I'm now about 10 hours in, with about an hour or two of that pure leveling, just finished Leviathan, and here are some random thoughts :
- So if Rehks was Gabranth and Vayne's witness, the one they needed to finger Basch for the killing of the king, that means that he has to have lived at least long enough to tell someone. So how long did he live, after the massacre in Nalbina? Might he still be alive? The White Room scene still seems ambiguous to me. Vaan seems pretty convinced that he's dead, though.
- Penelo may think that Vaan is a punk kid and an irritating little brother, but she also seems to be pretty sweet on him. Maybe it's just my various 'ship preferences coming through, but as early as Bhujerba, I'm seeing the seeds of the Vaan/Penelo/Larsa triangle being sown. Larsa is just as awesome on the second play-through, by the way. So is Penelo -- I'd forgotten just how much I liked her from the very beginning, and that I was waiting from the very beginning for her to be a full-time part of the party.
- When Balthier and Larsa meet in Bhujerba for the first time and Larsa introduces himself as "Lamont", I could swear that Balthier knows who Larsa is, or at least suspects. And vice versa. At the very least, there's a weird tension there.
- Some things are totally obvious on a replay: Balthier's reaction to first hearing the name "Draklor Laboratories" from Larsa and his derisive comments about the judges while they're in the dungeon, Dr. Cid chatting away to an invisible Venat on his first appearance. The Dr. Cid bit was played particularly nicely -- he walks past Gabranth, apparently holding a conversation with himself; Gabranth pauses, and you can just imagine what his face must look like behind the helm, his raised eyebrows safely hidden from the world.
- The Leviathan is such a great place to level. Enemies keep coming, all the same enemies so you can get some crazy chains going, and there are plenty of safe places to retreat. One of the potential pitfalls of a replay is that you don't spend nearly as much time flailing (I know I at least spent a lot of time running around in circles, in the dungeons and in the mines), so you have to make a concerted effort to level. The only downside of the Leviathan is that there's no ready source of cash -- the soldiers drop gil (or whatever it's called in this game -- I forget off the top of my head), but generally not as much as you would get for selling fiend loot. Although I do appreciate the way this game has the enemies drop things that make sense: soldiers have money, potions, and other restoratives; animals have pelts, other creatures have things that relate to the kind of beastie they are. Knowing from the very beginning that you're just supposed to sell all that stuff, that you aren't saving it up for some kind of item synthesis, has made gameplay a lot easier this time through.