I recently played this game and part three back to back and now I am working on five (have not played the first two games in the series). Back in the day, I thought this one was better than part three; however, I think I do now give a slight edge to three. Granted it is very close call to be sure. In that game the main annoyance was the searching for locales, but with the internet it is not too hard to get an online guide and find the exact coordinates to each place. The story was a bit better in that one and just seemed to have a bit more substance to it. This one though is very unique as it replaces the overhead map of three where you had to search to just a point and click map where you hit your destination and then enter certain parts of the world where usually you go through a very straight forward area where some platforming skills may be required. Still, it is a Wild Arms game as it has many of the same features as its predecessor and the world is named the same, though like most RPG games, it really has nothing to do with the previous games. Just a couple of areas have the same name and such. So as I said, this one is good, but now I think three was just a tad bit better.
The story has a young boy named Jude whose life is about to be turned upside down as an invading military force makes their way into his hometown, which happens to be a giant floating city. He soon joins up with a young man named Arnaud and a girl named Yulie and escapes the military's clutches; however, his hometown is destroyed. They get away in an escape pod and make their way to a port town where they soon join up with a young lady named Raquel and soon they are off trying to find out why the military is trying to capture Yulie and why they invaded Jude's home. The military soon dispatches their premier fighting force named Brionic, which is made up of very powerful fighters, to capture the unlikely group. Jude has the power to use Arms, so using those he is more than a match for this elite special force unit!
The game play is unique as this is a rather straight forward role playing game. I would not go so far as to compare it to FFXIII though, it is more like X. You go from location to location with very little backtracking; however, near the end you are given the ability to go back to previous locales. There are towns too, so not like XIII, more like X. The fighting has a hex system where you can move to different locales on the grid and you may get boosts in elemental power. Where your characters are at on the grid can also determine if you get any items too. It is a fast paced battle as Raquel can do major damage to most foes, but at the same time it can be frustrating too as Yulie dies so easily. She also seems to be targeted too, which makes little since seeing as how Raquel is the juggernaut on the board, taking most enemies down with a single strike. Just gets annoying as Yulie falls behind in terms of gaining levels because she is often killed and unless it is an undead character, she cannot really kill many enemies negating her the experience boost the characters get for defeating enemies. Yulie just seems one of the weakest characters ever in a role playing game!
So, in the end, a very fun game. There is another one after this one, that is also for the PS2; however, other than a very messed up game for the PSP, this series pretty much ended with the fifth game. Which seems to be a lot of great RPG series. They died during the PS2 era which was one of the best for games of this nature. Unfortunately, to many game designers listen to the gamer that likes games where you push a button and attack and many ditched the turn based game all together in lieu of games that are action based or the even worse online sort of action and sort of turn based combination. This game also is kind of unique by today's standards in that it is easily winnable in under 30 hours which is a nice change of pace as earlier this year I won a game that took me over 150 hours to defeat! So while it does not have the substance the previous game has or the next one, it holds up very well and makes for a different role playing game, but still maintaining the charm of the RPGs of the era. Also, it is nice not to have to try and search for everything!
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