Wild Arms XF (ワイルドアームズ クロスファイア Wairudo Āmuzu Kurosufaia?, pronounced "Wild Arms Crossfire") is the first game in the Wild Arms series for the PlayStation Portable. The game was unveiled at a Media.Vision fan event on September 2, 2006 and was released in Japan in 2007. A North American version of the game was released on March 11, 2008.
Wild Arms XF is a 2D turn-based tactical role-playing game, creating a gameplay experience somewhere between Dungeons & Dragons and chess. Players are given control of a small squad of characters (six or less) and placed on a grid-based map resembling a geographical location (a swamp, a town, a river), upon which they fight battles to progress through the game. As with most T/RPGs, positional advantage can be critical to victory, and players are encouraged to outmaneuver their enemies as well as outgun them. The game emphasizes positioning and maneuvering by the inclusion of "Formation Arts," which increase attack damage when an enemy is surrounded by your characters in a line, a triangle or a circle. Wild Arms XF is a member of the small subsection of T/RPGs whose battlefields are based around hexagonal tiles instead of squares. "Combination Arts" return from previous Wild ARMs titles, allowing characters to target an enemy in a waiting state and then deliver their attacks simultaneously with the next ally to attack their target. If the player succeeds in executing an uninterrupted series of commands, the damage inflicted upon enemies will increase significantly. On the other hand, the enemy gets the same advantage.
Like most T/RPGs, XF gives the player precision control over the composition and fighting style of their army. The player is given control of several plot-critical characters, and can additionally hire generic "Drifters" to strengthen their ranks. All characters (except one, Tony) have access to the game's "Class system," which allows them to change into different character classes outside of combat; each class comes with various "Skills", which allow them to perform different combat roles (offensive spellcasting, healing, item use, damage-dealing, etc.). Skills consist of a set of "Original Commands," active abilities which require MP to use, followed by a series of passive bonuses which help add character to the class. Drifters have access only to the basic 16 classes, but unique/plot-critical characters also have personal classes. The true depth of the system, however, is that it allows players to mix-and-match Skills. Each battle won provides Experience points and also "Class Skill Points", which allow characters to permanently learn Skills from their current class. The player can then fill each character's Skill Slots with those permanently learned Skills, no matter what Class that character currently is, allowing (for instance) the item-wielding Gadgeteer to wield an Elementalist's magic spells and/or passive bonuses, or vice versa. The number of available Skill Slots increases with the character's level, allowing a wide variety of customization.
Before battle begins, the player can gather important pieces of information by looking at Labyrinthia's "Direct Event Report". This report informs the player about the current status, the forecast future status, and conditions for victory. Players are allowed to "Give Up" the battle and try again from scratch at any time, and indeed are expected to do so; battles in XF are in some ways more akin to puzzles than straightforward combat. This is underlined by the addition of a third meter in addition to Hit points and Magic points: "Vitality Points," which are reduced every turn by an amount equal to the "Weight" of the character's equipment and items. Once their VP are expended in this way, the Weight penalty is subtracted from the character's HP instead until only 1 remains. This imposes a time limit on battles, as protracted skirmishes will eventually be reduced to "sudden death" in this way. Furthermore, some battles have turn limits, which yield Game-Overs if the player fails accomplish all objectives within that time; and a few are stealth-based sneaking missions involving pure maneuvering.
Outside of battle, the player can travel around the "world map" of the nation of Elesius, visiting towns and conversing with townsfolk, employing or dismissing Drifters, and purchasing consumable items and weaponry. Existing equipment can be strengthened at "Synthesis" shops, a system which almost entirely replaces the RPG-standard method of the next town conveniently carrying the next-strongest phase of gear. The player can voluntarily fight skirmishes with local monsters for level-grinding purposes. Finally, a New Game Plus feature exists, allowing the player to keep all (non-plot-critical) money, items and equipment; character levels are not retained, but battles yield double their normal amount of Experience points.
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