Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Gust, Banpresto
Genre: Traditional RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 01/20/09
Japan 10/25/07

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I've been looking all over for you...inside your own mind!
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Wait, seriously? I position the girls while they're in a spa?!
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Battles are exponentially more fun in the sequel.
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I'm so glad it wasn't S.T.D. ...wait... nevermind.
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Patrick Gann
Hands-On Preview
Patrick Gann

Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica is coming in early 2009 from NIS America. This has been a long-awaited sequel for me, personally. So when I had the opportunity to play an early build of the English version, I jumped on it. Let me tell you what I've found out, so far.

The opening cut scene lays out much of the exposition. There is a Goddess who rules over the land, and she has apparently denied the Reyvateils (singing robot females with technological and magical powers) the freedom they had sought. Thus, a rebellious faction arose, led by the Reyvateil Cloche. More details are given during the prologue to show what factions existed on the floating continent and its massive tower. You then begin the game by controlling the young male protagonist, who is currently battling some "defective" Reyvateil. Apparently, a virus is spreading that makes the Reyvateil go insane. This virus, the "IPD," has no known origin, though each faction suspects the other may have brought it to life.

The opening hours of gameplay definitely illustrate improved graphics, quality sound (including a beautiful opening track), and a completely revamped combat system. With all of this said, the changes to combat are what have me most excited about Ar tonelico II. It's a mix of turn-based and real-time combat. You have the offensive turn, then the defensive turn. Both of these run on a ticking clock, during which you input commands quickly and efficiently to make decisions in order to survive. The D-pad controls which action a character takes (these actions, or skills, can be reassigned in a menu), and the four "shape" buttons select which character you are telling to act. The circle button, however, is the sacred domain of your Reyvateil (you can also, eventually, play with two Reyvateils in the party, and triangle goes to the second Reyvateil). Once you have a Reyvateil in your party, you can begin to set up song magic. The song magic functions in a way similar to the first Ar tonelico, but the real-time aspect forces you to pay attention to your Reyvateil. This is especially true during the defense phase, where you have to protect your Reyvateil in real time with button input.

With this system, it will take both precision and tactical know-how to conquer the more difficult foes of the game (of course, I haven't encountered anything difficult yet, because I've only played the first few hours of the game).

The "conversation" and "dive" systems are back as well. Throughout the first part of the game, you will be able to interact with two different Reyvateil and decide which one you like more. Regardless, you can plow deep into the subconscious realms of both. This system remains somewhat similar to the first game, though there are changes in place. What those changes are, I cannot say entirely until I've played the entire game.

Suffice it to say, I'm excited to see what this game has in store for us. The first Ar tonelico was an excellent addition to the PS2 RPG library, and I have very high hopes for the sequel. We will see, come late January.


© 2008-2009 NIS America, Namco Bandai, Gust. All rights reserved.

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