Review by mrgrfx

"Why .hack is Worth the money"

Undoubtedly by now you've read all the reviews online and also read the somewhat average scores. You're likely coming here to make your final decision. Let me help you.

Story 8/10
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Synopsis: Something is going hay wire in the game ''The World'' and one of your character's best friends is in Coma now. You investigate this along with the mysteries of your bracelet and that mysterious girl name Aura.

Being part one (more like episode 1), the story hints at much grander things. From the hero Balmug or the ''hacker'' Helba, there's something going on, but it'll take a bit more working to find out, since you're a newbie.

All told you'll have 45 minutes of anime to watch that explains what's happening on the outside while you're playing on the inside. You'll have the option of reading news, message boards, and emails. There are some side quests and plenty of room to level up and collect rare weapons.

Gameplay 8/10
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The game is reminiscent of PSO, so much so, they are nearly identical except for that online thing. What .hack lacks in story elements it makes up for in story and characters. For example, Mistral one of the early characters you meet has somewhat a ditsy personality. She was so well scripted, that when I gave her a high level armor, she came back after we went to town and told me she traded ''that item I gave her'' for this and it turned out to be a regular potion item. There are other little tidbits throughout that make playing with CPU characters much more fun than some jerk online.

If there is any gripe that I have with the gameplay it has to be with the horrid menu system. Instead of asigning potions and spells to keys, you'll have to open up a menu and use them. This does often save you from near death, but it's quite annoying.

Sound 9/10
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While not quite what you'd expect from a final Fantasy game, the soundtrack definitely ranks up there with some of the best. A times, it sounds alot like the great music from Chrono Cross at other times it's a bit more bland.

Finally Bandai did something right. You'll have the option of listening to the subperb english cast or the equally great japanese voice actors. What's even better, you can fast forward much of the dialogue if you don't want to listen. There are great voices on both sides of the track, the only thing lacking is an option to pick certain characters for Japanese track and the others for English.

Graphics 9/10
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From facial expressions to highly colorful environments and characters. The graphics are so good, you'll have fun just looking at the characters. The only single knock you give this category of this game, is in some of the environments, the floors and walls seem to be lacking something.

Value 10/10
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If you play straight through and finish in under twenty hours, you have done the bare minimum it would take to see all the story elements as well as get all the characters. You will not have leveled these characters up, nor seen much of their personality. If you have read the FAQs, chances are good that you have raised your grunties, but that's it. Still a 20 hour game is a great value for just 50 bucks on it's own (especially now a days).

That's not it. You'll get 45 minutes of Anime. Sure they could have weaved this into the game but they didn't and it hurt them in the reviews. No other game in history has had 45 minutes of FMV or cutscenes to watch. Unless you count Real Time as a cutscene.

You could even break it down like this 45 minutes of anime is equal at rock bottom wholesale prices at 10$, so in essence you're paying 39$ for the game and 10$ for the anime. What a steal.

OVERALL 9/10
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There are certainly places that .hack can improve, but overall I think it hasn't had it's fair shake. For just $50 you'll get a series that has an entire season of TV to provide back story, 45 minutes of anime to replace the in game FMV we've come so accustomed to, and about 25 hours of seriously fun and intriguing gameplay. Heck the game looks great and sounds great too. If you love games and/or anime this one's a simple no brainer.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/24/03, Updated 02/24/03


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