, only here, the sea is made of sand! Put certain characters in a position so that in random encounters, combat becomes a breeze. Other methods of transportation include using the railroads (oh come on, a Wild West RPG has to have this, and Wild ARMs 2 only had one brief train ride!) or Lombardia. Lombardia also came from Wild ARMs 2, but there are times where enemies take to the skies as well! Certainly unexpected, although combat is again easy with the right tactics. Aside from this stuff, there's a hefty dosage of sidequests, most of which net EX File Keys which can be used for New Game+. Notably, the Telepath Tower sidequest involves searching, and unique ALIEN encounters, and the Abyss, like in Alter Code F, is composed of 100 floors with staple boss Ragu O Ragula at the bottom. This time, the Abyss is composed of randomly generated floors, where the player has to get five crystals to open up the next floor. Like other Wild ARMs titles, the game has a lot to offer. Grade: A-

Characters:
Virginia Maxwell: The sole female lead of the game, being the leader of the Drifter group. She uses two revolvers in combat and her special force ability is Mystic, used by Cecilia and Lilka in games prior, where item effects are enhanced. In combat, she's the speediest character, but also the weakest. She's got a good MAG stat, but most of the game, I usually use her as an emergency healer or let her defend or something.
Jet Enduro: Jet's the cold one in the group, in it for the sake of money, but also an amnesiac. His machine gun arm is awesome and does a ton of damage, and he's the second fastest character, but his magic stats are probably the worst. He has the Accelerator force ability, used by Jack and Ashley in games prior.
Clive Winslett: Oldest member, with a wife and a kid. Clive is the sniper of the group, the calm, incredibly slow, but very powerful member. He wields a sniper rifle and has Lock-on as a force ability, used by Rudy and Brad in games prior.
Gallows Carradine: He hails from Baskar Village, a recurring Wild ARMs town, and is the best character at magic, but usually the second slowest. He has a good HP total and excellent magic power, but his sawed-off shotgun does pretty low damage. I use him for his magic, especially his Extension force, which extends a spell to all targets as necessary.

The game has a share of several other characters. Friendly characters include Clive's wife and kid, Virginia's father Werner Maxwell and Gallows' brother and grandmother. There's a lot of villains though, and here's the worst part, the majority are recurring bosses. There's Janus Cascade and his group of Drifters, Maya and the Schrodinger family (more like rivals, actually), and the weird Prophets. There's also the dream demon Beatrice near the end of the game. Also returning from Wild ARMs are Zeikfried, the Blue Menace, and Asgard (he's a villain this time). The game has some enjoyable character development, but it gets quite tiresome when you fight the same guys because they won't die or something. Grade: B-

Plot: Virginia is first seen riding a train, and then three other playable characters attack! Cue prologues, which have been around since the other games. Virginia gets a treasure back from some Gobs, Jet is searching for treasure, Gallows is trying to make sure he's not useless in his family, and Clive's out monster hunting. Their so-called fated encounter on the train gets interrupted by Janus and company, and hey, the four playable ones are allies now by coincidence. Janus is found several times later on in the first chapter of the game, like any villain, he's a hero stalker. They search for the demon shields while the rival Schrodingers and Janus are also looking for them.

At the onset of Chapter 2, Janus is working for the three prophets, Leehalt Alcaste, Melody Vilente, and Malik Bendict, each with their own agendas but similar goals. It's clear they are the villains we'll be seeing for quite some time. Also Janus has a more demonic form too. We get to see Virginia's father, as well as the Schrodingers several times. At the home base of the prophets, Janus is fought one last time (he is fought like eight times during the whole game, it gets annoying), as are the Prophets. But they aren't down yet, and Zeikfried makes his entrance at the end.

In Chapter 3, the Prophets have more demonic forms thanks to Zeikfried, and the playable characters start to learn about Filgaia's history. The Schrodingers are simply there because Maya is half-crazy and wants it for herself. The heroes gain access to Lombardia around this time. At the climax of Chapter 3, Maya is kidnapped and the Prophets are each fought for the last time, with Malik trying to resurrect his mother and Melody clamoring for beauty. Those two fall just before Deus Ex Machina comes into play, and there, Leehalt and Zeikfried eventually fall.

The final chapter has Beatrice as the central villain, the one responsible for several actions, including helping get rid of Zeikfried! The four dungeons that follow are "realization" dungeons for each character. Gallows makes sure his brother Shane doesn't make a stupid sacrifice, Jet figures out his motivation, Clive helps rescue the party after a brief desertion, and Virginia ends up finding the truth about her father. Confronting Beatrice at the final dungeon, it turns out she was building her own version of Filgaia. Who would've thought the final boss would be a whole planet?

That being said though, the story really wasn't all that exciting, and the recurring villains did not make things better. What REALLY was interesting was the fact that the whole plot had no romance whatsoever, and managed it quite well too. Grade: B-

Music: I always enjoyed Wild ARMs tracks, and while I think the first two games killed it with the music, this one isn't bad either. The overall feel is a bit like Alter Code F, in that it's exciting when it's exciting and that it's boring when it's boring. Grade: B-.

Overall Grade: B

Fans of Wild ARMs, or jRPGs in general, should give this a try. It's mechanics offer a lot of strategy in combat and that's a spin that although is seen in RPGs, it's excellent here. The playable characters are wonderful, but most of the other ones aren't. The enemies are quite stale too, but all in all, it was worth a play.

And because I don't have much else to do, here's my RPG bucket list which I plan to play for the next games.

Tales of Destiny
Sailor Moon: Another Story
Lufia: The Legend Returns (Review coming up tomorrow, I'm almost done with this one)
Chrono Cross
Suikoden III
Final Fantasy VI

Comments

Why is your username numetalmaniac? Why not RabidRPGFan? - Skullkid755