I just now finished .hack // Mutation - the second game in the .hack series.
Below may contain spoilers, but if you're at all interested in the game 'series', you might be curious about what I have to say, and it is worth hearing before buying the game. I tried to keep the spoilers as limited as possible. I don't really mention the storyline.
I started with the .hack//sign television series. I haven't seen the last batch of episodes yet, but I quite enjoyed the story of Tsukasa. So I migrated over to checking out the console game.
So I popped in .hack // infection. I had read that the game contained somewhere around 20 hours of gameplay, which is something I was under the understanding was consistant between all four volumes.
I also was under the impression that the game was 'so huge it couldn't fit onto one DVD', which is why it was broken into four parts.
Now, I really do quite enjoy the gameplay -I think that, while not innovative, it's very solid and consistantly enjoyable. And addictive. It's very rpg lite. The idea of making an MMORPG, but taking it offline, is a fascinating little concept. And for the most part it's a lot of fun.
The other characters in the game - some annoying, some cute - all have their own personalities which makes it neat. The ability to develop relationships with the 'player behind the character' as it were (which is really weird to say since it's all AI) is a neat idea, but is nowhere near fully realized. You essentially get two 'paths' through the friendship scripts with the characters you group with the most often.
The combat can get a little hairy, and challenging at times - the times that it's most challenging isn't the boss battles, however (which are rather easy and come down to 'do I have enough healing potions and resurrect potions to outlast the boss') the most challenging ones are the random encounters. Getting trapped in a room in the dungeon with four critters, each of which do 1/4 of your HPs in damage, then dying and you're hoping that your partner might be able to rez you in time - that's pretty cool, and fun. It's just sad that this is more challenging than the end boss of mutation - who I whooped my first time through. Whooped him hard.
And the way the story migrates - the mail system and the board (and the 'real world news - which never does anything for the story in the first two parts, really...) is rather neat. You have to log out of the world to get your mail, then log back in and go to the places where you're told to go. No, it's not challenging. But it's fun.
But now that I've spoken about the good stuff, the few problems.
First things first - the game is short. When you import the game from volume 1 into volume 2 (nice feature, that) the game timer also gets imported. Now, I don't know what a good time should be for this game, but I'm fairly sure that my 24 hour 25 minute completion time of both part 1 and part 2 is a little on the short time. (I completed Part 1 in just over 13 hours, part 2 in just under 12) That's really short. When I finished Mutation, and the credits started rolling, I was pissed. That's it?
The shortness wouldn't be so bad. Except that the story barely freaking evolves in part two. In part one, the story was slow, but it was introducing you to characters. In part two, I was introduced to a couple more new characters (in nice little forced sidequests) who I never grouped with (I'm pretty dedicated to using Mistral as my wavemaster and Blackrose as my fighter, since you have to use her in just about every other mission anyways). The ability to pick and choose who I group with is nice, but rather unnecessary.
The other thing - why couldn't this be on one disc instead of four? Every zone from the first game is on the second disc. Same with the videos. I'm pretty convinced that this could have been a one or maybe in the worst case scenario a two disc set.
Sad thing is, despite the fact that the games are so short, I'll probably still pick up the last two. :roll: I'm into the storyline, such as it is, and the dvds that come with the game add a LOT of needed value. The $20USd price tag on the games isn't bad either for the amount of gameplay time I get. Wouldn't dare pay more for them.
I think the bottom line for these games, if you're still curious by what I said and not turned off by the length - if you're at all interested in MMORPGs - or ever had an unhealthy addiction to everquest - like anime - and think the idea of playing an adventure game with a definate mmorpg feel is neat, give .hack a try - you'll probably enjoy it.