Review by MeoTwister5

"Whaddya know..... a GOOD anime-based game!"

Quite frankly I've never really been a fan of games based on anime. Take for example the innumerable amount of Dragon Ball games out there. You probably won't be able to count them all with all your fingers and toes, but how many of them are actually of any good. It may be just my opinion, but generally speaking while they were well accepted, most would agree they don't really capture the spirit of the series they were based on. A number of those games could be called utter crap to say the least, which is why I wasn't expecting much out of .Hack (or dot hack, whatever you want to call it). But I've been in an RPG lull for a while, and needed something to play. I've seen it on the net and read good reviews, and for once I could actually agree with them.

Graphics: 9/10

''Hey, that looks exactly like the one I saw on TV!''

My idiot friend screamed this into my ear when I was playing, earning him a good sock in the face. Well, he was mostly true. The game does look that good, and the characters look nearly like the characters on the series they were based on. Of course, they were made by some famous anime designers. While it may not sport the realistic designs of games like FFX, the game in essence does very well to bring out the virtual world it is on. The characters are at a good resolution, and the dungeons and towns are quite magnificent to look at. However, the game uses a random dungeon creator, bringing with it the common problems like repetitive designs and dungeon graphics, but they don;t detract the game at all.

Gameplay: 9/10

As most people would say, the game sports a combat system similar to Kingdom Hearts and Star Ocean 2. The battles allow you to freely move around while whacking at the enemy in real time, where you can also bring out a menu that pauses the game and allows you to use items, cast magic etc. Also, the game allows you to give commands to you allies, 2 at any given time, for them to use skills, use items etc. While this system allows the most true to the taste of a simulated MMORPG, it does have its flaws.

First off, you only have 1 attack button and a few skills and magic to use in battle, limiting the options you can use. Also, bringing up the menu sort of detracts the authenticity of the game as you tend to pull out the menu every so often, breaking up the fluidity of combat. It was here that I wiched they could have used a quick item and quick ability system like Diablo of Phantasy Star, considering the amount of buttons that have no function in battle. Also, you'll be playing with simulated people playing the same simulated game, and it goes to show with the great use of A.I. They do however do some weird things here and there, but they do good in acting like a real human mind.

Control: 10/10

Basic RPG control outside of combat, and action-RPG like in combat. The controls are very tight and responsive while in combat and show no delay. My only gripe would be that in a battle system that is action oriented, they really could have used all the buttons to do other things like quick items, quick skills, more attacks etc.

Story: 7/10

In any RPG, the story will very well make or break the story. The main overall plot of the game is very impressive and intruiging. You take control of Kite, a newbie player to The World. After seeing you friend get his butt whipped in the game, then getting into a coma in the real world, Kite (no one's really sure of his real world name) decides to find the solution which he believes lies within the game. He also gets the ability Data Drain, one of the causes of his friends condition. With new allies, he goes into the world to search for clues and to put a stop to this and (probably) an even greater plot.

Oh yeah, this game is just part 1 of 4 games. As such, the game itself isn't very whole and conclusive. I haven't finished it yet, but my friends say that the story itself is rather incomplete, with the game focusing more on opening events and character development. That's forgivable, since it hints to an even bigger plot that is sure to excite, but what they did put in the game was almost nothing more than mere fillers to something bigger. I wish they'd put more plot in here.

Audio: 9/10

Quite impressive. No, very impressive. It's almost like they pulled out audio from the series (haven't seen the bonus DVD nor the series yet) and put it in the game. The musical scores are great and may linger in your mind for a while. The sound effects do sound kind of strange sometimes, with probably one of the weirdest sword strike sounds I've heard in a while.

This world is very large, believe me. There are tons of things to do, even after you finish the game. .hack//Infection does excellent in opening a series that promises so much game and greatness. Almost worth the $200 total we'd be having to pay for!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/20/03, Updated 02/20/03

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