Wild Arms 5 (PlayStation 2) review
"If ever there were an argument for the existence of the silent protagonist in an RPG, Wild Arms V's main character Dean would be it. Whereas most RPGs will have characters with at least a handful of surprising lines, Wild Arms V seems content in making Dean feel as generic as possible. He's a carefree, naive young man with a female best friend that's too good for him and always insults him for being a moron."
A dry, hot wind blows across the untouched wastelands. Tumbleweeds dance across the ground, lizards skitter across the parched earth, and a young, blue-haired man eyes the open fields, his heart filled with hope.
It's a beautiful picture painted upon a most wonderful canvas. From the descriptions above, I shouldn't even have to tell you that the young man with the sapphire mane is in a game that borrows heavily from the wild west. Such is how deep the imagery of such locales exists. Everything simply seems to just fit.
That's when he opens his mouth.
If ever there were an argument for the existence of the silent protagonist in an RPG, Wild Arms V's main character Dean would be it. Whereas most RPGs will have characters with at least a handful of surprising lines, Wild Arms V seems content in making Dean feel as generic as possible. He's a carefree, naive young man with a female best friend that's too good for him and always insults him for being a moron. Honestly, can you tell me with a straight face that you've not seen that a thousand times before in RPGs? Not once did he say something that shocked me, not once did he feel like anything other than an immature moron. Dean simply lived in his little idiotic world, content to face the wrath of my mute button despite the fact that Wild Arms V has a great soundtrack that I'd be missing out on because XSEED needs to hire decent voice actors.
*takes a deep breath*
Luckily, the other characters are better, even if a bit clichéd themselves. While none of the characters really develop much through their 40-ish hour storyline, they fit their roles very well. You've got the cute, short-shorts wearing and probably Yuna-inspired childhood friend of Dean's named Rebecca, the cold, emotionless sword-toting chick
KOS-MOS Avril, Or the semi-badass Greg, who nearly blows Dean's face off with a shotgun a mere three hours into the game.
Wild Arms V would probably be a better game if he would have.
Thankfully though, aside from those small missteps, Wild Arms V is still a great game. The story is the typical Wild Arms fare, and fans of the series will be glad to know that there's quite a few cameos throughout the world of Filgaia. While the musical style is a bit different thanks to a new composer, it still retains that same wild west style that the series has been known for. Where WA5 truly shines is in the combat.
Just like in its predecessor, battles use the HEX system. Unlike its predecessor, characters can move and attack in the same turn, leading to some very fast-paced yet strategic battles. You see, the way the HEX system works is that there's several hexagons on the ground that the characters (both your party and the monsters) stand on. Instead of attacking a specific enemy, you attack the hex that they're standing on, an it affects ALL characters on that hex. Because multiple characters can stand on the same hex, enemies will be trying to farm your characters into a single hex to wipe you all out at once... While you do the same to your foes. It keeps the fights feeling intense, since even the weaker monsters can easily wipe you out if you're not careful.
All in all, Wild Arms V is a great continuation of the series. The HEX battle system has been refined from its predecessor and while the puzzles tend to revolve less around interesting platforming and action sequences like WA4 and more on stupid block puzzles and hitting obvious switches, it doesn't seem to detract much from the game, especially with that awesome combat. If you're an RPG fan, you should definitely get this, and if you're a Wild Arms fan, well... You've probably already bought it.
Staff review by Kyle Stepp (November 18, 2007)
Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.
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