Some information is surfacing about Bandai's .hack://Infection, the first of four volumes in the series, just as news concerning the third entry in the series, .hack://Erosion Pollution, also comes to light. The first chapter, set to release in North America in February, will launch simultaneously with the animated series. Of interest will be the protagonist's name; players assume the role of Kite, an outlaw player of the game's MMORPG "The World". Kite's mission is to uncover the truth about The World's origin, a premise that sounds eerily similar to Tad Williams' Otherland novels. Kite will make his way into the farthest reaches of the virtual world, taking out foes in cyberspace's polluted depths, as he ventures through the online world by gaining various codes allowing him to gain access to new areas.
The shadow MMORPG experience will apparently be very immersive. Players will be able to interact with characters in the game much like a conversation in a real-world MMORPG; in fact, as the game uses a voice-over that will allow things to be vocalized in either Japanese or English. This is made possible through the game's use of preset phrases, which suggests the conversation won't be quite as open-ended as regular MMORPG chatter, probably a good thing in terms of both space and quality of gameplay.
In North America, the first episode is set for release in February, but in Japan, the third episode is rapidly approaching. Some story details are thus coming to light already. In the third volume, events have progressed to the point where a friend of Kite, in another strange Otherland parallel, has fallen ill due to exposure to The World, and has been rendered comatose.
The third volume is set to release on December 12 in Japan, although North American gamers will not get the chance to experience it until August. For more .hack information, check out RPGamer's coverage.