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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: NIS America
Developed By: Namco Bandai Games America
Genre: JRPG
Players: 1
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: January 20, 2009
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

February 17, 2009 - While many modern gamers find enjoyment within First-Person Shooters, fighting games, and even sports titles, not that many gamers are actually into role-playing games, especially of the Japanese influence. While there have been exceptions like Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star and a few others, JRPGs donít receive the attention they truly deserve within North America. NIS America has had a pretty good track record with releasing JRPGs within North America and they look to continue this trend with the release of the Ar Tonelico sequel, Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica.

Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica isnít some water-down RPG attempting to grasp at straws. AT2 gives the right amount of story and action, all at a consistent pace, keeping you enjoyed from the beginning to the end. The story of AT2 is all about two opposing groups, the Grand Bell and the Sacred Army, who are battling one another, while at the same time trying to free them from the oppression of a powerful Goddess. The Grand Bell believes that the only solution to their problem is to defeat the Goddess and create Metafalica their own why, while the Sacred Army is looking for a deeper reason as to why the Goddess wonít allow them to create Metafalica. What makes this story engaging, yet complex, is the fact that the focal point is about the relationships between Croix and Lady Cloche, Croix and Luca, Luca and Lady Cloche, etc. The game is grounded in morals and the complexity of decision making.

To balance out the game, it also features a simplistic, yet complex approach to the combat system. Set within a turn-base system, you take turns attacking and defending yourself from various enemy groups, whether it is the Sacred Army, infected Rayvateils, various enemy types, etc. You choice of attacks range from song magic, weapon attack, bombs, healing abilities, etc. While in battle, you main goal is to keep your Rayvateil alive through the battle, which can help guarantee your victory. Every time your opponent attack, a gauge appears with a moving bar, which you must match up with a solid bar in order to successfully, block an oncoming attack or to just simply keep your Rayveteil from taking on damage at that cost of your character receiving damage. While many of the battles can be completed without the use of song magic, the ability is a vital key for surviving some battles.

Touching on song magic, whether itís Luca or any other Rayvateil, in order to build their magic abilities up, one must ďdiveĒ into their metal realm in order to build stronger bonds with the player and stronger magic to boot. This ability is a vital part to the story progression and how to also make you supporting cast stronger over time. Other ways to boost their abilities is to use special crystals, which can enhance their attacking power, defense, resistance to elemental attacks, etc. As far as the non-Rayvatiel characters, they level up through normal battles and acquiring new weaponry, whether itís through battles or creation.

For those who have never experienced a JRPG, let alone the previous Ar Tonelico titles, you are in for a nice surprise by the slew of sexual innuendo throughout the game. This is done through certain wording of text within conversations, voiceover work during battles, stylized anime-style stills and even full-feature cutscenes spread throughout the game. For some, the sexual innuendo may not be picked up on right away due to the use of emotions and the different levels and complexities of love, protection, honor, etc. utilized within the story.

Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica utilizes some impressive 2D visuals. From the character sprites, to the image stiles and special effects, everything is highly detailed and looks rather impressive, whether you are gaming on a regular TV, or popping the game in your ps3 console to play it in HD. The full motion cutscenes boast impressive color depth and are well put together. They aid to carry the story to the next level, especially when the in-game actions canít truly express what the developers are trying to convey at particular moments throughout the story. The musical soundtrack is one for the ages. The tunes vary from slow and emotional ballads, to upbeat and energetic tunes that tend to lend themselves very well to battle sequences and certain cutscenes. The voiceover work is well done, giving you your choice if hearing everything in either English or Japanese.

Well some could argue that Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica has some shortcomings; I found this title to be solid in each and every aspect of the title. For RPG lovers, this is a must have title. From beautifully render static backdrops and character sprites, an in-depth and engaging storyline, and a solid musical scoreÖ Ar Tonelico 2: melody of Metafalica is the perfect JRPG to play in 2009 as the wave of genre-defining titles will continue to materialize.


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