Review by OrdogToxin

"The End, And they all lived...exactly the same as the last three..."

Well, it's been almost a year since Bandai's grand experiment began, and now that we've reached the finale, was all the effort worth it?
If you haven't been playing the series up to this point, it is suggested that you either A) go and get part one or B) don't get this game, as there is nearly no help to get you leveled up and caught up to the now. But you wouldn't want to try anyways, as you would've missed out on a lot of valuable story elements. However, for all my veterans out there, you won't be disappointed (or surprised for that matter) by this game. It's still the same hack-and-slash dungeon-crawler that all of us have come accustomed to, however, as with the others, this remains a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that there is nothing holding you back if you've enjoyed the past games as this remains more of the same essential quality. However, the curse lies in the lack of innovation from any of the others, and that if you were looking for a classic RPG overall, you will be summarily disappointed, as truly, you're playing the same game Infection was. For people who have braved the series this long though, you shouldn't be saddened, as the great thing about it as a four-part series is that it has retained continuity in all forms.
Since this is a series, there is nothing I can say about the story that doesn't fall under the spoilers category. What I can say is that the story is still rich and compelling, retaining all the beauty that it has been, worthy among the great halls of the finest RPG plotlines.
Though people complain about both ends of the voice-acting spectrum, I found that, on the whole, the VAs did their job and did it well, as their voices drew little, if any, from the storyline. The soundtrack remains as twisted and haunted as it always has, sending chills through your spine as you traverse ''The World'', and though it still retains an all-too-subtle charm, the music's unobtrusiveness is just another to get under your skin, and into your soul.
As usual they remain all too underwhelming and underappreciated. I love them for the feel it gives them, and even though the type of it has been done before, .hack somehow made it feel like its own. However, it does retain a look that doesn't exactly awe-inspire like its long separated cousins, Final Fantasy and Xeno have, but what it has gets the message across, and that has been what's counted throughout the series.
The DVD:
Personally, for me the DVD has always been half of what you pay for the game, and it continues to amaze me at its quality, and as it too draws to a close, I am just as saddened by its loss as I am the game's own story.
Well, if you've gone this far, you really won't care what I say, but truly, due to a varying length among all four games, you should have figured out by now how you're going to get your hands on this one, however, I should point out that if you're new or just want to wait, then do so. Part one is $20, and 2&3 are $30, and as you can well imagine, this one will likely follow suit in a few months.
I'm sad to see it go, as the final cough of dust echoes from my wallet, I wonder, in the end, was it all worth it? The answer is a resounding...DEPENDS, if this game's plot didn't reach you like it did me, or the gameplay just didn't tug the right heartstrings, or the DVD not make you shell out for twice its worth, then NO. However, if you fell into one of those three categories, and the series didn't cost you a few more pretty pennies then you may have liked, then YES, truly it was good. However, I still remain annoyed at Bandai stretching this out over four games.
Why 7?
Not all games are tens, but after my high-praise, why not at least a nine? To be quite honest, this game has a lot of story power, and if you dig the hack-and-slash, that has got its own effect, but it still felt like more could've been done to make it truly great, as there could've been better graphics, an ever-growing combat system, and more length to make it a maturing series, but it has chosen to remain the same, and though this has worked, it has truly been the best effect on the fans of the series and not your average John Doe Gamer. This is not for everyone, but it is hard to say who it is for without experiencing it for yourself. Take a leap of faith or don't, the series shall remain for everyone to enjoy.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/23/04

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