Review by Kuja105 Reborn

"Good, But Not Perfect"

If you've been following the .hack Project from SIGN through MUTATION, chances are you've been looking forward to this game for some time. As well you should be, as it's one of the most extensive crossover series ever created.
If your reading this, you've probably already played INFECTION and MUTATION, but for those who are just curious, I'll give a quick overview: On his first day playing the MMORPG, ''The World'', Kite, and his friend Orca, are confronted by a strange creature. After being Data Drained by said creature, Orca falls into a coma in real life, and he's not the first to fall into this condition. Now, Kite and a group of companions are out on a quest to unravel the mystery of ''The World''.
The plot of this game keeps getting better every installment. In my review for MUTATION, I mentioned that it had more storyline in the first twenty minutes than INFECTION had the whole way through. The same holds true for this sequel. The story segments occur more often, are generally more fun to watch, moves the story along much faster, and really makes you feel for the characters.
In this installment, Kite makes two new friends. I won't spoil it for you, but you probably saw one of them coming a mile away. Too much? Sorry. In any case, you'll need to use them, because others will be unavailable for various reasons.
The music and graphics haven't changed, and won't in part four, but that's not really a problem. If you can look past the dated feel, you'll really find some great game play. It too hasn't changed, but is still fun nonetheless.
The fighting system is built to imitate a MMORPG. Characters move freely during battle and attack without waiting for turns, but hit points and magic spells still remain. A new addition to your Data Drain, 2128 Drain, increases the chances of finding rare items when an enemy is Data Drained. However, it does get quite repetitive if you don't try mixing it up.
Side-quests have been added, as well. More Grunty raising and racing for your enjoyment, plenty of optional quests with your characters, and a Phantom Quest that allows you to see the cast of .hack//SIGN in a phantom form.
The new LIMINALITY OVA disk falls a little short in extras, though. In the previous games, they were full of extras in addition to the OVA, but this only has a few promos and SIGN character profiles. The OVA itself is good. It's a little low-key, but it works, and gives you a greater understanding of the story. Once again, it can be watched at any point in the game because it does not spoil the game's plot - it's separate people and events.
The game is a thrill to play if you're a fan of the series, but if you aren't I do recommend renting parts 1 and 2 first. As for the fans, buy it right now, if you haven't already.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/24/03

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