Review by Heatmiser

".hack review, minus the pathetic otaku/fanboy bias"

Ordinarily, throughout my twenty-plus years of video gaming experience, I wouldn't generally make a review for a title which already has several previous ones. But when there's a game so heavily tinged with anime and anime influences, you get a LOT of dorky fanboys- many of whom are on these GameFAQs.com message boards at the moment- inexorably warping the truth. I'll get into that in a moment, but first, how about some .hack//infection info?

You play a young man who's playing inside a computer game, even though .hack is not played online... or a computer game. Got it so far? Good! Whilst playing with your best pal, something disturbing happens to his character online, at which time the person playing him in REAL life goes into a coma, a circumstance which you'll understand a lot more when you view the FREE DVD that comes with the game. (Cool beans I say!)

After this, you and your character's inexplicable data-hacking powers go on a quest, online (though the actual home game isn't online, remember), to find out what happened to your buddy, and why. If you're remarking to yourself what a wild and unique premise this is for a video game, you're correct. Unfortunately this is where the fanboys tend to throw you.

Anime Fanboy Mistruths, a.k.a. Otakuisms:

A) Yes, there is no Parody Mode (a mode that, upon completing the game, allows you to replay it with goofy dialogue replacing the old), which does indeed blow mightily. Yet you DO get the option of using a Japanese or newly added English language spoken dialogue soundtrack throughout this heavily-voiced game, which is a nice, albeit disappointing tradeoff. But don't worry about what the otaku/dorks say concerning the voice acting; it's pretty darn well done, and exceptionally faithful to the Japanese originals, using some experienced North American voice actors. I'd rather have Parody Mode, but hey, what're you going to do.

B) Fanboys and Bandai butt-smoochers take note! The battle system is NOTHING LIKE KINGDOM HEARTS. Personally, I feel .hack has but one flaw- which is a doozy!- that it's too much unlike Kingdom Hearts, in that your character, Kite, and his party are allowed simply to run up to an enemy, slash or use a spell, and run off. In KH? You could slash, parry, thrust, dodge, cast spells on the go, counterattack, somersault, defensively roll, fly around, or shield yourself during the heat of battle. In .hack? You sprain your thumb whacking the enemy to death before he can do the same to you. When the battle is over, heal, then repeat ad nauseam. And did I mention you have to control the camera yourself the entire time? Le sigh. It's not a dreadful engine, particularly if you enjoyed Phantasy Star Online, .hack's closest battling cousin. It's just that with the butt-kicking storyline and gorgeous character designs (the best designs I've seen, perhaps, since Valkyrie Profile), I was hoping for a bit more. Can't have it all, you say? Perhaps such is the case this time.

But hey, do not let it be said the flaws outweigh the positives for this title. .hack//infection is one heckuva video game. Purchase it, watch the accompanying free DVD, and lose yourself in an engrossing gaming universe of mystery, intrigue, and deception. Just be sure to rest your thumb every five minutes or so...

Graphics- 8
Sound- 9
Gameplay- 6
Control- 5
''Look & Feel''- 10
Overall- 8


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/16/03, Updated 02/16/03


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