Wild Arms 4 begins with a boy named Jude skipping class and heading off into the forest on his own. It happens to be floating over the rest of the world however. Jude later activates an ARM (a gun, basically) and accidently fires it off and blows a hole in a machine that keeps the world stable. This single-handely brings about a wild adventure for Jude as he enters the world of Filgaia. A wasteland that was ruined by a war. Jude travels with Yulie, a traumatized girl with unique abilities; Armaud, a lonely drifter, and Raquel, a treasure hunter. Together they flee from the soldiers of Filgaia, who have used Yulie as a puppet in a sinister plot.
It's easily said that Wild Arms 4 truly is the most different in all the entire series. While the others relied heavily on fantasy and wild west themes, this one relies more on futuristic themes and scientific technology. This makes up a fairly engaging storyline in the end, with some farily well developed characters.
The most remarkable thing about the game, however, is the battle system. Instead of the same old turn based strategy seen in previous game, it introduces a hex-battle system. At the start of each battle there are seven hexagons on screen and your characters and enemies are randomly scattered through all of them. A single hex can hold up to all four of your party members. For the enemies it depends on their size. You can only attack an enemy that has a hex right next to yours. This adds a lot more strategy and gets away from the boring turn based combat that was in earlier games of the series.
The battle system has a few more kinks to it. You can manipulate hexes in your favor as well. For example, some hexes have elemental properties that can cut the elemental damage received in half. Others you could cast a nasty status effect on and then lock an enemy in it.
And I'm proud to say the one part of the battle system that shouldn't have changed didn't. That's the FP part of the system. FP stands for force points and you'll continually get them as you damage, take damage, evade and score critical hits on enemies. FP is also how you pull off special skills. FP only goes to 100. But the good news is, if your FP reaches 100, you'll be cured of all status effects placed on you.
The battle system does have a drawback, and that's the experience part. Since you get experience bonuses, it's really easy for some characters to level up at an unbalanced rate. It's possible to have characters lag a lot to the point where you'll have to have them kill everything. This doesn't work, considering some battles are tough. Enemies do an alarming amount of damage to you, and they can take advantage of the hex system as well. It may not be worth while to have to defend a weak character like Yulie in combat.
Moving around dungeons hasn't changed much in Wild Arms. That doesn't mean there aren't noticable differences. They're still full of puzzles, but the group shares a set of tools rather than them all having indiviual ones. Also, the game seems to have a bigger focus on the battle system. Some puzzles are cake, some are not. And the ones that aren't are more than just robbing you of fun, they're frustrating, and are rather slow.
They do have save points, which is good. Save points having a glowing gem on them, however. And some of them are dimmed. The dimmed ones you'll have to break, usually summoning monsters (tough monsters) that you'll have to destroy before using it.
Graphic wise, Wild Arms 4 looks far better than Alter Code F did. The characters are detailed, which really helps the look and feel of Filgaia. You'll run across many terrains, and they're all beautiful. The soundtrack will still remind many of earlier games in the series, but it's a good soundtrack. The voice acting is questionable at best. Sometimes it's good, and other times it just isn't. You'll get tired of them quickly in battle, but outside of battle, it's hard to tell if the voice actors are really putting effort into it. It really is nice to see Wild Arms with voices, but you'll also question them a lot.
The battle system is the biggest reason to get this game. It's got some loveable characters, and beautiful graphics, but it's just all out a fun game to play. It may stray from what was coined in earlier installments of the series, but any fan should find the additions and changes to be welcome.
+Much better battle system
+Great Skills system as well
+Nice loveable characters
+There are still a menacingly large amount of secrets in Wild Arms!
-The battle system-while excellent-causes character's levels to be drastically different at times
-Most puzzles are frustrating
-The story doesn't keep a steady pace