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Ar tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica: Two 'Teils are Better than One
Company: NIS America

You're forgiven if you read the game's title as Metallica rather than Metafalica... I did the same thing the first time I saw it and it looks like my computer is insisting on calling it that as well. The word actually refers to a legendary song that is a central part of Gust's latest entry in the Ar tonelico series.

Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica is a direct sequel to the 2006 RPG and takes place a year after the first game. The game takes place in the same world, though in different region, Metafaluss, which surrounds a new tower, Infel Pira. Despite geographical differences, the game's world still involves the song-battling Reyvateils, who are falling victim to a mysterious virus called Infel Pira Dependency (IPD). Once the virus sets in, it slowly drives the song maidens insane, eventually killing them. Playing as a young knight from the Grand Bell Hall, Croix, you are charged with figuring out what is causing the problem and hopefully eliminating it.

The first game featured a symbiotic, song-based combat system where Reyvateils and their human protectors needed to work together in battle. Humans would stand on the frontlines and attack while Reyvateils hung back, using song magic to cast powerful spells. The longer the song lasted, the more powerful it would become. Ar tonelico 2 uses the same basic system, though the structure has been tweaked.

Battles take place in two phases. During the first phase, human characters can attack using one of four moves. Each of these moves affects your Reyvateils' emotions, which in turn increases their effectiveness in battle. Once this phase ends, enemies get a chance to attack your Reyvateils, forcing you to use defensive moves to keep them alive. As with the first game, keeping your Reyvateils alive and singing is priority one. Reyvateils' spells can grow to become incredibly powerful and really do some damage if given enough time.

The new system also gives you access to two Reyvateils in battle along with a new system called Syncrinity. The system plays into the Reyvateils' magic and increases the spell's power if you can sync their emotions. This is easier said than done, but if you can pull it off... well, let's just say that Reyvateils can become much more powerful than the original let on.

The Cosmosphere system from the first game has also seen a few tweaks. The Cosmosphere refers to the Reyvateils' subconscious, which you can venture into during the game. For lack of a better explanation, diving into a Reyvateils' subconscious plays out like a dating sim. While inside the Cosmosphere, you'll face off against the song maiden's inner demons and hopefully earn their trust, improving their link to Croix and unlocking new spells.

For fans of the original or anyone interested in really unique RPGs, Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica should be on your list. Look for a review when it releases in January '09.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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