Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation 2
Credits: 2001-2003 Bandai, Project Hack, CyberConnect2. Screenshots courtesy of Amazon.Com
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You are Kite, a newbie who starts playing the bestselling game The World. You enter a portal that brings you to different worlds-from grasslands, to deserts, to volcanic plains. Sometime during your exploration, however, you discover a glitch in the system that puts a friend in danger and your existence at stake. You investigate to get to the bottom of the mystery and new friends come along to help you in your quest. Time is of the essence, because you come to the realization that The World is not just an ordinary game. It is something else. And that something else is affecting the real lives of its players.
A Welcome Innovation >>> by skysenshi
.hack//infection is a welcome innovation in the realm of RPG. With so many things to do in such a short span of time, one can't help but get addicted. Let's start with the basics first.
While not exactly Final Fantasy X material in terms of graphics, .hack//infection looks pretty good. I actually expected it to be an anime look-alike, seeing as this game goes hand-in-hand with its various anime incarnates, but the developers opted to use 3D CG characters and scenarios. The sounds are decent, not really groundbreaking, but it's pretty much above average. The best part of the audiovisual options is that you can change your settings, whether you want English with English subtitles or Japanese with English subtitles etc., anytime during your play.
.hack//infection makes use of active time controls. Those who are used to turn-based RPGs might have to sharpen their reflexes, as there are a lot of menus to flip. You also control your party members' menus so you switch between theirs and yours while you try to hack away at enemies and bosses. The battle system is similar to, but a little more complex than, Star Ocean.
You have skills, which can be used depending on what weapon or armor you're wearing. The same case applies to your companions. You just have to toggle between using First Aid or Skills in battle so you can assure your party's survival.
This is what makes .hack//infection quite different from your usual RPG. You are actually online . Your default view is your desktop computer, with icons lined up on the left side. You can check your email, read the news, change your desktop view/wallpaper, play music and movies, and save your data. You can also play The World, the popular online game that takes you to different adventures.
In the World, you can participate in message boards (BBS) and visit different servers to develop your character. When you want to go on an adventure, you just need to input a few keywords to activate worlds-there seem to be an infinite number of them, so you won't get bored easily. You can level up without dying of ennui because you don't have to sit in one place while developing your characters. With so many dungeons and fields to explore, you won't run out of new items to pick-up and new enemies to add to your list.
You don't gain money from battles. You just gain experience points (EXP). You advance in level for every 1,000 EXP you gain. To earn money, all you have to do is sell equipment or items that you don't feel you need. You just go world hopping if you feel like you don't have enough or trade with other players for items they might need. Don't sell everything, though, because some of your party members might need new equipment to upgrade their skills. In this case, you give these items to your friends as gifts.
- Grunty Raising - Grunties are cute beasties that resemble overgrown pigs. You can raise them yourself. They make good trading partners, depending on how you raise them. Of course, there was this time I first raised a.well, it was a gay grunty screaming, "Amore!" and "Oh, André!" It was amusing, to say the least.
- Field and Dungeon Exploration - Never boring. In fact, the items and chests "reload" when you log out and log back on.
- Skill Points - Similar to MP in most RPGs. Your magic and skills are dependent on this gauge. Why is it noteworthy? Well, the SP gauge replenishes itself so you don't have to use SP items unless you are in a battle and need fast relief.
- Ryu Books - Special Key Items that lets you add more extras for your desktop.
- Data Transfer - Liked the first .hack installment? Well, make sure you finish it till the end credits because it will make your data transferable to the next .hack. Another feature that's nice about .hack is that you can still play around with your desktop, especially your email, and go into sub quests even after you've officially finished it.
So, is there any gripe I could name for .hack//infection? Well, there's one. There are no save points inside dungeons. I felt the need for them in particularly difficult boss battles because I didn't want to go through long and winding dungeon paths all over again. But this is just a minor complaint. The game's already too easy enough as it is, especially with the self-regenerating SP and items. What's one minor difficulty, ne?
If you're looking for an addictive game to add into your list of favorites, give this one a try. I assure you, it's far more involving than a lot of newer PS2 games around.
DIFFICULTY: Easy - Moderate
COMPLETION TIME: 20-30 hours
HIGHEST LEVEL ACHIEVED: 34
RATINGS: Gameplay 10; Battle 10; Story 9; Visuals 8; Characters 9; Sounds 8; Replay Value 9