Ar Tonelico 2 is a game that can please everybody in the RPG field. It has a long and evolving story with characters that grow. It has a real time battle system that is far and away from button mashing. It has plenty and diverse side quests. It has great music tracks. Whatever you want its in here.
The story spans 5 phases and all of which build on the previous ones. The opening scene sets up for a delicious Reveal late in the game. The second sets up the plot on two levels. After spending the first phase introducing characters their relations are developed to the end. They are distinct and multi-faceted. In Phase 1 there is a decision which determines the course of the second phase as well as the ending.
The battle system is far too complex for button mashing. Vanguards choose from one of four attacks which not only vary in damage but the time taken and their effect on the Revateil partner. The defense system takes practice and concentration to master. All of this plays into the development of the Revateil's song; the fine use of which is crucial to make progress. The game does infodump all this in a Talking Is A Free Action
kind of way, but at the time it doesn't matter and the player can pick it up.
There are three major side quests: Synthesis, Cosmosphere and I.P.D collecting. The first not only creates most of the items you'll use but are self-contained plot threads that develop the characters. The second creates song magic in addition to major character development. Surpassing level 5 in any of the three changes the game's ending, creating replay value. The final one is perfect for min maxing as the IPD can be junctioned to vanguads to increase their stats as well as boost song magic. There's more than enough to do if you don't feel like advnacing the story.
Really the onl flaw is the visuals because spritis are used but they're fairly detailed and expressive portraits are used in conversations. Plus there's a scattering of animated sequences. The soundtrack for Replakia sounded epic every time I started it; this haunting and powerful chanting. Even though I beat it, I'm going to play it again because there's still more to it.