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Wild Arms 3

Developer: Media Vision | Publisher: SCEA
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/15/02 | Genre: RPG

The latest installment in the Wild Arms series has landed on the PlayStation 2, and should help RPG fans get through the current role-playing drought. If you've never played any of the previous Wild Arms games, you're not alone; in fact, the series has always been a bit of cult phenomenon. It is popular with those who've played it, but the majority of gamers haven't given it a whirl just yet. The series prides itself on the rather unique blend of classic RPG elements in a Wild West setting.

The story in Wild Arms 3 tells the tale of the barren world Filgaia, and how the fate of the planet and its inhabitants will be decided by the actions of four drifters. Drifters are like mercenaries; they travel the wastelands of Filgaia in search of treasure, and take odd jobs for people who are willing to pay a handsome sum. Virginia, the heroine of the tale, sets off to become a drifter not fully knowing what she's getting in to. The rest of the party includes Clive, the wisest of the group; Jet, a rebellious youth; and Gallows, a priest who shuns his heritage. The four meet up on a train while trying to recover an ancient artifact, and in typical RPG fashion, destiny binds them together as they discover the truth about the world they live in and the demons who threaten it.

Wild Arms 3 plays very traditionally. Turn-based combat and dungeon/town exploration is the name of the game֠well ok, smarty pants, Wild Arms 3 is the actual name of the game, but darn it, you know what I mean. Anywho, fans of traditional RPG's will likely enjoy this title, and they shouldn't find it extremely difficult either. In combat, you have your standard attacks, you can use items, and you also have access to arcana (magic). Otherwise, it's just a matter of walking around, solving puzzles and chatting with villagers; sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it?

One thing that sets this game apart from the RPG crowd is the new graphical style that is used. By incorporating a very deliberate cartoon-style look, the designers have given the game a flair all its own. The backgrounds are sharp and colorful, and it gives the whole game a very smooth look and feel. The characters' designs seem to lend themselves nicely to the new technique and overall, things look great. Also, the special effects and lighting when using arcana are appropriately psychedelic. The overall layout of the towns and dungeons is also pretty good, and this, coupled with the brilliant color scheme, helps make the exploration aspect a bit less tedious.

Unfortunately, the audio in the game is decidedly average for the most part; oh why beat around the bush? Most of the music is downright horrid. There are a few excellent tunes here and there, but you'll wish they lasted longer and were much more frequent. Luckily, the sound effects are not nearly as bad. The sounds around you are appropriate and generally very well done, the guns in particular sound good during combat.

Wild Arms 3 does have a few other drawbacks that take away from the experience. For one, the combat is slow paced, even for a turn-based game. Characters and enemies will waste precious time by running around aimlessly between attacks. Also, the arcana effects are fun to watch at first, but the novelty wears off pretty fast, and when it does, you're left helplessly watching them over and over and over; somewhat typical of the genre, but annoying nonetheless. Also, the main characters aren't very exciting, and after the first hour or so, things slow down considerably; luckily, the game picks up steam as you play. One other shortcoming is the stupid 쳥archeature. Instead of being plainly visible on the overworld map, towns, dungeons, and other locations are hidden from view. You must emit search waves by pressing the X button as you travel. If something is within range, it will likely appear. Notice that says, it will likely appear; that's because if you haven't gathered sufficient information on a particular town or dungeon, you won't be able to find it even if you're standing exactly where it's supposed to be. This could really turn away any newcomers to the series.

Wild Arms 3 is a fairly average overall experience. The only thing that helps it stand out is the unique look. But if you were to delve a bit deeper, then you'd find a standard, yet satisfying RPG that doesn't push any limits, but manages to be entertaining enough to keep your interest. If you've got some spare time, you may want to rent the title and just finish it before you take it back. If you're a fan of the genre you may want to consider a purchase here. Suikoden III is probably the only other RPG you're playing, so you've got plenty of time to give Wild Arms 3 a try.

By Ryan Schaefer - 11/14/02
ESRB Details: Mild Violence
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Screenshots for Wild Arms 3

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