Review by delateur

"3rd of the series, downward spiral"

Well, I keep playing the .hack series, expecting some breakthrough in the plot, but that doesn't seem to be happening. RPG lovers are a finicky lot. They demand (typically) first and foremost a decent plot, steeped in deep character development. Unfortunately, these are two of .hack's weakest areas, and the other weaknesses of this game make it only a passing distraction until a ''real'' RPG like FF X-2 hits the shelves... You may want to rent this one, but there's no way it's worth $50, trust me! Read on for more details...

Graphics 7/10: The graphics are passable. You won't be ''ooh'ing and aah'ing'' over them, but they won't make you feel like you're playing a PS1 game, either. The special effects like static and such that show the effects of the virus on the system are a nice touch, but nothing fantastic.

Sound: 7/10: I actually really enjoy the music in this game, but the localization of the voices could have done with some serious help. There were at least a dozen translations that were done poorly, and since the cutscenes are minimal, a dozen is a good portion of the overall localization.

Plot: 5/10: The plot relies heavily on other media to fully fill you in on what's happening. While in concept it's a neat idea, in practice, most of us, when we get an RPG, even a four part one, want the story to carry itself sufficiently to get us wrapped up in the plight of the characters. Only in the third part are we starting to gain any measure of depth from the primary characters who are involved in the majority of the plot cutscenes (besides Kite, of course, the protagonist, but even his story and development is less than compelling, even in the third installment). I should add that the game only took me about 15 hours to complete, going through it as fast as possible, but doing all the ''scripted'' dungeons that opened up.

Gameplay 7/10: It's basically a button masher, with the ability to subtly direct your two other party members. However, the party's AI is pretty weak, at best. If you want to be prepared for any scenario, you're going to need a Wavemaster (magician) at all times, and in this installment, the one you're used to using (who's pretty cute sounding) isn't available at all. Neither is the main alternative you're used to using, if you're like me (Mistral and Elk, if you hadn't guessed). You do get to try Balmung out, but he's nothing special, although his gear he starts out with is pretty decent, so he enters your party ready to hold his own. I'll also comment on the mini-games. The Grunty raising never appealed to me, but I did like having one to ride so I could zip through the land area to the dungeon without encounters, when desired. As most reviewers will tell you, though, the gameplay gets VERY repetitive. The Goblin chases also got very frustrating quickly.

Final Word: Rent this one, it's certainly not a keeper, even with the bonus DVD //Liminality series. The series is good, but nothing spectacular.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 09/29/03

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