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Reviewed: Wild Arms XF
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: May 30th, 2008
Page: 2

Wild Arms XF (intended to be pronounced "Crossfire") starts out in the same Filgaia gamers have come to enjoy. The backdrop is a bit more straightforward; Clarissa and her friend Felius are trying to get back Clarissa's family heirloom from a thief, before it's used to cause even more pain and devastation to the people of the world. Unfortunately, they spend a lot of time getting sidetracked, and wind up chasing down their thief as much by luck as by any real effort.

That's the storyline, anyways - not particularly deep, but roving through the world, through a civil war, and helping rescue people from an oppressive government... warm and fuzzy feelings abound. Necessary to the story, certain elements of previous Wild Arms titles work a little "differently"; Elements on the battle grid, the battle field itself, and of course, the introduction of nearly endlessly-swappable classes.

Here's where it gets interesting. In most Tactics-style games, a character is as good as their current Job/Class setup, with sub-jobs just automatically adding things. With Wild Arms XF, it's a bit more in depth. Every character has both a character level (which sets up their basic stats), and various classes with various levels. The more a class is leveled, the more abilities from it are available for sub-skill assignment, but every character only has a small number of sub-skill slots to fill; equip the abilities of two extra classes (out of more than a dozen) and you probably won't have many slots left for other useful class abilities, such as the ability to equip a side class's favorite items. Since most classes require the class weapon for at least half their unique skills, your choice of setup for each character may take some time.

On the battlefield, things get entertaining. Rather than punishing players and forcing elaborate reset schemes, WAXF takes the opposite approach; battles can be deserted at any time, to re-think a choice of characters/classes or even to run off and level up on side battles before returning. In fact, an early tutorial actually suggests leaving a battle and leveling up if the battle seems to hard; it seems each battle is tuned for a pretty specific minimum level, with some alternate questing expected between plot points.

A battle synopsis for most storyline battles gives a few hints on class choice and tactics, as well as a battlefield overview, before the choices are made. And of course, until a character has actively committed an attack or ability use, everything (including movement) can freely be backed up to the start of their turn.

Outside of battling, there's shopping for items, but there's also the ability to recruit a large number of followers, equip them for jobs, level them up, and send them out hunting for items. To get to the best items in the game, or to save some cash, the items recruits bring back from exploring can be "synthesized." Ultimately, it's the player's choice to decide how many extra characters to recruit, but the game encourages it.

In terms of graphics and sound, there's a very distinct feel about the game - the music is pretty close to the last two in the series, and the voice acting mediocre as usual for an American port; the graphics are almost all done in 2D with the exception of the hex-grid battle board itself. Don't let that turn you off, as the 2D sprite work is beautifully done, and cut-scene portraits just as well drawn as the characters from Wild Arms 4.

Ultimately, I can't call it the best of the Wild Arms series. It's well done as a tactics-style title, but for gamers expecting the faster storyline pace of the others, you won't have it - it simply takes forever for the plot to get moving, and the options for leveling are either to take a whole ton of battles, or try to do 4-5 between each plot point. Verdict: rent before buying unless you're a gung-ho Wild Arms or Tactics games fanatic.

Added:  Saturday, May 31, 2008
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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