Mar 31, 20115In a nutshell, this third AT game is mostly a step back from AT2. The character interactions are a little better, but the gameplay is much worse.
Starting right with the bad, the battle system in AT3 is very bare-bones. They went with a Star Ocean style battle system, but forgot to give your characters any interesting skills to make these battles fun. You will pretty much just be spamming the same attack over and over and over. To make matters worse, there are only three non-Reyvateil party members the entire game. In previous AT games, your Reyvateil(s) had a numbers of different songs (aka spells) to choose from. Here, you get one attack spell and that's it. The final nail in the coffin is that, like the previous games, the difficultly is still laughable. Your Reyvateil's attack is so strong that all non-bosses will die in one shot, and unlike AT2 you have to charge and use this in every battle past the halfway point as your melee attackers hit for 10 damage on enemies with 20000+ HP. The controversial gimmick in AT3 is the purge system. Basically you hold a button and shake the controller every so often and your Reyvateil will...strip. Doing so increases the song damage and special effects provided to the others. There is absolutely no sense whatsoever to this beyond blatant fanservice, seeing as AT1 and 2 took place in the same world and yet have never heard of this Reyvateil 'power-up method'. It's really just a huge step down from AT2s gameplay, and you really have to wonder if the game would have been better off as straight visual novel this time around.
The popular synthesis system is back, but unlike previous games the sole benefit to using it is for the banter while making it. As noted above, your non-Reyvateil party members are little more than distractions, so equipment upgrades have almost no impact on performance. Not that you need to get your upgrades this way, as enemies drop equipment and accessories like candy. Basically you will make everything once to see if it triggers a talk event afterwards, then never looks at the stuff again.
The game's saving grace is the Cosmosphere and character banter. The characters in AT3 have better chemistry than in previous games, so the relationships don't feel completely forced by the writers. The secondary characters get developed a bit more than previous titles as well. As other reviewers have said, this game flies past the semi-subtle innuendo in previous titles and goes right into openly discussing sexual fetishes. On one hand, it gets a little crude at times, but on the other hand it's somewhat refreshing to dispense with the *winkwinknudgenudge* dialogue for once. Combined with the purge cutscenes, that M rating is fully justified so be warned. There sadly aren't alternate costumes like in previous AT games, instead having (without spoiling any plot) a few different 'personas'. It's not quite as good, but I guess they couldn't justify having 9 different costumes per Reyvateil with the purge cutscenes. The overall story isn't amazing, but it provides a reasonable conclusion to the AT series.
All in all, there's not much to say here. For fans of the series the game's strengths are the same as previous titles, and the weaknesses...are sadly standard to AT as well. You won't be playing this for the gameplay. Players new to the series looking for a new jRPG should run away. This is a visual novel first, and a game second.
6/10 for AT fans
4/10 for anyone else… Expand
Mar 21, 20118Ar Tonelico Qoga is one of those games that will appeal to a select crowd. It is almost a traditional JRPG. This game likely will not appeal to gamers that are heavy into Western styled RPGs like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout 3 or Demons' Souls. Graphically Ar Tonelico Qoqa is beautiful. Not quite cell shaded, but somewhere past that. The characters are anime style, in keeping with Japanese tradition. At times it feels almost as if your characters are on the background rather than in the background. The colors are varied and bright. Combat is similar to the Tales of series of games. It's not turnbased, but action based. You can time your attacks with the Harmonic graph/bar causing the Reyvateil's Heart beat to increase, eventually allowing you to do a "Purge" move. Sort of like a special attack that's pretty powerful. Good for boss fights, not as useful in normal fights. You can also hit the X button for a magic attack done by the Reyvateil in your party. At the beginning of each fight your Reyvateil begins singing. The strength of the magic attack is based off the song percentage. There are no enemies on screen so fights are random, but there is a gauge on the lower right of your screen that is sort of an indicator of when a fight is approaching. It can happen regardless of color but the closer to red it gets the more likely an encounter will happen. When the gauge is empty there is no more combat in the area until you zone out and re-enter. The story line is interesting, but slow to pick up. Around 6 or 7 hours before it really picks up. You are able to "dive" into the cosmospheres of your Reyvateils' (call it mind diving) and help them to over come aspects of their personality and to perform stronger magic attacks. There is an option to change the English voice acting to Japanese voice acting. Overall I have been enjoying Ar Tonelico Qoga. I hope others give this gem a try. As I said to begin, it won't appeal to everyone, but it is a solid title once you get past the minor flaws.… Expand
