Wilfredo Martinez's Wild Arms 3 Review
Email the author: Wilfredo Martinez
STORY: This game confirms that ALL Wild Arms games are always going to be about stopping the menace that made the Planet Filgaia into a desert. HOWEVER, the menace, characters, and even Filgaia itself are completely different from game to game, so no repetition applies. (Which is somewhat sad, as this franchise has the some of greatest characters of any video game.)
Speaking of which, this game, just like the previous two, does a great job of developing its characters, so that you come to CARE about them... and things are NOT completely black-and-white; the heroes have flaws and the villains have motives other than "we're just really evil!" This is not as deep as, say, Xenogears or FF Tactics, but it's still good. I found the characters in the first two games more interesting, but that doesn't take much away from this one. I just wish Virginia hadn't been such a whiner, tho.
GAMEPLAY: If you like puzzles, you'll love this game. But if you hate them... There's like 35 dungeons to explore (only some of which are optional) and ALL have puzzles to solve in EVERY room! Thankfully most can easily be solved with the character's tools, but some are real doozys.
Thank God for Game Guides.
I found the whole idea of an Encounter Gauge annoying. It allows you to avoid encounters SOMETIMES, but it also adds more bookkeeping to the game.
Combat can be set on Auto, and the characters' AI is fairly good - however, characters never use Summons with it on, which is the easiest way to wipe out lesser monsters.
Note that, while you give all commands at the start of each round, you CAN cancel them when a character's turn comes around (if you're quick enough!) Also, you can swap Mediums (wich contain all the Special Powers, except Force Powers) between characters between turns, WITH NO TIME DELAY! This allows you to change their Personal Skills, for example, before the enemy can even attack! Cheap, but useful!
Combat once again involves using Force Abilities (think Limit Breaks). Arcanas (spells) use Force Points as well, but do not consume them when casting- you just need to keep a certain level of FP for certain spells. So, as long as you don't use your Force Powers, you can use your arcanas indefinitely - and this game has some REAL useful ones! (Like Grav, Valiant and Weaken.)
On the other hand, Summons aren't THAT useful in this WA. Their damage depends on your FPs, and you can only use them a limited number of times per fight. To increase the number, you must kill monsters with summons...which can get real tedious. Summons also use up ALL your FPs. Save the summons for normal enemies.
NOTE: Some of the Bosses in this game are VERY cheap. In fact, some CANNOT be defeated until you reach certain points in the story, so don't let it get to you.
NOTE 2: The sidequests on this game are NOT meant to be played in one sitting. You'll be bored out of your mind. Play them alternately with the main story. Just explore each new area in the World Map THROUGHLY, and deal with what you find when you find it.
EXCEPTION: Do the Secret Garden Quest ASAP!!! Healing items are VERY RARE in this game otherwise!!
GRAPHICS & SOUNDS: The game uses Cell-Shaded characters on 3D backgrounds (which can be totally rotated). I STILL find the Cell-shading fake-looking, but otherwise, everything from character designs to backgrounds was VERY well done. Note-the characters move around the battlefield on their own during fights! Unlike in the Grandia games, this has NO effect on combat, but it looks better than the usual fighting-from-the-same-spot cliché of other games. And fighting from horseback is a hoot!
The music is, as you can expect, Western-themed, including whistled tunes. Nice, but I would've liked a bit more variety.
CONCLUSION: WA3 wasn't as good as the first two, but it's still good (and looked much better than the others.) If not for the boring sidequests and cheap bosses, it would've been a GREAT game. Still better than most RPGs out there, thought. If you don't mind puzzles (or even if you do, like I do) give it a try.
Editor's note: For a long time, this page actually showed someone else's review, due to a mistake on my part. I apologize to Wilfredo Martinez for not noticing it sooner.