Review by sirquacksalot

".hack.... the perfect name, for the imperfect game"

.hack is the first installment of four from Bandi. Its based off of an anime series. This should have been my first clue that it wasn't my type of game. Its a radical new idea, and if they'd even put ten minutes into stopping and thinking 'what do the GAMERS want' instead of 'How can we screw the people for lots of money while doing very little work', it might have been okay.

Gameplay (3/10): The game can be finished in anywhere from 8-20 hours. This made me wonder 'Why, praytell, would anyone pay about 59.99... four times.. for a gameplay experience that totals 80 hours?' They could have easily crammed it into two disks. I was not amused. In fact, so not amused, I didn't bother buying any of the later three.

Simply put, there is about an hours worth of gameplay... repeated ad nasuem to the point where I resorted to trying to solve complex mathmatical calculations in my head while playing the game, just to keep my eyes open and on the screen. After awhile, it just became instinct, and there was no actual thought required for the actions in the game. If I enjoyed that, I'd have just asked my boss at work if I could work some free overtime for him...

You goto your desktop, read several pages of useless 'news' and emails, message boards, and the like, log onto the game, and proceed to spend almost an hour in town, bartering with people to get decent equipment before bravely setting off to a dungeon.... where you hack and slash until its cleared, and then repeat... and repeat...

The only way to get to dungeons is through randomly selecting three names, similar to the randomly generated names for U.S. Military projects. You wind up with names like 'Delta Blindside Hurting Kitchen'. The voiceovers when they say these things in the most serious voice ever 'Quickly, you must goto 'Delta Thinker Voice Starscape' just made me laugh. I couldn't take it seriously.

The battle system was just cruel and unusual. This is the nightmare of battle systems. Its realtime, but the camera is self-controled. Many's the time when you find yourself slamming that X button over and over, and swivling the camera like crazy to find where that damned enemy IS, only to loose track of yourself in the muddle and wind up dead.

The realtime battle system is one favored by some, and it CAN be done well. This system was not. There is no skill involved. You see enemy. Hit X button repeatedly. See other enemy. Hit X again. Repeat as needed. There is no way to combine moves (of which there is one), and your cohorts AI is appauling. If they aren't seven levels higher than the moster their fighting, they're dead before they even wade into the fight, or if they survive, act like whiney children going 'owww... heal me _____.... please heal meeeeeeeeeee'. Show me someone that does that in a real MMORPG, and I will do more than heal them. I'll put an arrow, bullet, or other projectile between their characters eyes and 'heal' all their problems for good.

That brings me to another point. This 'World' supposedly has over 20 million subscribers... why, then, do I ever only see about 20 to 30? They're inane conversations are similar to what you'd hear in a real MMORPG, but really, I HATE listening to real people whine about their lives in MMORPGS to begin with, I don't need to hear it from the computerized character now too.

Story(4/10): The main problems in the story are evident within the first ten to fifteen minutes. At first, theres a steady influx of plot-forwarding events, which kind of sweep you along. I enjoyed that. My problem was... I was so very quickly confused about just what was happening. Somehow, this guy is put into a coma, and your characters online character has to solve the mystery. Great.... but.. what IS the deal with that damned bracelet, and who are all these weird people that keep joining you! Your e-mail corespondence with them sheds little light on their actual pasts, besides one being a highschool tennis champ. Mondo useful knowing that, eh?

The gameplay has so little to do with the story, that you often find yourself wondering 'Why am I doing this?' not only in the game sense, but also as in 'Why am I still playing this damned game?'.

Graphics(4/10): Put frankly, this game looks like something from the bygone era of PSX games. All the dungeons look exactly the same, and your character, when in the heat of battle (IF you can get the camera where you want it) simply looks like a blob of color within other, bigger, more pissed off blobs of color. I've seen the capabilities of the PS2 graphics (FFX, Baldurs Gate: DA, and others for example). This is just substandard all the way.

Sound(6/10): The voiceovers are horrendous. The ONLY way I could stand it was to listen to it in japaneese with subtitles in english (I suppose i could have muted it and put on some tunes as well). Its clear that the actors realized how bad the game was and didnt bother putting much effort into their parts. Can't blame them. The music is repetative... but, somehow, just narrowly avoids being constantly annoying. Overall, it didn't piss me off, and they had the japaneese voices in there, so it gets a passing score.

Replayability(1/10): I commend anyone who manages to actually FINISH the game once. I barely managed it myself. Luckily, I bought it used, so I didn't waste too much money. This is one of those games thats going to sit on my wall of shame until such time that I feel the urge to go upto the store and use it as collateral to get a new one. Its very unlikely that anyone would play it once, only to turn around and subject themselves to it ever again.

Rent/Buy: Rent. If you, for whatever reason, (perhaps your obsessive compulsive and HAVE to beat all those dungeons) really like it, buy it by all means. I myself, am glad I didn't spend more than 20 dollars on it.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 03/29/04

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