Review by Squid of GI

"Geez. ... I really don't know."

There was nothing special about getting this game. I bought it because I had some extra cash and there was actually a period before the title. This was only the first part of a series and an anime DVD went along with it. Sounds interesting … I guess … so I gave it a shot. My oh my … hmmm ... .hack? What?

Story

Geez. ... I really don't know. The successful trend in both Japan and America is the “series.” Understand that .hack Part 1 is PART ONE. We all hated the way Lord of the Rings Part 1 ended and that idea in itself sparks interest. So, I honestly can’t comment. The story though, is riveting, oh yes. First of all, the DvD introduces you to ''The World'' where real people play a game and become part of it. Some slip into a coma and others possibly die … sheesh. There is definitely a conspiracy going on. It is honestly too early to say much else. There is something very special about .hack. Just play it dawg. Trust me.

Final Story Score: ?/10

Gameplay

Undoubtedly the most important part of any game, anywhere, anyhow, anytime. Anyway ... This game can be endless.
You control up to three (and only three) characters at any one time. You have pure control over Kite (you), and the other two characters follow your basic menu commands such as “Skills!” or “First Aid!” The trick is to responsively use these and more commands to your benefit. This is probably the greatest aspect of .hack Part 1. You must use your brain rather than just attack every enemy on screen with the X button … *cough* --FFX-- *cough*. Constantly pausing throughout a random fight is tedious, but you will come to enjoy it.

Rants:

There were a lot of problems with the camera. I found find myself making full circles in a room even after an adjustment. The map screen is too big and distracts from the game, especially in dungeons.

Skill Points allow you to use magic and skills as your SP bar fills. Theoretically, you should be able to fight at a high action rate, but the SP bar rises too slowly. For example, to use the skill “Staccato” requires 15 SP points. You get one point back every other second. Yes, every other second. Forget it if you die, you lose all points completely. Meanwhile, you are missing out on the battle and may simply run around for a while to get past 2 SP points. Running around and dying is bad for any RPG.

Equipment and items are vital to .hack. Balance is an issue with trading and buying items. Getting good items is limited since only a certain amount of items can be carried for any purpose. You are forced to needlessly sacrifice weapons and items just to stay on top of your game. Even if you had many unique items, you wouldn’t have sufficient amounts to trade or sell for anything good.

I still had a lot of fun trying though. That’s what counts.

Final GamePlay Score: 7/10

Audio

The music becomes unnoticeable as you roam an area but immediately picks up during a battle. Imagine new age music without a beat and add some drum ‘n’ bass quality to it when a battle commences. This will impress many musicians who are looking for refreshing sound and rhythmic technical qualities.

The English dubs were decent but I will be honest and say that I kept switching back to the Japanese dubs. The Japanese voiceover/seiyuu for BlackRose (your female friend with tattooed skin and a very large sword) is phenomenal enough to keep you in the original dubs. Repusu!

Video (Graphics)

Rants:

The worlds are varied and ''infinite'' in number, but they could use some graphical work. Much of the landscape is bland with a few nicely made sculptures here and there. The dungeons are repetitive and lack much detail. They’re simply not impressive, however, during the times when the television screen goes berserk, things get better. i.e. “Data Drain.”

The battle and movie graphics compliment the overall style and do more than make up for the average backgrounds. Using magic won’t distract your attention and the fighting will keep the overall believability high.

Above average is the only term to use for the background graphics, but the world of .hack is believable and natural.

Final Audio/Video Score: 8/10

Replayability

The game will last an average of about 20 hours. You can do much in the first round but might be curious to try .hack Part 1 again. You'll still die a lot.

Buy or Rent?

Rent the game if you’re sick or snowed in from school. You will become addicted and finish it. But buy it in the future if you’re smart. Your progress is made to be used with the rest of the series and is likely worth your interest.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/17/03, Updated 02/18/03


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