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Wild Arms 5: A Familiar Friend
Company: XSEED Games

I probably shouldn't admit this, but the Wild Arms franchise is one that I constantly forget about until a new game in the series is released - then I remember that I typically like it. Wild Arms 5 is the latest game in the long-running series and if you're like me and enjoy the series, it is something to look forward to.

Wild Arms 5 takes place in Filgaia, a world - much like every other RPG world - that finds itself in a really bad spot. You play as Dean, the typical protagonist unhappy with the way the world has been going and seeks change. He soon meets up with a feisty girl named Rebecca and another, more mysterious girl, Avril, whose appearance helps to set Dean on the adventure of a lifetime and maybe change his world.

Although much of Wild Arms 5 sounds like a generic RPG, it presents a number of small wrinkles that really help to make it a little different. The most notable is its old West setting. While most RPGs take a slant towards fantasy or sci-fi, Wild Arms 5 goes for the old West look, though with a few fantasy and sci-fi elements mixed in. The other difference is the fast-paced combat system. You'll still have to contend with random-battles, though you eventually earn the ability to turn off encounters once you've "beaten" an area. Combat takes on a group of seven hexagons that you can place characters on. Where you place your characters makes up half the strategy of battles. You can place them in their own hexes or group a few in one; it's all up to you. Enemies share the same placement options.

The "catch" to the entire system is that attacks don't target individual characters, but hexes. Placing two or more in a hex can help boost their attacks, though everyone in that hex will also take damage if attacked. The system doesn't feel too complicated, though there is loads of hidden depth if you look for it.

Wild Arms 5's release is still a few weeks off and probably hasn't received the attention it should, but RPG fans - especially those like me who enjoy, yet tend to forget about the series - have a lot to look forward to.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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