Maybe it's just because I haven't played a game that I've actually liked in a long time, but Goddamn, did I enjoy Ar Nosurge (And I was dreading it, too, in the beginning).
Picked it up sometime around this past holiday season, casually plunked 2.5 hours into it, and then shelved it for whenever I actually felt like playing it, which, the urge to finally REALLY start the game and finish it occurred the beginning of this month (March).
For 2 weeks, all my free time was dedicated to Ar Nosurge, which is not something I've been able to do in a long time; usually, I get bored of a game multiple times midway through, and start playing a different game (or games) instead, but Ar Nosurge, somehow, I managed to stay fixated on until I finished it.
Finished it about 2 weeks ago, and over the course of 2 weeks, clocking in at 74 hours (73:54, to be precise); holy shit, right? When was the last time I spent that much time on a single game? Xenogears, maybe? I attribute the amount of time spent to just how much text dialogue there is in the game. For that matter, I did EVERYTHING there was to do in the game, because I wanted the special, secret true endings, which, I think were actually worth it. Don't shut the game off midway through the special endings, because they start to get different from the original endings halfway through!
Several caveats about the game:
-You'll probably only care about it if you're a fan of the classic Ar-Tonelico games, or Gust RPGs in general.
-I don't think the game was as good as the original 2 Ar-Tonelico games, but it's NOT total crap, either.
-The game starts out slow, and really, starts out by getting you accustomed to the synthesis and Souldiving aspects of the game.
-Most of your time will probably be spent with dialogue, with the Syntheses, and Souldiving.
The dungeons in the game are VERY short, and in many cases, once you enter a particular dungeon, the whole entire thing is laid out in front of you - that's to say that most of the dungeons are only ONE SCREEN.
Battle is quick and fast-paced; it's kind of a button-masher, with different attacks being assigned to different buttons (think Valkyrie Profile 2 as an example), well using items or casting Song Magic is done via menu.
For the most part, you'll defeat all of the enemies in a dungeon in a single battle, unless you run out of turns; you have 7 turns to defeat enemies until the battle ends, then you have to wait for another encounter to fight again.
Imagine, if say, Final Fantasy VII had a set amount of enemies in its dungeons, and random encounters would stop once you defeated all of them, until the next time you re-entered a dungeon. Then imagine, that once you defeated an entire enemy formation (battle), instead of battle ending, the game tossed wave after wave of enemies at you, until you either defeated all of them, or ran out of your turn count.
The encounter rate in the game is pretty high - you'll probably end up hitting an encounter as soon as you enter - but if you defeat all waves in a single encounter, you're free to roam the rest of the dungeon without being bothered. Really, it's best to defeat all waves in a single encounter, because that's how you score major spoils, is by getting those multipliers up there.
Defense is done with timed button presses; you'll really have to pay attention to enemy attack animations in order to determine when to guard.
Stats - If there's anywhere the game gets annoying, is with character stats, and how they define them, what stats represent, etc. For example, HP is instead called "Endurance." I had to look these things up in the in-game encyclopedia to figure these things out, because the game's in-game battle tutorial is rudimentary, so there's a fair amount of things you'll have to figure out for yourself; that said, I got through about the first 1/3 of the game before I HAD to resort to that. Once you know how stats work, and what to equip, boss battles are much relatively easier.
All that said, I actually really liked the characters and plot - which I actually paid attention to, or rather, actually kept my attention - and that's more I can say of any other RPG the entire PS3/X360 console generation.
P.S. The game's pretty easy when played on the lowest difficulty, but that still didn't discourage me from maxing out my levels; the last dungeons in the game? You can jump about 12 levels or so at once if you defeat all the enemies in one encounter, and the game's level cap is 99!