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The gameplay opens up at about 1/3 of the way through the first playthrough. The game is meant to be played more than once. I'm done playthrough #2 (and the entire thing was immersive and fun as hell, because I could essentially make *EVERY* fight different), and I still want to level to 32 to have duplicates of *every* ability to see what kind of Armageddon I can conjure up for Cloudbank.
The story itself was decent IMO (presented very well though) but the setting is what made it really interesting. The way the city functions and how the story ties into how their society operates. But then, even in fantasy stories I'm fascinated by how administration and society work. I really enjoyed the combat, especially toward late game. Menus were unintuitive. I got a crush on ALB.
I did hate the ending though.
I agree with this fully, and I'm not even the kind of person who's always interested in administration and society. I went, "okay, let's delve into this, since it's a huge key point in this story" and they just handled it excellently.
Currently Playing: God of War III, LittleBigPlanet 1 & 3, Jak & Daxter HD, Re: Chain of Memories, Ground Zeroes