Review by AuronTsubaki85

"When Does Fantasy Begin? And When Does Reality End?"

Forget what Gamespot says about this being a mediocre! The phenomenal .Hack Series comes to the Playstation 2 in the U.S. and I have to say that I am not disappointed at all. Based on the anime series .Hack//Sign, Bandai and CyberConnect2 bring to you the next exciting RPG Series. With the help of the three creative superpowers: Character Designer: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Screenplay Writer: Kazunori Ito (Ghost In The Shell), & Director: Koichi Mashimo (Patlabor) It takes the form of a Massive Multi Online Role-Playing Game only without having an internet connection included with great story and characters to know and love throughout the series. I never played online games before or never because they are addictive. No offense guys. Apart from the game itself, there is a Bonus Anime DVD included in each game with an episode of the OVA Mini-Series: .Hack//Liminality. As it's popularity grew it also spins off in two more anime series (.Hack//Roots & .Hack//Legend Of The Twilight), a trilogy of new games (.Hack//G.U.:Rebirth, Reminisce & Redemption)and a 3-part manga (.Hack//Legend Of The Twilight). Okay, let's get on with the nitty gritty, the review.

You play as Kite, a kid in the 8th grade who is invited by his friend Orca (Yasuhiko in the real world) to play the online game known as "The World" after entering one of the dungeons, they encounter the girl Aura being chased by a monster with a large red wand. After opening their first Gott Statue the background begins to change and Aura reveals herself pleading Orca to take the Book of Twilight, the power that can bring forth salvation or destruction at the whim of the user (kind of like a Lord Of The Rings-esque story don't it?). After he is given the book, the creature known as Skeith appears again, Orca tries what he could to defeat it but no attack or skill would work on it and ends up getting himself Data Drained and ends up in a coma. With no where to go Kite becomes his next target until a mysterious wand comes out of the sky to distract Skeith and Kite is gated out of the area. Not only is Orca in a coma but a few others as well and it is up to Kite and some friends along the way to solve the mystery behind Aura, The Book Of Twilight and restoring the comatose victims after Kite is given The Book Of Twilight it transforms into a bracelet giving the forbidden powers of Data Drain and Gate Hacking which allows you to hack into protected areas that are not functioning or hide a hidden secret.

the gameplay has that hack and slash kind of feeling into it. But nothing new. When receiving emails from the friends you made be sure to be polite and the affection on them will increase. and looking up the message boards will give you some helpful clues to the mystery of "The World". The Infection Rate indicates how many you use the Data Drain skill, relay on that too much and the game is over. It takes 20-30 hours to complete despite of it being the first chapter. after completing it, watch the credits roll and you will be given the option to save a data flag onto your data and receive an email from Bandai saying you will have the opportunity to complete the bonus dungeon. And you will have the opportunity to unlock interesting bonus features which includes Desktop Wallpaper, Music and Movies by doing a certain amount of tasks in Ryu Book I-VIII such as making a certain number of trades, how many people you met, GP in gifts given, number of times you met both Monsieur & Grandpa in the Spring Of Myst, how many hours of gameplay you done, areas visted, portals unlocked, field & dungeon portals you finished, Symbols activated, Grunty Foods & it's varieties you collected, Treasure chests you opened, Boxes, Crates, Caskets, skeleton bodies,etc. you destroyed and the Gott Statues you encountered, & the number of Monsters encountered in the field and dungeons. And in "The World" There are different types of classes: "Twin Blade" "Blademaster" "Wavemaster" "Heavy Blade" & "Heavy Axeman"

The Control System can sometimes be difficult to handle at times, but hey that is me I like challenges and learning these different type of controlling systems, especially in Role-Playing Games. All in all, the control system in .Hack is good to handle once you get the hang of it.

The graphics are as Hellboy would put it "Nice". I mean yes it's true they're mouths don't move during gameplay when they speak but what the hell. The cutscenes are sweet and have alot of detail put in. The dungeons and area backgrounds are good but can be annoying at times throughout the series. My favorite background in the game would have to be the Cathedral in the beginning. Anyways the graphics are great.

Sound & Music:
You get the option in this series to choose the English Audio Track or the Original Japanese Track. A great addition to a US Playstation 2 game. The English Voice Actors such as Mona Marshall (Kite), R.Martin Klien (Harald Hoerwick), Wendee Lee (BlackRose), Sandy Fox (Mistral), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Helba/Emma Wielant), Brianne Siddall (Elk), Steven Jay Blum (Sanjuro Sunarashi), Daran Norris (Piros The Silver White), Kirk Thornton (Orca Of The Azure Sea), Lia Sargent (Aura/Natsume), & Doug Erholtz (Balmung Of The Azure Sky) did a great job of staying along with the storyline of .Hack and the characters they portray. One of the gruntys roaming around in the theta server will sound like Don Knotts also. And the most annoying grunty will have to be the french speaking Noble Grunty, that thing haunts me everytime I hear it. Composer Yuki Kaijura's music is very unique sometimes the Main Phases battle themes don't go too well with their fights so I just play Requiem For A Dream (The Song played in The LOTR: Two Towers Trailer) as it's theme.

Liminality OVA:
This has got to be a great anime to watch if you want to know more about the .Hack universe and "The World's" reason why most of it's players are being comatose. It takes place in the real world. Mai Minase is an high school teen who just awakened from a coma after experiencing the online game for the first time but her boyfriend Tomonari Kasumi didn't and now she is trying to figure out how to revive him from his coma. On her quest for the answer, she meets Junichiro Tokouka, former president of CC Corporation who too is searching for the answer to the victims' of :The World's" comatose. The DVD includes the 45-Minute OVA, interviews with Bandai Producer Daisuke Uchiyama and CyberConnect2's Hiroshi Matsuyama, .Hack//Sign Opening, English & Japanese Audio Tracks, Art Gallery, A Timeline for the development of "The World" & the .Hack Universe.

Rent Or Buy:
Buy It! It is a perfect addition to your Playstation 2 collection. And like I said before, forget what those guys at Gamestop said you will not be disappointed at all. May the stars shine until the end of your journey.

Graphics: 10/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Storyline: 10/10
Sound & Music: 10/10
Liminality DVD: 10/10
Special Features: 10/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 07/24/07

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