Wild ARMs XF
Reviewed by Anna Slado
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-06-18 PSP Strategy/RPG E10 (Everyone 10+) XSEED Games / MediaVision

For the first time ever, a Wild ARMs game has been released to a handheld console, the PSP. It's not your regular Wild ARMs game either: this time we're talking strategic role-playing, one of my favorite genres, thanks to Final Fantasy Tactics.

And this really brought up my first concern. Since FFT was perfection in every way, what could the people at MediaVision bring to the table that would be different, challenging, compelling and fun, and NOT a copy of FFT at the same time? Well, it turns out that their "vision" comes with everything you want, and it hasn't lost the typical and lovable WA feel to it either.

As usual, you are visiting the world Filgaia, a world that has become one of my personal favorites through the years. Main character Clarissa and her friend turned bodyguard Felius start out on a simple journey that soon will be festered with bad guys, evil plots, backstabbing, but also good friends, good laughs and good fights.

Now, the fights are a handful, to say the least. I know FFT is really hard at certain points, but so is WAXF, if not even more difficult. And it's also harder in a different way.

Of course there are tons of different jobs that you can apply to your character, and all make good use of the classic Wild ARMs magic and skills that we've seen through the years. However, good old fashioned leveling up will not cut it here. You need to utilize the different jobs and the different skills that come with them to create almost indestructible characters. The conditions for fights are seldom "beat all fiends" to win or "all characters die" to lose. You may need to bring all your characters to a certain spot on the field in 99 turns, you may have to work with only 2 characters to solve dungeon puzzles, you may have to activate some kind of switch, etc.

Truly, you really can't play this game halfheartedly or you will fail big time. Care about your characters and their development, their equipment and their skills. Never let your guard down for a second or you're toast. And I mean it.

Graphically, I couldn't be more in love with this game. The pixels are so colorful and the battlefields so varied that it's impossible to tire. The world map alone is a work of art. The only thing that can become somewhat dull, are the sequences between fights. Still pictures with still characters, is one way to describe it. Luckily the voice acting is pretty good and you can choose between English and Japanese.

But as usual, Filgaia does not really come alive without a kick-ass soundtrack and this one truly delivers. It literally screams that classic WA-sound that I love so much, through the tiny speakers of the PSP.

Even though some things are similar to FFT, WAXF really feels like its own game and I really like the setup of the fights. The hexagons from WA4 and 5 are back and make up the grids that you walk on during battles. Even though the difficulty level can make fights last for 30 minutes or more, you can't get bored with this. It's all about making the right decisions, and not only relying on brute force.

It may not beat the wonderful classic that is Final Fantasy Tactics, but damn, is Wild ARMs XF a good runner up!