There are many things the Xenosaga games have going for them, and graphics is one of their top draws. The most notable change from Episode I to Episode II is the change of art style. While Episode I featured an anime style of art with big eyes and everything else that goes with it, Episode II makes a move toward more realism and I think it works much better. The storyline of Xenosaga is a very serious one, and I think this change pushes Episode II a step ahead of its predecessor, at least visually.
In my Episode I review, I mentioned the game had a “clean room” feel to the environments; they felt plastic and unlived in. Since Xenosaga Episode II takes place primarily on the surface of planets rather than in spaceships, this problem is far less of an issue, and there seems to be a conscious effort to give the world a more organic feel to it.
Cinematic – that sums up what you can expect from the music and sound effects. Episode II takes itself very seriously, and this is reflected in its soundtrack. You have your explosions, laser blips, and all the rest of the effects you expect from a sci-fi story. The music consists of your usual eerie electronic tracks, your chipper upbeat tracks, and your fast-paced techno, among others. There’s nothing revolutionary about the audio, but it does what it does well.