PS2 REVIEW: WILD ARMS: ALTER CODE F
Wild Arms: Alter Code F
Endearing characters
Lots of puzzles
Gameplay variety
RPG-Lite
Visually uninspired

Not quite a classic revisitation, but Alter Code F will put a smile on your face if you're a fan. by Daemia

November 30, 2005 - Wild ARMs: Alter Code: F is an updated version of the classic RPG Wild ARMs. With new graphics, characters, puzzles and a re-translated storyline there is some distance between this version and the original. It's just that the update only puts a few years on the 1997 title and doesn't manage to bring all the way to the middle of this decade.

Wild ARMs: Alter Code: F is up against a lot of fierce competition as far as RPGs are concerned. The focus on games as of late is on more action-oriented combat systems and lots of dungeon crawling. After all, everyone likes to collect tons of goodies. Alter Code: F approaches the RPG gameplay with a more balanced format, I guess you could say a more traditional format but with some liberties taken regarding omitting the purchasing and maintaining of armor or weapons. While it does include plenty of dungeon crawling and battles, there is a definite focus on puzzles that get you into the dungeons and help you to access locked chests and open new paths.

Exploration is also well represented even though the game is very linear. The blend of all these elements may be refreshing to some but it could be the very reason that some gamers prefer the new approach.

Old and new characters abound. The three main characters include Rudy Roughnight, Cecilia Lynne Adlehyde and Jack Van Burace. Additional characters include Emma Hetfield, Jane Maxwell and Magdalen Harts. The characters don't share any of the same skills which makes them all useful at different times for different purposes. This manages to reinforce the party element where all characters have something to offer and are not just there to take up space following the leader.

Rudy Roughnight is the leader of pack in this Western-themed adventure which is nice diversion from the fantasylands of elves, trolls and fairies. His background is shrouded in mystery. He wields the power of a weapon called the ARM which in German stands for Alte Ratselhaft Machine. He has the ability to scope out treasures with his radar powers and also possess Mighty Gloves that give him super strength to lift, push and punch but also grants him the enchanted ability to open certain passages.

Jack is a warrior whose main weapon is the sword. He's determined to collect his fortune in treasures. He also carries around a talking mouse that he can send into areas that are inaccessible to him. All of these characters, collectively known as the Dream Team are bound by fate to protect Filgaia from its prophesized destruction at the hands of the metal demons.

The story touches on past segments of the series but it's much more expansive without resorting to a lot of filler. The game doesn't artificially inflate the gameplay with backtracking, continuous leveling-up and grinding battles. Battles can be avoided thanks to the Migrant System which allows you to move you and your party out of the way of an impending battle. But you can only use this sparingly as the system will eventually start taking points away if avoid too many battles.

Combat is played on a grid where you have your usual attack and defend commands. Using the proper character in battle is the key to winning since characters don't share specific traits. Each has different special abilities that must be exploited. The battle system is not very deep and the fact that you can't purchase new weapons or armor assures that it doesn't get much deeper later in the game.

Characters have four main powers available that are upgraded through successful progression. There isn't a lot of freedom in point distribution but neither is there much freedom in the game which is linked so close to the storyline that it couldn't possibly be free roaming. You will be allowed to explore many regions for various items but ultimately you will be forced down the linear path to your next quest.

Red colored treasure chests as well as some blue ones just require some good old-fashioned searching to find and unlock. You can use Rudy's search powers to uncover hidden chests. Other chests will require some puzzle-solving to unlock. The dungeons are quite interactive as you can use stealth to sneak past some enemies and climb walls to avoid traps. The dungeon crawling portions of the game are the highlights in my opinion.
Cecilia is the heiress to the kingdom of Adlehyde. She has various staffs that can project flames or create a tornado. Her psychic abilities allow her to communicate with the Guardians that direct the events of the planet.

It's the characters themselves that will really determine the success of this game. While we all can agree there are no Earth-shattering features, the characters generate a level of depth and warmth that is typically glossed over in many RPGs. If you're more interested in action than you might want to pass on this but at the same time so much more could have been done with the production to bring the characters to life. Although the soundtrack is great there is virtually nothing in the way of voiceovers. It's all text-based and there are some translation problems. There are some portions of the game that are very quiet and even though you may be with a party you will certainly feel lonesome.

This is not a pretty looking game. There are some blocky textures and even the character models have kind of a bulky presence to them. Some of the camera angles are positioned too far away which may give you a good look of the overall surroundings but when the action begins you'll be at a disadvantage. I can see the look that they're going for which is less anime and more realistic but while it's cohesive throughout the game it could have used a lot more polishing.

Alter Code: F may not be the best of the bunch but it's got enough substance and style to make fans of the series happy for a few weeks. It's a good mid-entry level RPG for those weaned on Zelda that want to experience a little more of the hardcore RPG elements.

Features

  • Expanded Story by the Original Wild Arms Staff.
  • Experience Filgaia with Classic Heroes and New Allies in Full 3D
  • Evolved Combat System Introduces New Melee Tactics and Dynamic Combat
  • Over 2 Hours of Emotionally Inspired Movie Quality Anime Sequences

By Daemia
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Wild Arms: Alter Code F (PS2)
3.1
Graphics
Blocky textures and washed out colors give this game a budget-title look. The character models are charming but their facial expressions are a little suspect.
4.4
Control
Interactive dungeon crawling is great but it would have been nice to have more control over combat and leveling-up.
3.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voiceacting is virtually non existent. It's a very empty sounding game despite an excellent soundtrack.
3.0
Play Value
There may be a reason or two to play through this game twice, but as far as I'm concerned, once is good enough.
3.4
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PS2
Dev: Media Vision
Pub: Agetec
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1
Review by Daemia

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best