Review by Saneasylum89
what a creative, horribly botched idea
I can't speak for everybody, but I found .hack//Sign to be very fun and creative for an Anime series. Aided by the fantastic voice acting, complex plot, detailed characters, and amazing soundtrack, this series hacked into my heart.
The game is another story.
While it offers much more insight to those who were confused at the end of .hack//sign (as I was), there's not a lot more to offer. The gameplay is repetitve and boring, and is more a test of patience than of skill. I often found myself "unable to log out" of this craptastic game due to the sheer fact that playing through even one dungeon demands a half hour or more of your time just to finish one dungeon, and there is little chance to rectify it. This is one game that could have benefited incredibly from an "Auto-Save" feature (not the kind that saves atuomatically, but the kind that lets you save your progress anywhere.
Story: 6 out of 10
The story in this game is unique and forces you to think, and is further fleshed out by the included bonus anime CD called ".hack//liminality" In these discs, we are introduced to characters who are linked in some way to the coma victims, and we are witness to the plans they hatch. the first volume follows Mai Minase, whose boyfriend Tomonari was one of the first to fall comatose while playing the game. The story bleeds through to the game, so there's nothing in the Anime bonus that you haven't seen in the game, and vice versa. The story is dragged down by Godawful voice acting (with about 3 exceptions), uninspired cutscenes, and mobs of useless, irritating, one dimensional characters (Especially Kite, who falls under that "I'm the good guy so I get dragged along on pointless quests with really aggrivating people" anime archetype)
Sound: 9 out of 10
Probably the only thing that is consistently good about anything from .hack is the music. Occasionally you will come across a sub-par dungeon theme, but we can't expect every single track to be a masterpiece. The only thing that really pisses me off is the occasional dungeon with no music.
Graphics: 7 out of 10
Looks pretty good. Nothing to write home about though.
Gameplay: 1 out of 10
There is NO satisfaction to be found in the gameplay AT ALL. It is unbearably bad in countless ways. The attacks are chosen out of a menu, so every time you want to use an attack you have to wade through all the attacks to pick one. the enemies take way to long to kill, you have no semblace of defense so the only real obstacle is to heal yourself, and the enemies never pause in a fight, even for a moment. In that regard, your party is basically set most of the time as you will find you always need a Wavemaster to heal and usually are required to bring Blackrose or another situational character with you anyway. Add to that the fact that the characters all more painfully slowly, and that dungeons are long, tedious, and have weak payoffs, and you have a recipe for disaster. This game is riddled with flaws, like that fact that you have to go to a dungeon every single time with almost no exception to advance the plot. Sometimes sidequests with charcters any sane person would hate are mandatory, and when you finally get to the bottom of the dungeon and kill some boss, your only prize is to converse with that character and have them tell you something menial, trite, useless, or all of the above (Such as their personal preferences, a request to be invited more often, or a "you can depend on me" diatribe)
Final Verdict: Don't even bother. The fact that this game expands 4 volumes is sheer price gouging, becuase there is nothing in this game so complex that one PS2 disc cannot handle. The money and time you waste on these 4 games has very little payoff. There is no fantastic ending to make up for it (I barely understand the ending), there are no bragging rights (as your friends have never heard of this game and will likely think of you as a dork for playing it) and if you really wanted a good .hack game, GU is the best your going to get.
Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
Product Release: .hack//Infection Part 1 (US, 02/10/03)
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