Apr 17, 20116I always liked Gust's Rpgs for many reasons: they tend to be "old-style" and their stories aren't that serious but yet are enjoyable, reminding me of fables...well this game can be a sort of half-way work. First of all the story starts off rather rushed and fast but tends to improve with time (sort of); the graphics are ok and I particularly liked the backgrounds even if they are 2d and the music is nothing to be reminded but it does it's job good enough. What are the problems then? First of all, the battle system...it feels kinda weak, thin and totally lacking: your main job is to attack the enemies by pressing just one button 3 times and then cast the spell that your Reyvateil for finishing them by using purging for powering up their spells: the end. That's it mostly, and you don't even need to parry: it's automatic (by standing still...). You can also defend your Reyvateil by pressing circle when an enemy attacks her, but that's it basically: it feels like they rushed this battle system and your main job is to just help your Reyvateil to cast better magic, as your attacks won't be as strong as hers later in the game. But to me the biggest flaw of this game is just one: the fan-service. I mentioned before you need to purge for powering up your spells...and you do that by stripping your Reyvateil: it feels very annoying and very unnecessary and even though they explain "why" they have to strip it grows tiresome with time, making you skip their "strip" in battle from the start. However I enjoyed the game and if the players can pass the "purging" and fan-service gimmicks (or enjoy, depends on the taste) I would really say this isn't a bad game and it's worth a check before getting it completely.… Expand
Apr 23, 20124One of the best JRPGs on the PS3. Cutscenes are in the traditional way (text box and sometimes voice acting). It has a variety of endings that depends on your choices. Graphics are simple, but the illustrations are very well made in anime style. Battle system is cool and the characters are charismatic. I read some reviews saying that a negative point about this game is that it's pervert. Well, it is pervert, but what's the problem? There are a lot of games out there with intense violence, dirty language and bad manners. And they don't get lower grades by it, so what's the point? Pervert is a bad thing? Stop with false moralism. Anyway, why did I give a 4? Well, it has a serious problem that is being ignored by the publisher: constant freezing in the battles. You can enjoy the story, but when you get in the battle... that's when you start crying. It's impossible to fight without lags, low frame rate ou whatever you wanna call. The screen keeps freezing all the time and there's nothing you can do about, unless someday they release a patch fixing it. Otherwise... focus on the story and forget the fun of the battles. You can beat the game even with the freezing, but be aware that you will not be fully excited about it.… Expand
Apr 3, 201110I'll admit it, I'm a sappy, sentimental, romantic kinda guy, growing up on games like Lunar and Grandia I really came to enjoy a good love story in my RPGs. Sadly for many RPGs a love interest is just shoehorned in, a tacked on extra or a checkbox in the big list of stuff they think they have to include, so much so that many people think they're pointless or add nothing to the game or even detract from it. So when the Ar Tonelico series came along I was really excited to see a series that really went for it with the love story. Of course I'm several hundred RPGs on since I started and there's a lot of things I like in an RPG, good music, a well thought out world that feels alive and has a sense of culture, large swathes of character interaction, likeable characters, a battle system that is both fun and different etc. Thankfully Qoga succeeds in a number of these categories and excels in a few.
As with the other games in the series, Ar Tonelico Qoga takes place in a tower above their inhospitable planet of Ar Ciel which has been covered by the sea of death. Unlike the other games where reyvateils were partners and lived among humans or below them, in this area reyvateils dominate over humans and carry out cleansings and purifications, either killing humans or enslaving them in the name of Clustania. The scale of the story is both massive in scope and minute in detail and is constantly balancing between intimate personal issues, large scale political movements and events with world changing consequences in a really satisfying way.
Of course the story hinges on the two female leads, Saki and Finnel. They're reyvateils, a race of artificially created(though still biological) humanoids with the ability to use song magic. Saki is optimistic and innocent, Finnel is pessimistic and cynical, two fairly standard personality types, however when you begin to unfold the events that molded their personality they really become great, memorable characters. A further and unique level of complexity is added to them in the form of their personae. Both of them have a number of alternate personalities that govern aspects of their personalities. Sarapatra for example is a more mature, adult side of Saki. I can't talk too much more about them without spoiling some of the fantastic twists and turns of the story but you're left questioning if these personae are truly other sides of them or something else as they often work against their other sides desires.
The other vanguard characters, Tatsumi and Hikari, took me by surprise with how great they were too. With such an emphasis on the romance between the hero and heroines you'd expect them to take a backstage and play a bit part, but no, they have their own story and goals which you help them to achieve while they help Aoto with his quest too. In fact in the early stages of the game Tatsumi is so preoccupied with pursuing his own agenda that he seems pretty cold and seems to be constantly looking for an opportunity to leave the group. He just cant ignore Aoto's troubles though and through the course of the game develops to be a really great friend.
