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Wild ARMs: Alter Code F Review

Developer: SCEI Publisher: Agetec
Release Date: November 15, 2005 Also On: None

The Wild Arms series has always had one of the most unique themes I’ve seen in any game, blending together the old west feel with a fantasy/sci-fi story. With three games under its belt, each of them sticking to the traditional Wild Arms theme, challenging puzzle elements, and unique battle-canceling system, the newest addition to the series brings it right back to the beginning. Alter Code: F is a remake of the first Wild Arms with some beefed up graphics, a few new features, and a bunch more extras.

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The storyline has remained unchanged through its port through the PS2. The game takes place in the dying world of Filgaia, with crops and plants depleting and fresh green areas gradually turning brown. The cause of this travesty began during a war that took place in the past between the humans and a race from another dimension called metal demons. These metal demons plan on raging the planet and taking it over as their new home. Filgaia survived because of the powerful guardians that looked over the planet, as they went to battle and drove the demons away. However, defeating the demons took a lot of their power away and now the natural order of the planet is starting to change.

You take the roll of three young wanderers: Rudy, a young guy who has the power to hold the mysterious gun-esque weapon called ARM; Jack, an adventurous young treasure hunter searching for power with his mouse-like companion Hanpan; and the young princess of Adelhyde, Cecelia, who has the ability to communicate with the guardians.

You begin the game playing through each main characters’ prologue, with each of them pursuing their own objectives until finally meeting up in Adlehyde to fight against the demons. This teaches you about each character and his or her personality as well as their own unique abilities. Each character has their own “toolsâ€? that they can use while in towns and running through dungeons with each coming in handy at specific times. There may be a pile of rocks obstructing your path while in a dungeon. Rudy has one tool set of bombs that you can put down to blow those rocks out of your way. Cecilia has a flame staff that can light torches, and Jack sends out Hanpan to hit switches or open chests that can’t be reached otherwise. Each of them gain more tools as the game progresses and you’ll frequently switch characters so you can utilize their abilities and make it through the area.

When in battle, you can have up the three characters battle at a time against the enemy. There are various ways to route your enemy. In addition to the standard melee attacks, each character also has two different ways to deal damage. One way is your standard magic/abilities that you can use if you have enough ammo (Rudy’s cartridges) or enough MP (Jack’s abilities or Cecilia’s crest magic). The other way is through specific abilities that each character has that they can use as their ‘force gauge’ grows. You gain force by attacking enemies and taking damage. Once you reach a certain amount of force (usually 25%) you can use a force power, such as Jack’s accelerator, which allows him to act first despite his (or anyone else’s) speed on that turn. Every time you use a force power, the meter will drop by 25%. In addition to this, if your force meter gets to 100%, you’ll reach ‘condition green’, which removes all negative status effects of that character. Throughout the game, you’ll discover new force powers. Unlike other RPGs, you have to find your powers, as they don’t come to you automatically as you gain levels. You’ll run into battles quite often, but given the circumstance you have the chance to skip them using the Migrant level system.

Coming fully charged in the top left corner of the screen is the Migrant meter. While running through dungeons trying to save the world and what not, an exclamation point will appear above your head. Assuming you have units left in your meter, pressing triangle will cancel the battle and allow you to keep roaming. Each time you bypass a battle, one unit will be drained from the meter. This is useful if you want to travel quickly, however, there are battles quite frequently, so you’ll constantly find yourself with an empty meter. You can regain these units by engaging in battles, or by collecting small white orbs that are scattered throughout the dungeons. There are two exceptions to the system. Every so often you’ll have a green exclamation point over your head. This means that the enemy is weaker than you, and you can bypass the battle without wasting a unit in your meter. This is very useful for those pesky random battles that don’t give you much experience but take up time. On the flip side, if you encounter a red exclamation point, this means that you’ve been ambushed, and you’ll be forced into battle.

What’s weird about the graphics in this game is that, although they are obviously an upgrade from the original game, they’re nothing to brag about. The dungeons and towns look decent, although they lack in color variance. All the characters are 3D but they’re not very intricate and they’re even a bit clunky. The enemies look decent, and the bosses look pretty badass but they’re very restricted in terms of animation. The sound is still just as good as the original, keeping the same Western-style tunes, fully equipped with whip-cracks and whistles. While not incredibly impressive, the sound and graphics truly give the game an old west feel.

Overall Alter Code: F is as solid as the original. The battle system will keep you occupied, while the story line will provide at least 40+ hours of demons, guardians, and ancient technology set in an old western theme. You’ll be guessing and wanting to play to the very end. Most of those would buy this game have probably played the other Wild Arms, but if you want a good solid RPG that is a piece of history, this is definitely worth a try.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.3
Written by Matt Evangelista Review Guide