.hack//Infection - Review

Such raving wind and water...
By: Solon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 8
   Music & Sound 7
   Originality 10
   Story & Plot 7
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Hard
   Completion Time 15-20 Hours  

Receiving e-mail from other players
Receiving e-mail from other players

   It has finally arrived, the new and for most people unknown series called .hack. This is the first game in the series, called .hack//Infection, and it will be followed up by three others. Not only is .hack a new game, everything about it is new as well. Although being fairly short, it is the most original trip RPGamers will take this year.

   The thing with .hack is that it really is a game in a game. You play a MMORPG called "The World" on your PC. This is a new game that has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, and is said to be very addictive. Your friend tipped you about the game and so you register and begin to play. After a while, strange things start to happen in the game. Bugs, viruses and similar stuff start to invade different areas of "The World". Also, the friend that invited you to the game gets attacked by a never-seen-before enemy that actually hurts him for real, putting him into a coma in the hospital. The player also encounters a strange girl, from which you receive a book that lets you hack the system of "the world". With this book, you can rewrite data from corrupted enemies that usually cannot be killed (a.k.a. killing them instantly). The plot is a total mystery, and while it's a whole series, don't expect to know too much when you're finished with only .hack//Infection.

   Just like the plot, battles are also very special in .hack. First, you need to teleport out of town through the chaos gate, onto a field. When you're in the field, you can encounter enemies. Battles are all in real-time and actually quite hard sometimes. The camera controls are difficult to master, and it's very hard to hit the enemies with them moving around like crazy and your accuracy being very low. There are of course a lot of skills and magic, but don't expect to have a whole arsenal of them when you are about to enter the final boss stage. Skills depends on the weapon you have for the moment, which means that if you change your equip, some skills will be lost while new ones can be used. The good thing about it is that you don't have to wait or level up for ages to acquire new skills, just change the weapons as you receive them.

   As for your other party members, their AI is spectacular. They are of course also other players in "The World", which make them more realistic. In battle you only control your own character (His name is Kite, if you care), and give the other party members different commands, such as "Weaken!", "First Aid!", "Skills!" and so on. In .hack, you'll be a lot in the menus, both in battle and in towns. When you're not playing "the world", you can check your e-mail, read news, change your desktop background, listen to a few songs from "the world" etc. Skills are also used from the menu in battle. All of this is beautiful, and very, very fast. There were almost no loading times anywhere in the game expect in dungeons and when shifting from a field and into the town.

Get me out of this game!
Get me out of this game!

   A game is more than battle and plot though. It has to have good music and cool sounds as well. And a game with bad localization can be very annoying. .hack does have good music, but not always. Most of the themes are calm and nice playing to, while a few (very few) were so annoying I couldn't listen to them. Sound-effects were wonderful, especially in battle. All characters have very realistic sounds, and I didn't find one single character that had a voice I couldn't bear listening to.

   Localization was good as well, especially since you have the ability to change instantly between English and Japanese voice-overs whenever in the game. Also, if you talk to the different players running around in towns you can clearly see the differences between them and their personalities. Some might be shy and not say too much, aside from confessing he or she is a newbie, while others are experienced and ignore you or want to trade stuff with you. I encountered one player who was all silent, only after a while he answered me, saying he had connection problems.

   Graphics look second hand in .hack//Infection. They are okay, but that's about it. Much of the scenery is beautiful, but many dungeons and fields look the same. I like the way they put more effort into the smoothness and speed of the interface, instead of covering the game up with lots of FMV to make it look better.

   What I was a little disappointed in was that .hack was a very short game. I completed it in 18 hours, including doing some of the sidequests. For a title this big, I think it should have been just a little longer. Most of the time was spent leveling up as well, while the final boss (and some of the other bosses) was incredibly dangerous to deal with if you didn't level up first. Aside from the bosses, most parts of the game can be finished on the first try, although you will need to max out on healing potions. Also, almost nothing is told about the plot throughout the game. Instead it stays as the mystery it is when you see the credits roll; I guess I'll have to wait for the upcoming volumes.

Beautiful fields with dangerous enemies
Beautiful fields with dangerous enemies

   Until then, I won't be playing this game at all. It has no replay value at all... which is too bad. Perhaps I don't know everything about it yet, but there doesn't seem to be that many sidequests that are worth looking for expect for some areas with funny stuff that is added when you clear the game. Oh, and another thing. When you finish the game, have patience. You get to save after the credits disappear, so that you can convert your old save to the next .hack game. For me, it's a tradition to stay put until it says "The End" or "To Be Continued...", but it might not be for everyone.

   With this fairly short description of this new game, I don't know If I should recommend it or not. It's original, very original. I have never seen a similar game for any console, and the whole idea with it has been unknown until now. Most of the things seen here has never been seen before in any RPG. Of course there are similarities, but nothing more than that.

   Personally, I liked .hack//Infection, and I certainly do not regret buying it. But if you're one of those conservative players that just has to have a story about some guy taking over the world for some incredibly stupid reason and a hero with a silly attitude that just has to finish it all in the end, don't buy this game because it is certainly not for you. Also, I believe many RPGamers are growing tired of those traditional plotlines about "saving the planet", Wild ARMs-style.

   It's up to you. It's also very hard to judge a game that actually is far from completed. .hack only begins with //Infection.

<- Back
© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy