Can i has Vidya Tiem? Ar tonelico 2 review.

Hi there,guess what we are talking about ?  Yes,you got it right: today’s post is about Ar tonelico 2:Melody of Metafalica (AT2 for both yours and mine sanity) which incidentally represents my first gaming review ever.So please bear with me,will ya? Just think of this as your good deed for today.

First of all,AT2 is an RPG that was developed by Gust for the Sony PlayStation 2 .It was released in North America on January 20, 2009 by NISA and it finally made its way in Europe on May 29.

The game takes place in the world of Ar Ciel,where life is only possible on a few floating continents.While in the first AT the majestic tower of Ar tonelico was near the land of Sol Ciel ,protecting it,in the small continent of Metafalss the second tower is nowhere to be seen.Worse, Reyvateils(a female race capable of using magic through singing) have been succumbing to a sickness called the Infel Phira Dependency (I.P.D.),which causes them to go berserk.As the young Croix,lance-wielding Knight of the Grand Bell Church of Pastalia,your mission will be to contain them but needless to say,there is much more going on.
So,now that you have a basic idea of what the hell is this game and what’s happening in it let’s proceed with the review.

GRAPHICS: 7/10   ( World 6/10 + Battles 8/10)

This is a shining example of “mixed bag”.The various CG,character portraits and sprites are undoubtedly well drawn and battles flow well with almost no slowdowns,smooth animations and plenty of good-looking special effects: sparkles,ice shards,lightnings…there’s almost everything in the book.Plus,you’ll be treated to some short anime cutscenes everytime a Song is activated on its max rank or your party members use their special moves,and said cutscenes are pretty sweet.

However,once the battle is over things don’t look so good anymore.The main problem is the camera angle which is a side-scrolling similar to one used by the Paper Mario series.Incidentally,this gives off the same feeling which doesn’t work too well in this game:2D backgrounds are usually well done but depth isn’t a concept that is handled too well ,so moving towards the background feels quite awkward.

However,the the majority of the exploration goes through 3D polygonal locations so things will be better right? WRONG! because the majority of said locations looks dull and uninspired.I get it that we are supposed to travel through a mostly artificial world,but recycling the same tilesets over and over,changing their colors and putting the same metal blocks everywhere isn’t the best answer,Gust.

SOUND 8.5/10

This is undoubtedly the best that AT2 has to offer: the game features some really good BGMs that are nothing short of amazing,provided that you like instrumental and typical fantasy themes .There is also a good number of Hymns:these are special songs that (usually) hold a great power in the AT world,and said hymns are sung in Hymnos which is a full language created just for this series.You don’t see something like this in every game.Why only 8.5 then? Because no matter how good the various BGMs are,an RPG needs good,adrenaline-pumping battle themes.And this is where the game fails:not a single one of them fits said criteria.
Regarding the VAing,the actors do their job quite well: they may sound uninspired at times,but it’s overall a good performance.The real problem lies with the SMALL amount of VA present ingame:sure,the game offers dual audio (Japanese + English voices)but for whatever reason only 50% of the original Jap script was voiced in English and the amount of Japanese VA implemented in the western version was reduced to match this amount.This leads to mute major plot scenes and long playtime periods without a single voiced event,apart from battles. And if i may add,the choice of which scenes had to be voiced is questionable at least: the creation of a small continent isn’t voiced at all, but an omelet cooking contest is.

GAMEPLAY  7.5/10

When fighting the enemy there are are 2 phases: Attack and Defense. In the first one,you’ll use your mighty spear (wink,wink) and a vast array of different moves and Songs to bring down whoever was stupid enough to glance at you in a bad way,while in the second one you’ll have to time your defense accordingly to the enemy’s attacks.  No matter how weak they may be,if you don’t time well your defense you’ll be blown away quickly and i cannot stress enough how good this is .Despite the game being easy,you’ll be pressed to always pay attention to what’s happening on the screen,and coupled with the absence of grinding this feature keeps battles quite interesting.

Outside of those,the most relevant and well-done feature is the Diving part:basically,you’ll enter your Reyvateils’ consciousness,solve their problems and help them creating stronger song magic through an interface similar to Visual Novels.This is one a trademark  of the AT series,and really helps character’s development.
An honorable mention goes to the Reyvateils’ leveling system,which doesn’t make sense but it’s awesome nonetheless.Basically,the girls will “warm up each other” by bathing together and you’ll have to add crystals and bath toys to level them up and grant them various bonuses.No,i’m not joking.

Now,onwards to the bad news…to put it simply,going around is boring: Croix can simply walk,run,activate mechanisms and open chests.END.There are no events that require special imput from the player nor some special puzzle or anything outside of the ordinary “door closed,search the switch”. Add that locations are usually quite huge and that Croix is slow,and you’ll see why this section could have been better.
Last but not least,the crafting system is decent but nothing more: you’ll be given various recipes,and the resulting item will vary depending on the Reyvateil with whom you created it. The majority of them are quite useless except for weapons and armors,and this part suffers from the “you need THIS crafted item in order to make THAT which will be necessary to make THIS ” syndrome.

This is a one time corner that won’t appear in future reviews hopefully,and it’s only made to inform you of how awful the overall work on this game is.Seriously,it’s bad.REALLY bad.Not only you’ll find grammar mistakes and incorrect sentences everywhere (“How do you DEAR do this to me”) but even names are spelled wrong sometimes.
Also, the game randomly freezes.It happens very rarely,but it’s an annoying as hell issue that should not be present of course.Said freezing also will ALWAYS occur on US versions when fighting a certain boss,forcing you to win quickly otherwise…beating the game will be impossible.The PAL version had this issue fixed,but for God knows what reason it doesn’t have a 60 Hz option which means being forced to play with huge black borders on top & bottom of the screen.
Note:Metroid Prime had this option,and was out in 2003.Six years ago.Thanks again for the wonderful work, NISA.

OVERALL SCORE: 6/10 ( if you mind localization issues), 7.5/10
If you are searching for an RPG masterpiece,you’ll be disappointed in AT2.However,it is a fun enough game that will last for a while and will keep you interested thanks to a good setting,likable characters and a good enough plot that doesn’t end up on the usual tracks of “kill the long-haired guy that you met 30 hours ago in order to save the world”. Replay value is quite high thanks to 4 different endings and there is always something that will keep you busy,be it crafting,fighting or searching for I.P.D. Reyvateils.


~ by Orpheon on July 20, 2009.

One Response to “Can i has Vidya Tiem? Ar tonelico 2 review.”

  1. Good review. I agree with you, for the most part… I haven’t beaten it yet, but overall I’m disappointed in this game compared to the first one.

    Oh, and don’t forget some text that wasn’t even translated! XD Most notable of which are the Revatiels joining the fan club. Why they’d do so horribly with the localization is beyond me.

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