Review by Dark Shadow X

"Hey, it might just be worth the $200."

''$200? Holy crap! I thought it was only $50?''

Yes, it is only $50...for part 1. There's four parts to this epic saga, so in total, it'll cost about $200. But you don't have to get all four games...However, I strongly recommend against it. Why?

The storyline.

.hack//Infection has the most engrossing story line I've ever seen in a video game. Save the princess? Save the world? Nuh-uh. None of that cliché stuff. This storyline is pure originality. You finally get a copy of the most successful MMORPG ever, known as ''The World''. Your friend offers to show you the basics, and takes you into one of the dungeons. However, down in the dungeon he sees an unknown force that isn't supposed to be down there. He tells you to run, while he fights the monster, and is destroyed easily. You manage to escape, but later you realize that your friend, in real life, is hospitalized with a coma. And so the story begins...

There are just so many plot twists and surprises in this game that it may be worth $50 just to see the story. Oh, yeah, and then there's the game.

Also new to the RPG world is an offline MMORPG. Think PSO, offline, except a whole lot better. The AI bots act like real humans...Little thought bubbles appear above their heads, saying stuff like ''What's up!'' and ''This place is too expensive''. They go to weapon shops, go to item shops, and they act like real players. Random people come into the server, and you can talk to them, trade items with them, and just marvel at how cool they look. But that's one of the game's flaws...For a simulated MMORPG, you don't have much choice of looks. Sure, your weapons change when you equip them...but you don't have choice of race, clothing, hair style, none of that. And it sucks to see 20 other guys go by you who looks 20 times cooler than you do, only to realize that you can't change your class. You're stuck with the same class, meaning you can't equip that Earth Sword you just traded 5 Grunt Dolls for. But hey, this is an RPG, and it's not online, so it doesn't matter too much.

You meet many characters throughout the game, some of which will give you their ''member addresses''. When in town, call upon any of them and form a party of up to 3 (so, two other members). They're not always on, though, just like real people.

But there's more than just playing ''The World''. You can check your mail, go on the message board...which is where you reveal secrets, find challenges, or progress the story.

Inside the world, you can go to randomly designed dungeons by entering keywords. Each keyword changes the dungeon a little bit, making for easy dungeons and hard dungeons alike. You travel with your group until you reach a yellow rotating sphere, which either transforms into monsters (90% of the time) or treasure. It's real-time battles, much like Kingdom Hearts. You can pause the game and bring up a menu that allows you to cast spells or use books of magic or items for yourself or your teammates. It's not as hard as it sounds, and it's quite fun...The only problem is that damned camera. Why? Why is there no lock-on button? Why must I constantly rotate the camera just to find my enemy? WHY!?

...Aside from all of these minor flaws, .hack is a first of its kind, and with the ability to transfer over your saves to the next games, it'll be worth all $200.

Storyline: 10/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound/Music: 10/10
Gameplay: 9/10


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/15/03, Updated 02/15/03

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