Bandai has tweaked the release dates of the various volumes of its upcoming thriller RPG .hack, and while the first of these changes might be frustrating to some gamers who have waited patiently for more than a year, the release schedule should come as a welcome surprise thereafter. .hack://Infection, the first volume, has been pushed back from October 2002 to February 2003, which is a fairly considerable delay. Thereafter, however, each successive volume will be released on a tri-monthly basis. .hack://Mutation will be released in May 2003, and the as-yet unnamed third and fourth volumes will be released in August and November, respectively.
When prompted for the reasons behind the setback, Bandai indicated it wishes to co-ordinate the release of the game with the release of a cartoon series based on the same world. ".hack isn't just a PlayStation 2 game or anime movie or animated series," a company representative explained, "It's a world unto itself. .hack has been nearly 4 years in the making, and we want to release it with as much gusto as it deserves."
.hack takes players into a not-too-distant future in which an MMORPG known as "The World" has become integral to society. When things start to go wrong with this simulation, it is up to players to set things right, or risk chaos and worse enveloping the world. All four volumes will be released for the PlayStation 2.