|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Media Vision||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 28, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
When a series reaches ten years, a special release or a remake with a deeper representation will be released occasionally. Either way, you can almost expect something for a tenth anniversary title. Wild Arms 5 is no exception. It offers a special tenth anniversary edition of this new title without the extra cost to mark the achievement. However, it doesn't piggyback on the anniversary, as some would have expected. In fact, the way Media Vision and Sony marked the occasion is to have the game packed in a special box and include a commemorative booklet that contains several pieces of artwork from the series.
Therefore, for the fans out there, the celebration is only cosmetic. The game itself is fresh and is a new adventure waiting to be explored by the ones that need a fix of western RPG love.
The beauty of the series is that instead of recycling the same characters or changing the scope and landscape of the new installments, Wild Arms always takes place on the planet of Filgaia. This may be the only link between the series, but it is a solid one. It has always made it possible to bring in characters from previous installments for brief cameos, which is a big reason that fans pick this game up. This time around the story unfolds around a 16 year old would be adventurer named Dean. He lives in the small town of Capo Bronco and obsesses over mythical golems that a new resident has told him about.
At the beginning of the game, you are in one of the town's nearby ruins looking for a piece of these machines. Finding these golem pieces is actually the main reason Dean wants to leave the town. The young adventure seeker is thrown into an adventure without even trying, however. While he and a childhood friend, Rebecca, a young girl whose shorts might be just a little too short, are off searching for more golem pieces, they witness an object falling from the sky, plowing into Filgaia. Of course, the two decide to investigate the crash. They quickly discover that the fallen object is a hand of a giant golem. However, the peculiar thing is inside the hand is a young girl named Avril who mumbles about a man named Johnny Appleseed. The young girl joins Dean in his adventure, which now involves discovering the identity of this man. I won't delve any deeper into the folds of the story simply because it is part of what RPG fans love about their games.
Combat for RPGs has become something that most can anticipate before even flipping the case over at the game store. Meaning, there's usually a turn-based element, the battles are random, and you usually have ample time to decide your next move in the heat of the battle. I know that these elements have somewhat become a bit cliché and have been tweaked over the years to encompass new players, but it is still nice to see the elements that made the genre a force to be reckoned with still fighting to stay around. Wild Arms 5 does a great job at maintaining several of these elements and stretches the boundaries of strategy for RPGs a little. If you played the fourth installment, then you will have a good idea of the battle plans of this one. The hexagon system returns to increase the difficulty of finishing off the vile villains you will face. However, the difficulty just isn't there to make this system as hardcore as it could have been. The strategy of moving your characters around to different hexes in order to escape a devastating blow, strengthen your own attacks, or use a powerful Team Attack, are somewhat muddled by the ease of several of the battles. Including a chaos factor would have increased the overall playability. However, just because the battles are not always as demanding of strategy doesn't mean you won't have fun exploring the hexes to gain maximum advantages and item usage.