Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Wild ARMS 3 (PS2)
You Are: Four Drifters (essentially plain old adventurers): Virginia the idealistic gal, Jet the loner, Clive the intellectual, and Gallows the boor.
Your Goal Is: Changes more often than most games and is kinda hard to pin down. But it involves fighting things, exploring ruins, and flying around the world map.
General System: Like the other games in the series, your different characters can use special tools while exploring (which makes up a lot of the fun in this game). On the world map, you have to "search" for items and places rather than getting to them automatically, similar to WA2. I absolutely love the "random battle" system here: you get an "encounter" gauge which goes up by 1 each time you battle. Instead of instantly starting random battles, depending on your "migrant level" (which you raise by collecting special items) and your encounter gauge, you can avoid random battles entirely if you wish. Each battle you avoid can reduce your encounter gauge, though. It's a very well-balanced system. As you continue through the game, you keep getting items that make things much easier, such as teleporting between towns, escaping from dungeons, or tracking where you are in ruins.
You can't heal outside battle without using heal berries... which can't be bought, they have to be grown in a garden or dropped by enemies. Luckily, characters come with VIT, a gauge which is used up after battle to heal characters. Both VIT and encounter gauges can be refilled by resting, or by collecting particular gems inside dungeons.
Battle System: Force Points play a big role here. Each character can equip up to three Mediums; each Medium, besides raising stats, has various Personal Skills with various effects; you can distribute your limited Personal Skill points to "equip" these skills. (However, they can't be unequipped, so you need to be careful.) Each Medium also comes with a set of four Arcana spells. You raise Force Points in battle as you attack physically, or get damaged. Each Arcana spell requires a certain amount of FP to use (but doesn't actually use up the FP). Force Abilities, on the other hand, (summoning, using Gatling to attack consecutively, or a character-specific ability) do use up FP.
Other oddities... since the weapons used are guns, you need to keep reloading (via defending) in order to be effective in attacking. You can increase your bullet count (as well as attack power and other stats) by upgrading your ARM in shops. (There's no equipment, just ARM shops.) Also, if you end a battle while unconscious, your max HP is lessened until you get to an inn. Not sure what they were trying to do there. O_o
Graphics: Cel-shaded. Pretty smooth, but there isn't much detail (and characters' hands look really weird for some reason). The environments look better than the characters.
Music: Quite nice, and fits the theme very snugly. The vocal themes are above average as well.
Story: The sticking point here. The characters are unmemorable and dry, and the dialogue is full of technobabble and "self-help booklet syndrome". The villains are interchangable and almost silly. If you only look for story in a game, look elsewhere. You can safely scroll past most dialogue here without missing anything interesting.
Challenge: Medium (no pun intended)
Length: About 40 hours, with several sidequests unfinished
My Thoughts: Some people will love this game, others will hate it. Most will be in the middle somewhere, though. I personally found it to be a lot of fun for the most part. I thought the Wild West theme was very well done here (as opposed to the other two Wild ARMs where it was more of an afterthought). There are over 25 dungeons to explore (most of which are over within half an hour). There are tons of sidequests (many of which are, sadly, really tedious *koffABYSSkoff*). The exploration is enjoyable (I always like the tool-based puzzles), and the aforementioned encounter system makes it a breeze at high levels. You can get through the main game fairly easily, but there's lots of challenge for people who want it (and masochists). My mark suffers from some really annoying bugs (sorry, features) that cloud its enjoyment factor, like the awful play control inside Millenium Puzzles. However, I did add half a mark for what is probably the coolest intro sequence to any game I've ever seen. 8-)
Overall Rating: 8/10