Wild Arms 3

January 3, 2003

Normally I am not a huge fan of the RPG genre, so it’s a bit odd that I picked out this game. I’ve never really been a fan of cell shading either. Something about Wild Arms 3 intrigued me at the store though. It had been quite awhile since I’d given an RPG a chance and this could possibly be the one that changed my mind. Wild Arms 3 was developed by SCEA and was released back in October of 2002. While not the best game I’ve played lately I was very impressed by the things that SCEA tried in this game. It’s seems that there has been an extremely lack of creativity in the game market lately, but that isn’t true of Wild Arms 3.

WA3 defiantly changed my mind about cell shading, this is the first time I have ever seen the power of it. I had no clue what could be accomplished and communicated by what I thought was just a cope out on the graphics end. Instead of the usual style of cell shading WA3 tried to texturize the cells. The end result just looks like they ran the scenes through a couple of Photoshop filters. I’ll have to admit that the graphics are pretty weak in the beginning and in the worldview. Later on in WA3 after you get spells to work with is when the graphics get a lot better. While I wouldn’t consider the graphics great by any stretch of the imagination the lighting effects on the characters are fantastic. Pickle sat there watching me play this a lot and was constantly pestering me as to how this game couldn’t carry Final Fantasy’s jock, but even he was blown away by some of the lighting effects. Some of the enemies you fight are so lame though. It seems kind of a waste to use a “Devastate” spell on a floating book. SCEA really could have put more time into developing more detailed enemies. The battle scenes that initially cause a jaw-dropping awe effect will later on make you want to beat yourself over the head due to how repetitive they are. In the end all this game’s graphics did for me was get me more hyped up about the cell shading in the upcoming Zelda.

The sound in WA3 is terrible. I played for close to ten hours and heard two midi tracks looped endlessly over and over. After two hours or so I just went ahead and played on mute, and trust me, I didn’t miss anything. One thing that really spurned me away from RPGs in the past was all the reading that was involved. Once RPGs started out on the next-gen consoles I thought that was a thing of the past. Apparently SCEA didn’t get that memo. There are very few things I find more frustrating than reading endless amounts of cheesy dialogue with no voice-over whatsoever.

Although I don’t play many RPGs I found that the controls during battle sequences were really easy to master. In the worldview though I wandered aimlessly not quite able to master quick turns while riding horseback. It doesn’t seem like control is a big issue in the RPG world, unless someone attempts to implement an extremely complex battle sequence. The thing that frustrated me the most, and what I consider to be the downfall of this game is the navigation. For some bizarre reason all the cities are hidden and you have to run around with this stupid search tool to find everything. After a while it got so frustrating that I just gave up. The world is enormous, and I spent a ton of money on a world map that I could never figure out how to use. Note to game companies: when making an RPG don’t hide the fucking cities!

Other than the challenge of trying to find my next destination there was nothing terribly complex about WA3. A few puzzles were involved here and there, but nothing that took a whole lot to figure out. I spent most of the time lost, looking for cities. Once I was able to find them the levels were a breeze to get through. Even the bosses don’t pose much of a threat. I fought the same boss on three separate occasions and whipped up on him every time. I imagine that later in the game the enemies are a bit more challenging, but like I said, the sheer frustration of trying to find the next city is headache enough.

I have an extremely short attention span and it actually amazed Pickle and myself that I was able to log close to 15 hours on WA3. The game’s story was really weak though. If the story had been developed a bit more I may have had more interest in achieving my next goal. All the characters back-stories were really weak as well and I was never really sure as to what my eventual goal was. Parts of it were entertaining, but as a whole the game really isn’t much fun. The repetitiveness of the enemies got to me as well. It seemed like enemy attacks were constant and I didn’t even have time to walk from point a to point b without being jumped 50 times.

In conclusion I’d say that it might be worth giving this one a rent. Someone with more patience than me may find it more enjoyable. I’d like to give SCEA props for trying new stuff and I think they have created an excellent foundation for other games to build on. This is the first time that I’ve been semi-interested in an RPG in quite some time. The fact that WA3 was a “western-style” RPG was pretty cool as well. It did peak my interest in other RPGs though and Pickle has convinced me to give Final Fantasy VII a shot. So maybe this game is a good beginner RPG to get people interested in the genre.

Score: 2/5

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