Review by ATMCard
"A Game Begged To Be Enjoyed"
First off I want to say one thing: You must be patient with .hack . If you do indeed be patient, you will be rewarded. This game is the first of a 4-game series based upon an anime series still developing here in the U.S. And by the looks of this game, I can tell the .hack series will be one to treasure.
***MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD***
.hack has one of the most enjoyable and eye-catching stories ever told in a RPG. You play a boy whose friend invites him to play an online RPG named ''The World''. He is really a veteran of the game as his character starts out at lvl 50 and you are at one(No fair!!). He explains the game to you which acts like a tutorial almost in the beginning. During your first trip into a field, he gets destroyed by a ''Data Bug''. These are viruses in the game which are also VERY deadly. After his character dies, you call him up and find out he is in a coma...Could the game have done this? That is the whole base of the story: Trying to find out what happened to your friend while playing the game. Several other people also have developed these conditions and some are in worse conditions than others. A mysterious woman in white almost resembles a little girl, appears to you and gives you this magic bracelet, that destroys the data bug. This is used throughout the game to weaken Data Bugs and make them vulnerable to attack. On your journey, you meet up with several other players in ''The World'' who play big roles in the story. I will leave that for you to find out. This story is just totally awesome and very understandable. The story continues in .hack Parts 2-4.
In .hack you get to run around in search of clues pointing to the main part of the story(see story above).You are playing a MMORPG in a non-online game. The game does a great job executing this, almost perfectly. Your in-game desktop has many things to do including, Mail and News to check, Access to the MMORPG ''The World'', options to save your game, and other various options (audio visual, etc.). To play .hack you must log on to ''The World'', a MMORPG that your friend invites you to play. From the beginning of the game to the near end, this game is a blast. Once you click ''The World'' on your desktop, you are transported to ''The World main screen. Options here are to log on to play and to view the message board. On the message board you can learn various strategies and tips as well as clues and hints on how to progress in the game. Once you log on to ''The World'', you are brought to the main town Mac Anu in the Delta Server. You can access other servers as you progress but I won't spoil it for you. In the town you can save your game, stock up on items and weapons, grab armor, and even store some unwanted items at the Elf's Haven. One big aspect of this town is that you can go to other simulated players and either talk to them or even trade items. You can get some great weapons early on if you explore the dungeons and get rare objects. To actually go out into the playing field, you must head to the ''Chaos Gate'' at the end of town. There, you can access different playing fields by putting in a set of 3 keywords. You can either pick Random, or you can choose your own. An example of a set of keywords is ''Hidden, Forbidden, Holy Ground''. There are numerous ways to get into different fields. Also if you read the message boards and your e-mails, you can get pre made keywords to store in your game. You can then select them at the gate. The levels of the monsters vary from different fields as well as the element type. In the actual fields, there are several places where enemies ''warp in'' and the battle commences. Control is good as well as the easily manuverable camera. There are multiple warp points across the field where monsters appear. You may get lucky and snag a treasure box instead of monsters.
The main story focuses on Dungeons throughout the fields. In the dungeons there are many items and monsters to kill. If you go into the dungeon on your own, chances are there will be no bosses, just great rewards at the deepest part of the dungeon. During the storyline you must travel into specific dungeons in search of clues to what haunts you. At those times there will be bosses. To wrap the gameplay up, it has great variety of things to do that won't get you bored. Excellent gameplay.
In .hack, there are several graphical flaws, none of which are really noticable. The graphics aren't bad at all, neither are they mindblowing. Still the graphic are deemed good as the special effects are done spectacularly and the words are easy to read.
Sound is really good in INFECTION. You have a choice of either Japanese or English voiceovers for the characters. I have only used English and all I can say is that they are very very good. The dialogue isn't hard to understand, neither is it sketchy. In battle, the sounds are pretty good. When you slash a monster, the sound sounds kinda weird but it doesn't contribute poorly. Overall its very polished and praiseable.
Some reviewers actually criticize the control in .hack, but I find it comfortable. You are able to move the camera with L1 and R1 anywhere you want. You can even zoom in on your character. The only flaw is to use special skills in battle. You must go into the menu and select the attack manually. This is the only flaw, but you can get used to it as you progress through the game. Control is looking good...
For me at least, .hack is one of the most captivating RPGs I have ever played. I was hooked onto it for the first 4 hours, then I calmed down. The story, and gameplay really shine in this year's first awesome RPG. And perhaps it is one of the most enjoyable games ever...if you are patient.
A definite must buy for all.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/14/03, Updated 02/14/03
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