Even beyond the main cast, many of the NPCs have amazingly well thought out stories, some of them even tying back into plot threads through the previous two games in the series. I particularly enjoyed Mute, Akane and Richaryosha. Mute is a massive muscular melee fighter, completely railing against the regular idea of a reyvateil as a songstress summoner. Despite her role as an enemy early on and her fearsome appearance she's quite a sweetie at heart and can be oddly cute at times. Though still terrifying when running around shouting HONEY! DARLING! Akane too is an enemy to Aoto, but she's also Finnel's childhood friend. she's a cold hearted ruthless commander at first, but if you're a good enough friend to Finnel you might just end up being friends with Akane too.
The crowning glory of the Ar Tonelico series is definitely it's hymmnos, songs that are sung in a language specially created for the games. There are a couple of oddball tracks in there, particularly CUTYPUMP and EP=NOVA are strange tracks that I didn't like at first, but suit the characters really well. They hugely expanded the number of vocal artists working on this game and some of them are really great, KOKIA's tracks are beautiful. The rest of the soundtrack isn't quite as great and might be slightly disappointing to fans of the previous games but dont misunderstand, it's still a wonderful OST, better than almost everything else out there. It just had an unbelievable pedigree to live up to. Some of the slower tracks used in the more emotional and intimate scenes are really memorable soulful pieces.
Overall out of the hundreds of RPGs I've played this will be one of those I really cherish, it's the only RPG so far this gen other than Valkyria Chronicles I feel is really a classic in the making.… Expand
Apr 7, 20118This game is not as bad as they say ... Sure, the graphics are not as spectacular as that of Mass Effect 2, the combat system is very simple and shallow ... but if like me you love Japanese RPG this rpg is for you! The character design is fantastic and detailed, the environments are colorful and imaginative and the story is not bad. Then, like the two predecessors, the relationships between the characters are very deep and detailed. Ultimately, given the scarcity of role-playing games in recent years, if I were you I would buy this just a splendid example of jrpg, now an endangered category, unfortunately.… Expand
Sep 9, 20118A good end to the trilogy. This game had great characters, and dives are a little more fleshed out then usual and is a very welcoming change as it gives the characters more development and personality then the last 2 games offered. Also the music in game is the best in the series yet. Also being the last means they finally answered some lingering questions that was previously left unanswered and overall the story is just more fleshed out then normally. Mutliple endings adds great replay and allows you to explore your fav Reyvateil more intricately. Sadly the biggest complaint about the game is that it incorporated a very average action RPG gameplay. It's just very plain and basic. A disappointment considering Ar tonelico 2 had really great turnbased gameplay but it's still better then Ar tonelico 1 gameplay. It's a shame they didn't add to the great turnbase gameplay if the game had the gameplay it would of been a great game. But as a fan of the series it was still the best game in all the other fields and it was still fun to play through, so for that I give it a 8.… Expand
Jul 13, 20116After the first's game flawed emergence into the world followed up by superb squeal (with a not so superb localization) one would think the 3rd game would a golden rainbow that hands out candy. Sadly this game is a step backwards, in more ways than one. For whatever reason it's similar to the first game rather than the second one. The combat while no longer turned based is not all that good. While the match the attacks with the meter thing at the bottom of the screen was a nice touch the combat lacks the "Tales Of Game" flexibility to pull that off. For the most part the Reyvateils that are considered so useful and valuable throughout the games don't even feel necessary. By time the magic is strong enough to be useful without spamming super attacks the enemy will already be dead from constant wailing. Then there's the weird stripping function which replaces different song magic, while the system works well there is no reason for the strange removal of clothes. Though to make it even the males lose theirs when they use their super moves too which creates what I like to call, "The hot spring laser barrage" Besides the music being awesome and story tying up all the loose ends through the last two games, it was a nice touch to add more detailed conversations during item creation. And while the mind diving is still interesting the Characters aren't as good as the ones in Ar Tonelico 2 and their respective life stories are not as interesting. In a way moving the last game to 3D didn't do a whole lot of good for the game and it's sad that the grand finale of the Ar Tonelico saga wasn't as good as it could have been.… Expand
Oct 26, 201185There's always more to learn of the characters in all sorts of ways, and underneath the goofiness, there was still a thick layer of strong narrative and character development that kept me invested through sixty hours. I don't know if JRPGs will ever return to their previous prominence, but if Ar Tonelico Qoga is any indication, they still have a lot to offer.
Apr 27, 201160With all the technological bells and whistles driving this sequel, it ended up halting rather than evolving the series. Great animations set against clunky backgrounds, too much repetition in both the combat and music, and the lack of difficulty hold this JRPG back from being something truly special.