.hack//G.U. Vol. 1// Rebirth – PS2 – Preview

The first
.hack is officially known as the game that launched the unofficial, offline
MMORPG genre. It sounds like a contradiction – an MMO that you play offline?
But that’s precisely what it is. All characters and players, all stories told,
all battles encountered – it’s all conducted through a fictitious world
controlled entirely by the game’s AI. There are no real connections to the
Internet, but the game does pretend to log you in.

Vol.1: Rebirth picks up where the last adventure left off. It’s a whole new
World this time around, and players will notice a greater emphasis on action
and excitement. The story is once again based on characters whose players
don’t really exist. This limits dialogue variety for certain, but allows the
developers to direct the story they want to tell. Events will occur that could
not exist in an open, real-world MMO.


These events
will lead our main character, Haseo, down a path of loss and revenge. He faces
a tough situation at the beginning of the story. It won’t be easy for him to
get back to where he was, nor will he have an easy time going deeper into The

combat is fast and very interactive. Forget the menu point-and-click hoopla
you get with other console RPGs. Pre-conceived attack patterns and other
turn-based aspects do not appear to be included. Though I’ve enjoyed many
turn-based games, the action-oriented style of Rebirth is a nice change. To
strike an enemy down, you will have to run over to him and press the X button.
That’s right – real action combat. Pressing the R1 button brings up a screen
of your special attacks, four of which can be applied to the X, square,
circle, and triangle buttons. Select one and some of your power will be
drained, but the result is a devastating attack. Enemies will be more than
caught off guard by these assaults. 

Most of the
attacks consist of combos, and that means more tapping of the X button. When
you’ve struck an enemy a certain number of times, the X button appears on
screen. Tap it multiple times (quickly) to deal damage. 

The game
feels more like an action title than a typical RPG with the exception that all
battles appear to take place in an enclosed environment. Once enemies have
been encountered, a circular force field forms around the area. You can’t exit
unless you have a special item. The only way you’re going to get out of there
alive is if you defeat all of the enemies.

Enemies are
visible on the map before any battle begins. Other console RPGs have done this
as well, but the only ones I remember start with "Chrono." Rebirth should
change that.

If you’re
looking to dive into each battle with a bang (isn’t everybody who plays in a
faux online world?), lightly push on the left analog stick to slowly approach
enemies. When you’re within range the X button will appear. Call me crazy, but
I think that’s a sign to press it again. Sure enough it is – doing so triggers
an entry attack that thrusts you into battle. You’ll be the first one to
deliver damage, and have the upper hand in following up with other attacks.

the game looks good, sporting characters with a semi-anime appearance, and a
world that looks very "massive." In other words, you’ll feel like you’re in a
PS2 MMO, more so than ever before. Character animations are looking good, and
those of you who have played an MMO will recognize the genre’s influence on
Rebirth’s camera angles.

The music is
also coming along well, sounding dark and moody as previously reported. The
opening track is particularly haunting, with a light, almost operatic vocal.
The battle music is good but runs the risk of becoming repetitive. That’s
nothing new to console RPGs, which have been repetitive since the days of the
NES. That will never change unless someone were to make game with
10,000 different music tracks. Not likely.


for release on October 24th, .hack//G.U. Vol.1: Rebirth looks to redefine the
way console gamers play online RPGs when they’re not really online. Will
Rebirth expand the popularity of RPGs? Its story is intriguing enough to
entice those who could care less about MMOs. The action-intensive gameplay has
the power to immerse players who don’t like the genre at all, whether it’s
online or offline.