Review by Daeyeth
"Unique & Stylish, a Game Definitely Worth the Money"
First of all, I'm going to try to be as non-biast as possible, even though I am a huge fan of the anime, .hack//Sign. As you probably know, .hack//Infection is the first part of a four-game series as well part of the bigger .hack universe which include a TV series, OAV series, and a manga series. Most of you will buy, rent, or play the game without any prior knowledge of the other mediums, so I will review the game as if I'd never heard of any of that. Also, I’m going to be going a bit more in depth that most other reviews, so be prepared for a long read.
The battle system is interesting to say the least. It's a real-time battle system that’s comprised of three main components: controlling the camera, giving commands to your party, and commanding your main character. When you’re first starting the game, you'll probably start out utilizing a hit and run strategy; that is to say, hit the enemy, then run away to dodge it attacks, and repeat. Because of that, you’ll be moving the camera a lot during that time, which can be a bit of a hassle, but you get used to it and there isn’t too much of it after you past the beginning part of the game. That doesn't last too long as soon as you level up a bit and get two other party members. The easy to medium battles usually just consist of mashing the attack button to hit the enemy. Your party members will automatically use normal physical attacks unless ordered otherwise or unless they are a magic class type character (in which case they’d just sit there).
Other battles however, ranging from medium to hard, we consist of telling your other characters to either attack with magic skills, attack skills, or healing and managing your own character. You tend to use skills a lot because your skill points regenerate rather quickly. Tough battles can be pretty chaotic, but fun at the same time. Certain enemies are require different strategies which at a bit more variety to battle. Other than battles however, most of the gameplay consists of read mail and boards for new quests, going to towns to re-supply, going into the dudgeons, then rinse, wash, and repeat. Thankfully, the concept the game uses, the game within a game concept, is a refreshing and uses a variety of new, unique methods of gameplay, such as the Keyword System or Gate Hacking, so it won’t really bother you (what RPGs aren’t repetitive anyhow?).
Right of the bat, almost within the first thirty minutes, the story hits you hard. I’m not going to be going into any specifics so I won’t spoil anything. It’s hard to review the story since the game itself was made to be only part of a much bigger picture. There’s definitely the feeling of some grand, mysterious force beginning to shape up, but this game is really just an intro to everything else. Many parts leave me wanting the characters to talk a bit more to go more into depth and maybe some of the characters could use a bit more developing. Besides that however, the story is unique, refreshing, and a good change from the typical RPG. It keeps you motivating into wanting to find out more about this huge mystery surrounding “The World”.
This section is one part of the game that I can’t help but relate to the TV series, .hack//Sign. Having watched .hack//Sign, I was incredibly impressed by the beautifully composed music that added so much to the atmosphere, so it boosted up my expectations for the music in the game. However, I was very disappointed. The music isn’t bad at all, but it’s not the best in the world either. It gets the job done I suppose. Some of the sound effects really made me cringe, such as the cartoony, unrealistic sound of a physical attack connecting, while others went great with the visuals, such as the Data Drain move. Where the game really comes through is in the voiceovers, although that could vary depending on which option you choose. The English dubbing is so-so and eventually you do get used to it. If compared to another “okay” English dubbed RPG, FFX, I’d say it ranks a bit below that, but not by too much. The Japanese dubbing, which comes with subtitles, is excellent in my opinion. It’s exactly what I expected. Personally, I tend to read the subtitles anyways even if they are saying it in English, mostly because it’s a habit that comes from playing of all the other RPGs.
I loved the game and found it being worthwhile. While the game isn’t flawless, it has its own unique flavor to it and it can only get better from here. It has a lot of potential in the future installments of the game. I definitely recommend picking this one up.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/03, Updated 02/14/03
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