I’ve reviewed Wild Arms games before, and I like to start off by saying that the franchise is very special to me. The first game captivated me, besides being the first game I truely played, the plot of fantasy and adventure took me somewhere special. It was what got me into RPG’s and video games all that time ago, and ever since then, i’ve always seen the franchise as amazing. Be it the Wild West of the third game, the ambition of the fourth game, the politics of the PSP game or the plot and characters of the first game and it’s remake, there’s so much to rave about that it’s not even funny…and at this point, the franchise is under appreciated and under loved. I probably won’t change much, but i’d like to talk about why I think Wild Arms 5 is one of the best modern RPG’s out there (because we all know that there are some classics which just can’t be topped)
It’s hard to know where to begin here, if i’m honest. So I think it’s best that I start off with the plot. Wild Arms has always had a knack for combining a desolate, wild western themed setting with a ridiculously engaging sci-fi plot, and managed to create that feeling of adventure, mystique and journey in most of it’s games.This time around is no exception, with the main thing this time around being that there are two races: humans, and ‘advanced’ humans, called Veruni. The Veruni, originally belonging to the planet, left 12,000 years before the game’s start, and thanks to the natural process of evolution, have become a different kind of human. Those who have mutated consider themselves to be superior to regular humans, and enslave them and force them through a tough lifestyle, using their advanced technology and the like.It’s different the the other instalments in the Wild Arms franchise, but it feels very fitting. Themes aside, it’s kept the fashion of the characters fighting with sci-fi weapons, guns and having magical powers, and there’s even cameo’s this time around.
The above screenshot doesn’t lie. Every major character in the franchise is brought back in their original roles, all taking a new lifestyle in the new setting. There is a good reason for why this probably happened, but that’s a ridiculously huge spoiler, so just consider them bonuses. So, yeah. There’s a wall between two races, and that becomes the theme of this game, as our main character, after setting out into the world in the hunt of forgotten and lost technology can’t stand the injustice between them, saying that everyone’s human inside. Innocent and cliched it may be, but there’s quite an astounding amount of character development around this to the point where it doesn’t feel like it’s just been tacked on, but like it belongs in the game. On the main characters journey, he gathers five other people who join him, and they set out on their journey. On top of having the goal of bringing the wall down, the second female lead is an amnesiac, hunting for somebody called Johnny Appleseed, since that’s the only thing she can remember. Everyone gets character based development towards the plots, and they even get a little extra.
Some of the characters are included to be cute, some are included to drive the plot forward, and some are included to be cool. However, by the end of your journey, none of them feel shallow or one dimensional, even your classic childhood friend. I’d dare to go as far as to say that the plot would fall flat on itself if it didn’t have the character development, and if you can’t pick up the hints, the characters all get some quotes for the in-battle situations. Rebecca, pictured above, has a particular quote about getting a reason to fight for, and it’s the little things like that that help you to realise and understand how the characters are all progressing forward on this journey.It’s all amazingly done, and I loved some of the scenes…as for which ones, well, anyone who plays it will know which ones =P
The battling itself is a major part of RPGs, and this game is no exception. It uses a unique hexagon based grid to battle on, where characters take it in turns to execute actions. I appreciate that it sounds rather dull, but the fast pace that goes into the battles means that you won’t spend very long on many of the monster encounters that you see around, thanks to the customization and job specification that goes into the game. Most games have a job system, where you have a thief, a cleric, a mage, a swordsman, and so forth…the brilliant thing about this game is that whilst it does have that, it’s something that you can edit at will. You can make any of your six characters anything, even have a team of six clerics if you’re stupid enough to try. You can also equip characters with badges, and up to five of them, all influencing how they handle and what they do. You can increase their HP, their Speed, or make it so that their critical hits become a special move. The only thing defining you is the weapon that each character holds, but that’s something that you can easily work around.
Wild Arms 5 does everything with style, grace, and one hell of a soundtrack. It tries to do a lot, and there are moments where you worry if it’ll manage to succeed, but it throws all your doubts out the window with an amazing end project, with ridiculously well developed characters, a plot that can put most Final Fantasy ones to shame and a battle system that is fun and fast paced, without being overly easy/difficult. For me, it feels like my journey through Filgaia has come to an end, an end with cameos to remind me of our memories together, and a soundtrack that had me tapping my feet and making the hairs on my neck stand up during the parts where it wants it. My journey ended with style, grace and tears, and I urge everyone to go on the journey that i’ve been on. I can only hope for a future instalment into the franchise to get announced…