Wild Arms: Alter Code F Review
The Playstation and Playstation 2 have had many RPG series since the brand was introduced back in 1995 but there have been a few that the Playstation can call its own. Introduced in April of 1997, several months prior to the release of Final Fantasy VII, Wild Arms was met with excellent praise and popularity that eventually spawned two sequels. Now, a remake of this game makes its way to the Playstation 2 entitled, Wild Arms: Alter Code F.
Wild Arms was a traditional RPG in every aspect except that it took a western motif that has become the series defining attribute. While the Alter Code F retains the western motif, the game isn't exactly like the original in terms of story and gameplay. New story elements and many of the gameplay elements introduced in the sequels are sprinkled into the game.
As expected of a remake, the visuals have been vastly improved from the original game. However, Alter Code F isn't exactly graphically impressive either. Foregoing the graphic technique implored in Wild Arms 3, Alter Code F uses a more standard graphical approach. To draw comparisons, Alter Code F's graphics can be compared to Skies of Arcadia except nowhere near as grandiose. If Alter Code F had been released at the beginning of the Playstation 2's life cycle, it would have fit in quite nicely. The game's graphics aren't bad but you expect more considering what other RPGs can be found on the Playstation 2.
The audio for the game faired much better surprisingly. The game's excellent soundtrack has remained almost intact although the audio quality seems to have improved and some tracks have been remade. Sound effects from Wild Arms 3 are reused fairly regularly in the game. New to the game is voice acting for the characters which is quite surprising. Incantations, in battle taunts, and etc sure are a welcome change.
The major changes for Alter Code F come in the gameplay. The search system from Wild Arms 2 and the encounter system from Wild Arms 3 are found in the game to the dismay of some and the glee of others. The Personal Points system also makes a return again in a slightly different form. Rather than equipping Guardians and/or items to get skills like in Wild Arms 3, characters can equip individual skills. The number of skills that you can equip is tied to the character's overall level and the point cost of the skill itself. Taking a cue from Wild Arms 3, equipment is all gone. No weapons or armor to buy and maintain like the original Wild Arms. This is a bit of a disappointment as armor and weapons have always been a part of the RPG formula. However, it's also a welcome breath of fresh air like it was in Wild Arms 3 because the series is trying to evolve itself beyond standard conventions.
Battles remain largely the same in terms of actual execution. It's a standard turn-based system like many other RPGs. The difference been Alter Code F and the original Wild Arms though is the layout of abilities for the characters. Each of the characters has their own specific talents and no abilities cross-over to each other unlike the original game where all the characters were able to summon Guardians. A few abilities found on the characters in the original game have also moved to the several characters that were made playable for this game. One last notable change is the fact that main protagonist Rody (Rudy in the English version of the game) and one of the new characters fights like the characters from Wild Arms 3. You can upgrade the ARMs they use and need to reload them after a certain number of shots in battle (done by defending). Despite changes, combat is still fairly run of the mill.
The overall experience of Wild Arms: Alter Code F was positive for me. I was hoping the game would be a much more expansive remake and that it'd give me that same feeling I get when I play the original Wild Arms even to this day. However, it sort of fell a little short of my high expectations. Despite this, Wild Arms: Alter Code F is still a solid remake of a classic game.
5/8/2004 Anton Cao