.hack//G.U. vol.2// Reminisce Review

The sci-fi action RPG franchise, .hack (pronounced "dot hack"), broke with its own tradition by offering the first standalone version of the series last November — .hack/G.U. vol.1/Rebirth. This game, unlike the others preceding it, wasn’t directly connected to the rather long storyline of the previous titles. A new comer could play this version of the game and pickup on the background and characters of the .hack universe with a minimum of hassle.

Now, only a scant six months later, .hack/G.U.vol.2/Reminisce is upon us to fill the number two position of a scheduled three part series. We’ll go back into "The World" (the game’s fictional MMO title) to see if it’s just a hack or a game that you’d rather not reminisce about.

Here’s a little background on the .hack game scenario. The premise is that a MMO, The World, has become the most popular online game throughout the planet. But some sinister elements surface when online characters suddenly die – and their real life counterparts perish as well. PK’ers, or player killers, roam the virtual landscape and kill other gamers just for the sport of it. .hack/G.U. vol.2/Reminisce continues this saga but this time with the real world players trapped inside the virtual game.

The storyline, as it was in the first volume, is the main attraction here. There are tons of cutscene segments all throughout the game and these provide a good deal of character and plot development. Gameplay varies little with vol.1 and is based upon the common aspects that all standard RPG titles have: frequent battles, the ability to level up your character’s strength and attributes, the use of special attacks and weapons, the ability to travel and warp to different areas, and lots of dialogue between the characters. The second installment of this game makes a good transition from the previous title. If you lucky people who finished vol. 1, you’ll be able to transfer your saved data to vol. 2.

For those of you who didn’t play vol.1, there is a long animation which tries to bring you up to speed on the plot and where the game is going. The scenes are done quite well, but you’ll probably need to lookup the vol. 1 storyline on a FAQ site to really get familiar with all the nuances and interaction and dynamics between the characters. The concept is a little like the Matrix in which the characters in the real world cross over into the virtual world. In .hack vol. 1 and vol. 2, the developers take this idea and have you playing a MMO game within the actual game itself. If this sounds a little confusing, now you know why you need to brush up on the .hack universe.

But aside from the odd plot, gameplay can be quickly learned as you get familiar with the mechanics of how you team up with fellow gamers, use weapons, and warp to other locations by acquiring "area words." If you’ve done any amount of programming, you’ll immediately recognize the familiarity of entering passwords or keywords to open up areas and sections of code — except in the case of the .hack world, they’ll open up areas to different game locations to explore. In your adventures, you can visit the Arena where you can challenge other players to battles. If you come up on top, you’ll be crowned with the title of Holy Palace Emperor which gives you the right to fight more battles.

The battle system is in the style of classic RPGs with the ability to use weapons, items and special skill attacks. In addition to your regular attacks, you have several special attacks at your disposal.. As you battle, you can invoke the "skill trigger" command. This essentially allows you to select one of four skill attacks that are available. When starting out in the game, you’ll only be able to use one, but as you advance in the game, more will become accessible. Time is essential in performing these moves because the special skills screen appears for only a moment. If you take a little too long to decide, goodbye trigger attack and goodbye to a lot of your experience points as the enemy pounds you to the ground because of your indecision.

The next level up in using special skills is something called the Rengeki attack. As you amass combo hits on the enemy, you’ll eventually reach a threshold point called Rengeki. During this time, you can unleash a wave of super moves on your opponents. Other aspects of the game let you bring up the Awakening mode. They come in the form of Beast Awakening, Demon Awakening, and Divine Awakening. Each specific mode gives you extra strength, the ability to attack using magic, or bring down huge attack damage against the all of your enemies.

It felt good to be in The World again, although, according to the story, it is actually the second version of the MMO game — the first one was destroyed. The concept of playing a game that is mimicking you playing another game is a concept that is the stuff of science fiction and some nice story twists.

As far as the presentation of .hack/vol.2, graphics differ little from .hack vol. 1, which is to say, the artwork, environment and special effects are good. The menu system can be a little daunting to new comers, but as it is with other RPGs, you learn your way around by putting in lots of hours of game time. I really enjoyed the cut scenes not only because of the nice storyline, but the animations really draw you into the game. Voice acting is good and goes the way of the anime shows.

.hack/G.U.vol.2/ Reminisce is a nice revisit to the world of .hack. For those who haven’t played the franchise before, the game provides a good deal of catch-up material in the beginning of the game to put everything in perspective. But it still would be a good idea for new comers to do a little research on the plot leading up to vol. 2 to really get the flavor of the series and what transpired beforehand. Since this game is almost a verbatim continuance of vol. 1 in gameplay, some maybe disappointed in the lack of enough new features. But this depends on how much you liked or disliked .hack vol. 1. But as an action RPG game, .hack vol. 2 holds its own very well and should be an enjoyable experience for those familiar and not so familiar with the franchise.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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