To begin with, I'm been playing RPGs for many years now; it's the only genre that I play.
The battle system is great; it gets increasingly difficult, so you are always learning. You have regular attacks and special attacks. Both use an action gauge to predict how many attacks you will have. Special attacks are measured by how much time they take to complete. So lets say the action gauge is 10 seconds and a special attack takes 2.7 seconds; therefore, you have a rough idea how many times you can use that attack. Movement also used the action gauge, as well as using items.
As the game progresses, character levels are not the only levels which increases. You also have "party level" which will increase to a max of six. I'm on level 4 right now, indicating where I am in the game at the moment. As you increase in "party level" the action gauge will decrease faster and faster and continue to decrease even while you stop. If I remember correctly, the first two "party levels" stops the action gauge when you are just standing still. So as the "party level" increases the battle system becomes more difficult. I don't like this personally, but it keeps things interesting I guess. The last "party level" is annoying I've heard. The attack button will disappear and reappear on the screen and you will have to press them in order to attack. So you won't just be sitting there mindlessly pressing buttons. You'll have to pay attention.
To defend you will have to press the circle button when you are prompted by the "defend" icon which shows up during battle. If you press it at the correct time, you will defend. Don't worry, it's much easier that it sounds. Each monster will have a certain rhythm which isn't that hard to figure out at all. You will also be able to defend against boss attacks as well. Defending drastically reduces the amount of damage you receive. Later, at "party level" 4, you will be able to counterattack only regular attack. The "counterattack" icon will also appear just like the "defend" icon.
Lastly, there are "echos". Using regular attacks will build up "echos", which drastically increases the power of "special attacks". So you have two characters, or one, use regular attacks to build up "echos" and the third character will use their special attack and unleash massive damage. Later, at "party level" 4, you will also be able to use "harmony chains" which you will get when you build up at least 24 "echos".
The monsters can be repetitive. For a PS3 game, I expected better graphics, but in all fairness, its a relatively old game. I think the player should get an option of both a battle camera and field camera. When in battle you get a general overview of the battle field and you sort of have to remember where the monsters are, because if you do too much running around, your action gauge will run out and your turn will just end. No attacks. No items. A camera would have helped. But I guess this ALSO adds to the difficulty of the battle system. In the field, the camera is way too high up. I've missed chests because of this.
You will notice as you play, that the game is very linear. You are in a dungeon, you solve the little puzzles, then you have long cut scenes. You are in a dungeon, then long cut scenes. After being in the dungeons, you long for the cut scenes...lol. Leveling up can take a while, but if you fight everything you come across, you don't have to spend hours leveling up. When you leave a room and reenter while solving puzzles (and the puzzles are mainly around how to get chests), the monsters will reset, if you fight all of them again, instead of avoiding them, you won't have to spend hours leveling up, which is why, when you're finished with the dungeons, you long for the cut scenes...lol. For me its a much needed break.
Now for the plot. The plot isn't unheard of. But there are some good twists. It doesn't live up to the twists and turns of a Final Fantasy game, but good nonetheless. A general gist: two nations might be going to war; there is an underground group fighting against what is considered the "evil" nation; the "good" nation doesn't want to go to war; and the "evil" nation is raising an "evil" army...lol...to fight the good nation. There is a twist about how this army is being raised.
You get a choice of Japanese or English voice acting. I chose the Japanese voices because it sounds more authentic. You also get to choose between English and French text. I have Japanese voice and English text/subs.
If you are an RPG player, the characters are not ones you haven't come across before. The dumb blond girl, who is the main female, and wants world peace and speaks with a whisper. The cocky male main character, who like the dumb blond girl; his little brother; the kind of stern and cold female characters; and the joker, who is a girl.
I must say though that in all my years of playing RPGs, I've never come across such stupid characters in my life. The characters are built to be so innocent it seems, even for the brothers who are like Robin Hood characters. They're a bit preachy, especially the dumb blond. They don't understand, or it takes them a long time, to come to the correct answer, even though the answer is staring them in the face. This can be SO ANNOYING. And it seems like when they come to the correct answer, they don't believe it and have to meet the "evil" people to double check and make sure. The game is set up where the two nations are distinct. The "good" nation is in snow, the prince and princess where white, and everything seems to be about life and green stuff. The "evil" nation is darker. The duke (if I remember correctly) wears black. All his minions are evil. Yet, the main characters, still look for "good" in all people, even though the game is set up in such a way where you, the player, knows that there are "good" people and "evil" people in the game world. Very simplistic. It seems as if the script writers us the characters to create doubt about the clear distinction between "good" and "evil" in the game, which I think they fail at.
Chopin life is sort of the compass for the game. You get bits of how his life progresses. There is an interesting inquiry into what denotes reality. I love learning more about Chopin. During the game you can find "score pieces", which come in pairs. You will meet NPCs in the game with whom you can play music with. If the pieces matches up, you will get items.
Should you buy this game? Yes. But it's by no means an emphatic yes. Overall, it's a good game so far. I don't regret buying it. In fact, I'm glad I did. I've wanted it for a while. Maybe, my expectations were too high. I've wanted it since it came out on the XBox 360.
So BUY it.