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     " And just why is your identity always out in the dangerous wastes? Personally I'd be looking behind the couch, that's where I find the answers to most of my mysteries. "

      Title: Wild Arms 3 by Sony

      Format: Playstation 2 RPG

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: Wild Arms is quite the venerable series. Number 3 comes forth to continue a grand tradition, and this time it's in PS2 form. Will it satisfy the old fans? Will it draw in new ones? Will I ever get on with it? Well the answer to the last one, at least, is yes.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Everybody's doin' it! Why not Wild Arms? That's right folks, the game is cel shaded. Hey, it's a bandwagon all sorts of games are jumpin' on. What does this mean? Well, fans of the original games, do not despair. The game world remains colorful and well designed. Moreover, now you characters are consistent from overworld to combat (In previous iterations you played a hand drawn sprite and a bad 3D polygonal, respectively). The graphics actually do look good (a really vast improvement over 2), and hold well the feeling of Filgaia that some of us have come to know and love. The vast deserts and forests, and other environments are all quite pretty. Levels are all designed sensibly, with little confusion...and for the few levels that can be confusing, they included a little navigation system to help let you know where you've been. Very helpful and pretty stuff. 4 out of 5

      Playability: At the very least, little has changed about how the game plays since the last iteration of the series. Fans of the previous games will be able to jump in almost instantly with little or no trouble and I doubt new players will have problems either. There are a few things that they've added to the system that upgrade it from old however. For one thing, everybody uses ARMS (firearms) now, and reloading is a constant concern. At least you can reload in battle (and automatically after battle), making it less of a matter of conservation. Moreover, everybody uses magic now, the crest system found in 2 is gone completely. Making a triumphant return is the ability to evade unwanted random encounters. They've beefed up this system though, and now you have a guage that tells you how often you can skip battles. It adds a bit of strategy to the use of battle skipping. You're given more options- in addition to dashing and jumping, you can now also sneak around (although this isn't the most often used feature by any means). The thing about all of this is that it's pretty much still the same game. Analog support and fairly true 360º rotation make controlling everything easier, but the core of the gameplay remains the same. The real question is: is that a bad thing? The answer is no. Wild Arms is still a fun RPG romp through a great world. They've added more than enough features to the old iterations and made enough advances, all while keeping the same great familiar feel. And I'm still in favor of a game that lets you customize your spell names, and even change the names of NPCs, if you feel so inclined. Heck, they even took a page out of Skies of Arcadia's book, and have some cool ship battles. 4 out of 5

      Story and Drama: Don't worry that you'll be put off by the story in this game- it's well held together, if overly Japanese (and we all know what I mean by that). Heavy overtones of love and camaraderie, etc, etc. RPGs really need to get a new story writer on board, it's all been heard before. Much like the rest of the game, though, it's the classic feel with a new face and that feels nice. This is also the first of the Wild Arms series to feature a female protaganist. Essentially the story is about a young woman with a mysterious past (because people who remember their past never become adventurers...just doesn't happen) who decides to head out into the wastes to find her identity. And just why is your identity always out in the dangerous wastes? Personally I'd be looking behind the couch, that's where I find the answers to most of my mysteries. Of course, "Wild Arms- The Forbidden Couch" doesn't exactly grab you, does it? In any case, it's a pleasant enough story with a villain who looks like the hero from the last game. 4 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Well, it's a roleplaying game, so there is no multiplayer. Even replayability suffers as with almost every RPG. At least there are plenty of secrets to keep you searching. How much you get out of the game depends on whether you like to look for every single little secret thing in the world. Still, this game doesn't seem to have nearly as many secrets to find as its predecessors, and the game suffers for it. 2 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       For long time fans of the game this is a glorious step forward. Sure it's got cel shading, but it doesn't infringe on the feeling of Wild Arms we've come to know over the years. No, in fact this game feels very much like the old days. There's the old adage of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." They seem to have stuck pretty hard and fast to that rule for this game. While that makes it heartwarmingly familiar, it also means that we've seen it before- and that may turn off new players who are experienced in other RPGs. The end effect though is a very pleasing Role Playing game that should certainly entertain.

      The Good: New edges to all the old familiar Wild Arms gameplay

      The Bad: The really familiar gameplay. We've been here, we've done this.

      The Overall Ugly: Just to remind myself, I plugged WA2 back into the machine…ye gods. Trust me, cel shading is a blessing.

      What it's Worth: Market price.

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