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Review - Wild Arms 5 (PS2)

Started by Nightcrawler, September 07, 2012, 10:51:38 AM

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I finished Wild Arms 5 a few months ago and unfortunately didn't have time to write a review immediately after and then forgot about it. Better late than never. :)


Not a bad cast here. Most of the characters were generally likeable and received a satisfactory level of character development. In fact, many of them got some exceptional development such as Greg with his tragic past, Rebecca with her journal entries, and Avril with her constant private thoughts.

While Dean was the main character, he was a little flat. I would almost say he was the comic relief always acting like a dunce not having any idea what any of the women in the party were talking about. When he wasn't acting like that, he was the overly excited optimistic kid of the group. He reminded me a little of Jude from WA4, but with less growing up and less serious moments.

Rebecca was the star of the show.  The journal entries were fantastic and realistic insight into what the character was feeling or going through during particular scenes. She had a range of emotions, growth as a person, and her character was enough to play through the game even if there weren't any others.

Greg also deserves honorable mention as a realistic character. He suffered a very tragic past. His story was very intriguing and gave true motive for how he acts throughout the adventure. His growth in dealing with and releasing his past was done well.

Avril was solid and I think the fact that she had no memories for so long held her back a bit from being developed. However, I think the idea was for her to develop as a completely new person with no ties to her past to support the storyline and character development for her at the end (I won't spoil it). So I was OK with that, but for the first half I couldn't help but feel a little more detached from her compared to the other characters as a result.

Chuck and Carol were the supporting characters. They got the least real development. Nonetheless, they weren't paper characters. They did get an adequate level of development. However, the experience wouldn't have been hurt too much had they not been in the game. The obligatory interchangeable supporting characters.

The villains this time around got much more development compared to WA4. There were 5 main villains. A good number to develop instead of the high number from WA4 you couldn't care less about. None of them were truly dastardly and had reasoning and reasonable explanation for what they were doing. I take that back, Kartikeya was actually dastardly and psychotic. While I can appreciate villains who have a good side or have convincing background or reasons for their actions, I also enjoy a strong evil bastard type character that you want to see dead. Kartikeya fit that part and I almost wish he ended up being the final boss. Aside from my personal tastes, the villains were solidly developed.


The game had a pretty good plot overall, but too much time was spent roaming around looking for "Johnny Appleseed". This game probably would have been better if it were shortened and thus the story was faster paced, or they added something more there. They did try to add in character development quests during this time to make things more interesting, but I would have liked to see more main story advancement during that swath of the game. The game just had a soft middle. It started out big with the golem arm from the sky carrying Avril and the Veruni revolution, and it did end with some exciting chapters, but the middle was a little flat and might turn some people off.

I liked that once again WA5 explored everyone's perspective blurring the lines of what side was the right or wrong side. It explored discrimination and different ways of how society can handle it. It did end up forcing one direction a bit more than the other in the end though.

Overall quality story with an interesting ending. Had they spruced up the middle, I'd probably rank it up there as one of the best ones I've played over the years. As it stands I'd say it's memorable, but doesn't quite make my top 10.


Presentation was much better this time around and all the low budget items I've seen in WA3 and WA4 were gone. No complaints in the presentation department. The graphics were probably the best they've ever been for Wild Arms.

The overworld was like Dragon Quest VIII and full-size and expansive. It has quite a bit of treasures around to find and it was cool to be able to see towns, dungeons, and landmarks from a distance. There was a lot of traveling in the game though, so sometimes it felt tedious to traverse long distances, but once they gave you the totally awesome Monowheel, it was fine. There is the exception of traversing from one section of the world to another though. Until you get a warp crystal, you can only get from one quadrant to another via cave which got annoying. There are only minor issues though.

They had cameos from nearly all past Wild Arms characters in the series, but unfortunately the graphical styling was very different and I didn't really recognize many of them until a guide mentioned who they were.

Cut scenes were plenty and the voice acting was solid (except for Carol).


The music was good. There were several tracks that had me whistling along again. Several months later, I can still recall my favorite tune of the game. I think it returned a bit to some more western sounding tracks like earlier games in the serious, but there were plenty of upbeat typical modern adventure tunes too. One of the better soundtracks I've heard from a game in the digital recording age.

Voice acting was good all-around with some stand-outs. Notably Rebecca, Dean, Kartikeya, and Nightshade  stand out in my mind. Carol was probably the only bad voice-over.


What we have here is a refined WA4 engine, which was a great thing because WA4 had a great engine.

They replaced the tools and objects with a gun with several special bullet types to be used for puzzles throughout the dungeons. This was different, but worked out fine. I'd probably prefer the tools of old from the first few Wild Arm games, but this was fine. It was pretty cool to be able to shoot and target objects and treasures from a far. Puzzles were back again and of reasonable difficulty. There weren't many that made me angry and not all were pushovers.

The hex grid based battle system is back. The biggest change being you can move and attack in the same turn and the grid layout is different many times throughout the game (mostly for bosses I think). At first I liked being able to move and attack in one turn, but the enemies could do it to, so they could nearly always attack you on any turn and hex status effects became much less effective. It rendered some of the strategy elements from WA4 that I liked unusable.

The level points and skill system is back. It's something I really liked about Wild Arms 4. It's still good, but unfortunately, this time around there are simply much less skills. I'm not sure why they reduced the number of skills so much. I guess they just didn't give it much attention. Also new is the skills are attached to mediums, so you can give a skill list to any character.

Badges are back too and this time they gave you more slots so you could actually use the various badges. As a result, much of the strategy of the game was shifted to your equipped mix of badges. This was definitely a change for the  better.

Lastly, gone are the problems I had of being instantly defeated at any given battle due to random elements. In some ways it was easier as a result, but the game was still always challenging, especially if you got into the optional side quests where even at level 99 you could have an issue. Really, the game allows you to set a comfortable challenge level for yourself by what you seek out, how much you level, and how you set up your equipment.


Wild Arms 5 was a good game and I'm happy to finish the series (as of 2012) on a high note. It was a fun time and I found myself wanting to play every day. It had a lengthy ending that I wasn't expecting that made me think a little bit. I haven't played too many like that in recent memory. This was a memorable experience.

P.S. The mono-wheel is the coolest in-game vehicle I've ever seen!! - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.