(Warning: the following post doesn't
So, after more or less forever I finally played and finished AT2 as well as the first one.
Considering how much I liked the latter, I have to say I was pretty hyped up for this. But as it's often the case, the hype backfired at me.
There are some things I want to consider so I'm just gonna make a
Better game balance
In the AT1 post I pointed out how its biggest problem is that the game's too easy. Although AT2 still kinda is - the only fights where I had problems were a few level 9 I.P.D.s, battles that are definitely optional anyway - bosses at least put up a decent fight.
Speaking of which, another good thing was...
Akiko Shikata performs in it
Wait no, I didn't want to say this. Although this is probably the most valid point.
Better battle system
The other reason I didn't mind fights as much as in AT1 is because the battles were ultimately fun. Not perfect, mind you: things like being able to cure yourself at the start of the battle just to run away (with a 100% success rate) right after that, effectively making healing items almost useless, probably make it broken and definitely a bit worse than the system in AT1. Still, overall I'd consider this as a good thing seeing how I enjoyed battles.
Soundtrack is as good as AT1
Which means it's exceptionally good. Not much more to say.
Akiko Shikata performs in it
This is just one of the reasons of the point above. But I wanted to make it clear and give it the importante it deserves.
And I think that's actually it. Now for the funnier part of commenting what was bad (or worse than in AT1 anyway):
The new synthesis system sucks hard compared to Grathmeld
In AT1 you traveled across the world, found recipe cards in dungeon and cities, then you enjoyed your stay at an inn where you had fun staying in the girls' room 'til late
Now this doesn't happen anymore. You don't find recipe cards during your travels, nor you can make shiny things at every savepoint/inn. Now you have to progress the plot a little, then go back to every freakin' shop, where you'll have unlocked one or two cutscenes which will result in the shopkeeper giving you a recipe card.
This is just stupid. Things like cutscenes for every recipe card given to you and the fact that you can craft more than one kind of item from every recipe card (since it depends on the girl you choose to help you out) might be entertaining and make some sense, but the fact that I have to go back at every shop after every dungeon to craft items of dubious usefulness is just a huge fail.
Gimme back muh Grathmeld.
No more crystals for weapons/armors
This is another case of "fixing what ain't broken". In AT1 I had lots of fun searching for and using the best crystals to put in weapons and armors. So why the hell did they have to remove them altogether in here?
At first I thought it was a
So it's just a stupid thing to do.
Plot is meh~ish
To be honest I'm not 100% sure the problem here is the plot or the characters, but I can't say I enjoyed the story that much, that's for sure. And speaking of which...
Characters are incosistent with themselves
Now this is a problem you don't want in your (J)RPG. Especially in the first parts of the game, characters sometimes don't really make sense (yes Luca I'm looking at you most of all).
It might be due to NISA's acknowledged bad localization rather than the screenwriters' fault, but unless you understand Japanese this is a moot point.
Story "phases" don't really make sense
This is probably not very important for most people, but I liked how in AT1 every phase was almost a story of its own. You could take a (long) break at the end of each of them, resume some time afterward, and it'd almost feel like what nowadays would be a DLC. It was nice.
In AT2 this doesn't apply. Every phase is strictly related to the previous one, and they're probably there just to give you an idea of how much you've progressed into the game.
Voice acting is almost non-existent
In AT2, as in its predecessor, you can select between Japanese and English voice acting. It's kinda useless though, since the voiced scenes in both languages are very, very few, especially considering the amount of text the game has.
No seriously what was that. It felt like the game devs woke up a morning and decided to put random mini-games for whatever reason, only to resume normal game mechanics in the next 3 phases. Just... no.
As you can see, ultimately the downsides weight way more than the upsides. Or well, at least they do for me. Which makes it hard for me to suggest an approach to the Ar Tonelico series.
I'm tempted to say to play AT2 first, so that the first one won't ruin it for you, but going back to AT1 battle system after AT2's might feel awkward, and you'd miss some cameos and references too, so you're kinda screwed in any case.
But maybe it's just me. Maybe for some reason I didn't enjoy this very much but others did/would. I guess the only way to be sure is to give it a shot yourself.