I'm writing this at college while doing quantitative analysis homework, so don't complain about any incongruence or disjointedness in this review. :D And yes, I remember the title by heart - somehow fun phrases of German words are quite easy to remember.
OK, since we all know how lengthy and deep the storyline of Xenosaga goes, let's be simple, and come down to the just the gameplay, graphics and music, shall we?
For an RPG, Xenosaga II takes a very different approach for most of the game - it aims to be simpler to the casual gamer. As a result, you will find that there are very few items in the game - and somehow, weapons never come into play on your characters ever, unlike in Xenosaga Episode 1, where cryptic model numbers usually indicated which equipment was better and more advanced. *sweats*
The Abilities (stats boost, counters and so on) and Ether (something like magic) system has been combined with one another, but the special Tech Attacks have disappeared from view. Abilities and Ether have been placed into something like a hierarchy system, requiring you to complete unlock a class before being able to move on to a higher level and so on. Ethers and abilities have been combined into one complex system - and every character has an identical hierarchy - some slots are locked at the beginning, and cannot be unlocked the storyline has ended.
Most of the game is actually after the end of the storyline instead of during or before the final boss battle - in contrary to most typical RPGs. In this game, a massive portion of time has to be dedicated to the game after the storyline has ended.
The music composer has changed, and in my belief, Yuki Kajiura has done a great job of following up the great music we had in Xenosaga I from Yasunori Mitsuda. The music is great, although quite a lot of tracks are filled with chanting - the chanting is used to a great effect - and I foudn myself memorising some of the nonsense that I heard.
The graphics of Xenosaga 2 however, have changed focus. Xenosaga 1 had a lot of full motion video sequences which were pretty cool to look at, while Xenosaga 2 does use FMVs, they are made to blend in seamlessly with the in game graphics - this means while we no longer see any more impressive looking sequences, the entire game appears to never leave real time rendering - which I can't say is better, or worse.
The game on overall is an improvement over the first game, although many may argue that some of the factors that were nice in Xenosaga I (cuter, anime like characters) are gone in favour of more mature and realistic looking models now. In fact, when some of the initial screens of the new Shion showed up, I thought it was a new character they were going to introduce. XD