.hack//G.U. VOL. 3: Redemption - PS2 - Preview
Influenced by the fictitious world, virtual and physical realities are merged in a saga known as .hack. .hack//G.U., the second series to come from the concept of a single-player MMO that’s played entirely offline, has been more mature than the first. Darker environments, ruthless villains, and more graphic anime and CG sequences made the series more appealing to the crowd of gamers that began their RPG obsession with the first PlayStation. Noticing that trilogies often conclude with the darkest chapter, .hack//G.U. Vol. 3: Redemption will close with the series’ most grim developments.
Start. Watch. Anticipate.
Volume 3 begins with two videos for your viewing pleasure: an episode of .hack//Roots and a lengthy intro with gorgeous CG and real-time footage. The episode (labeled “number 2,” but it doesn’t specify from which season) is merely a taunt to those who have not kept up with the anime. It starts out slow, builds to something exciting and, hoping you’ll tune in next time, jumps right to the credits! I was tempted to drop everything and search for the next episode online, but that urge was overturned by the game, which had an exciting premise of its own to unearth.
Beyond the basic story info that was previously released, it’s best that you know as little as possible about the plot of Volume 3. You won’t have to wait much longer to find out what happens – the game ships in a few weeks. Thus, I will refrain from going into specifics about the story at this time.
Same Great Taste – More Filling!
You won’t immediately find differences in the way that Redemption plays. The game is still very much a get-in-there-and-slash kind of RPG, with multiple combos, weapons, and the ability to easily lock-on to any opponent. Haseo’s teammates will be there to lend a helping hand, and when three allies join together, an Avatar Awakenings attack will follow. These deadly attacks will deal severe damage to all surrounding enemies. The damage is preceded by a thrilling sequence of Haseo jumping into the air, he whips out another weapon, and pounds his opponents. Every aspect of his Awakening is akin to the summon spells of Final Fantasy – it’s a big, fantastical display of beauty.
The other graphical features are as impressive as before but don’t appear to have been tweaked much since Volume 2. You will, however, spot never-before-seen visuals in the form of new cards in the Crimson VS mini-game. The card game is still on auto-pilot (here’s hoping that changes in the next .hack series), but if you like collectibles, this is a quick and easy diversion from the main quest.
When it comes to music, one of the defining moments in gaming – for myself, at least – was Parasite Eve. As frustrating as the game was at times, I couldn’t stop playing. The music was incredible, and I was determined to hear every song (multiple times, in most cases).
I don’t want to say that hack//G.U. Vol. 3 is going to be the next Parasite Eve, but its dark and chaotic sounds are spectacular. Listening to this soundtrack is like listening to a masterpiece from 10 years ago. While the music was written very recently, it’s clear that numerous classic RPGs (including Parasite Eve and Final Fantasy X) served as inspiration.
Then, out of nowhere, the game throws in a quirky, upbeat track. Prior to this point, everything was dark and moody, even the menu screen music. (Which, by the way, caused me to put the controller down for a couple minutes just to focus on what was playing. Yeah, it’s that good.) It’s a strange inclusion, for certain. But if there are any players out there that feel the story is too much, this will help relieve some of its intensity.
Hacking its way into gamers’ homes on September 10, .hack//G.U. Vol. 3 is an exciting and relentless action/RPG with a great story, spellbinding music, and high-end graphics. GameZone will bring you more on . hack//G.U.’s conclusion in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.