Review by delateur
"Not a bad beginning, but room for improvement."
Well, for those of you who really dislike seeing a 9/10 or 10/10 rating for a game that is not perfect, keep on reading. While .hack Part1:Infection is a good start, it's by no means an RPG that can stand alone as one of the greatest RPGs to hit the PS2.
I'll have to say it.. the story is weak. Now if you are one of those types that follows ALL the media available for .hack, then those other elements combined with the PS2 game could probably bump this aspect up to a 9 or a 10. Since I am NOT one of those types, and am basing it on what I received when I bought the game, I'll say that what little story you DO get is was not enough to grab me. All in all, it felt like 80% dungeon crawl, and about 20% story, which is not very well balanced, in my opinion.
The voices are good, really. That makes the amount of plot you DO get at least enjoyable. :D Each character has his or her own definitive personality, and while some of those might grate on you, that's sort of the point! The voices along with the varying fighting styles (although each of the classes is basically identical with identical gear, so if you find a personality you like in a certain class, you'll more than likely find yourself using that character whenever you are given the option - at times certain characters are simply unavailable, or part of the storyline insists you use a certain character on a given field).
I consider the graphics to be solid. There is definitely worse out there. The framerate drops noticeably in cities where a ton of people are all running around at the same time, which is deducts a bit from the score, but not enough to drop it a full point. The weapons change, but for those of us who have played online games, we know full well that the CLOTHING must change, also. That doesn't happen, so boo to the developers for not making the experience that much more immersive.
The sound is well done, for the most part. A few tunes are grating, but they are by far the exception. I would have scored the sound an 8, but I found the sounds actually broke up/crackled on my system, and I use an optical connection to a high end entertainment system, so I really felt that was some poor sampling. This was true of the sound effects, not the background music, which in all cases was of good quality.
The game is easy. I didn't find myself breaking much of a sweat in the ''plot'' fields because I took the time early on to do a couple of random fields and dungeons. The bosses were ALL simple until the very end, where I used more items in that one battle than the entire rest of the game combined. I was level 31. There's fair warning for you. :) Everyone levels up equally, once you have the ability to group with them, so you never have to take any particular member out with you to keep them on par with you or your ''main'' group. The game is basically a dungeon crawler, as I said before, with one mini-game - raising Grumpys (a pig-like animal) using different foods you find in the fields and dungeons. The other ''sidequest'' is using your bracelet enough to gain access to various books that record your game statistics and open up new items (background music, wallpaper, in-game movies). Even going through without paying much attention to these things, I easily maxxed out most of the categories for all eight books in about 26 hours. Had I been playing to simply finish the game, it could have been done in about 15-20. Oh, I almost forgot, there's a goblin tag game, as well, but once I finished that, I didn't really feel as though it was worth it, even though it was fun to see what the items you get from each part do when combined fully.
I don't care for dungeon crawlers, and don't really think most RPGs are that replayable anyway. Much like reading a book, once you read it, you probably won't pick it up and start reading again. The only incentive is the side items you might have missed, and while you might want to go hunting for those just so you're ''ready'' for Part 2, you might not want to worry about it.
Buy or Rent?:
I'd say rent this one. It's not worth owning, unless you're a huge fan and are collecting ALL the .hack media. As a stand-alone RPG, you'll easily finish it in one rental, and if you want to get everything, one more rental would net you all of the sidequest items, with or without a walkthrough.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/14/03, Updated 02/14/03
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