Review by OmniTerra

"The third part of the .hack story.. is it worth it?"

The answer: Depends. If you're a fan of .hack that's played Mutation and Infection (the first and second parts), then definitely yes. If you're picking out a random game, no. Many have complained about how short the first two were, well Outbreak is definitely longer.

For the new to .hack, the game's basic story revolves around Kite, a player of an online MMORPG known as ''The World'', whose best friend, Orca has fallen into a coma playing the game. Kite meets many allies and sets out to find what it is lurking inside ''The World'' that put Orca- and many other victims- into comas.

The truth is, if you've seen Mutation or Infection, you've seen Outbreak. The graphics are exactly the same, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. .hack//Outbreak is no Final Fantasy X, but the graphics are definitely above par. The character models are smooth and detailed, while the backgrounds are varying in quality. The dungeons can grow very repetitive after playing for a while, but are surprisingly detailed.

While in an ''infected'' area, suddenly, the screen might flicker with static. Don't smash in your T.V. (too hard), this is supposed to happen. Seeing as how it simulates playing a computer game, it all adds to the feeling that you really are playing ''The World''.

The story is definitely where Outbreak goes above and beyond. As mentioned before, it revolves around Kite, whose best friend has fallen into a coma while playing ''The World''. While seeking out to find the cause of the coma victims' state, Kite meets many friends- and enemies. The story seemed to move slowly in Mutation, but in Outbreak, the storyline advances much quicker.

The game's sound effects are really nothing great, but nothing horrible either. The characters' voices all fit pretty well and aren't TOO annoying, except Mistral, but you won't hear her mouse-like voice as much as in the original two. In battle, you will hear your party members' voices when they perform an attack or spell. The music, however, is very catchy, especially in the boss battles. A nice feature in the .hack games is that you can unlock FMVs and music in the game and listen to them.

The gameplay gets repetitive real fast. Run up to enemy, attack, attack, attack, heal, attack, attack, spell. Your party members are controlled by AI, the problem is, you have to hold their hand. If you command them to use magic, they'll cast two spells and then attack again, which is a REAL PAIN against monsters resistant to physical attacks.

Tell your party members to heal? They seem to think that healing themselves is more important than resurrecting downed party members. GAME OVER. Nothing is more frustrating than when only one team member is left and no matter how much you tell them to heal, they keep attacking and die.

Rent or Buy?
Tough decision. I say buy if you're a fan that is willing to shell out $50 for it, but rent if you haven't played any of the games before.

Closing Statements
All in all, Outbreak is a very fun game that can keep you playing for hours on end, and then hours wishing you could kill the AI. All in all, I give .hack//Outbreak a 9 out of 10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/22/03

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