Hack Infection – PS2 – Review

Lets face it; the RPG Genre has gotten really
stale over the years. It seems like every RPG game that has been released is
just a carbon copy of the one released a few months before that with better
graphics and a different set of characters. So in comes .hack, its goal is to
try to innovate this genre and take it to a new level, by combining both online
RPG’s and offline ones into one game. Can this combination work out, or is it
another failed attempt to innovate this genre? Read on to find out!

When the game is loaded for the first time, the character you are playing as
creates a character to use on "the world". After that players will sign on to
"the world" and meet your real world friend, who is going to teach you how to
play the game. While out on your first mission, something devastating happens,
your friend gets hurt in the game, and now he is in a coma at a local hospital.
It is your goal to find out what caused your friend to become in this
dilapidated state. As time goes on you acquire many times such as: "gate hack",
"Data Drain", and many other tools and friends that help you along this journey.
There are many characters out in the game, so your best bet is to remain
friendly, and they will become your ally; because the one thing you don’t need
is more enemies!

The game takes place in a few main areas: main screen, town, fields, and
dungeons. When players first load the game, they will be booted up to the
welcome screen. Here players have the options to login to the world, check their
email, look at the news, and change game options. Once they hit the login to the
world, they can either post messages on the forums or go into the actual game.
These features are really neat, since it really gives the players the impression
that they are really playing an online game. Different characters will email you
thoughout the game, and you can even reply to them, but all of the emails are
predefined. All of the news is what is currently going on in the game, such as
information on new server upgrades and small tips to help the players out. The
forums in the game work like real forums, there are tons of posts and replies to
read. A lot of these posts are just hints to help the players in the beginning,
but later on players will be able to post stuff that is going on with them in
the game, and to see if they can get any help to why certain events are
occurring.

When players actually log into the world they go directly into a town. This will
allow them to stock up on supplies and meet new party members. Players can
attempt to see if previous party members are online to help them out in their
quest. When players have somewhere to go, they input the keywords, and they are
transported to a playing field with a few enemies, and other things scattered
throughout the level. Then they can go into a dungeon where rare hidden items
that lie dormant, and ripe for the picking.

Keywords are the main way to transport to different areas in the game. Making a
combination of several keywords will take players to a new region to explore.
Players will be able to make their own combinations or use the ones that are
predefined to help move along the story. This allows players a great amount of
freedom to level up your character; since you will need all the experience you
can get for later levels.

The combat is really easy for the game. All players have to do is hit the X
button to swing your twin swords and strike the enemy. That is the easy part,
but that will not get you anywhere. Players will have to use all of their
resources at their disposal to become truly victorious in this game. They will
have to use all of the skills, items, equipment, and party members in the most
effective fashion to win the game, and avoid being killed in battle.

.hack//Infection is rated T for Teen.

Gameplay: 8.8
.hack//Infection is extremely fun to play! The combat is exciting, the
controls are fluid, and the pace of the game is really good. The only thing that
can cause you heartache is the camera in the game. At times it can get jittery,
but it is nothing that can’t be overcome with buttons that allow you to have
complete control over it. This game will keep you entertained for hours, the
only thing that is sad is that we will have to wait till part two comes out.

Graphics: 8.9
The game looks really nice! The character designs are just extremely
awesome! Each of the characters has a high polygonal count and they are nicely
textured. The world in which the players do battle in is huge, to compensate for
this, there is little detail when they are in the field. This is really nothing
to scoff at, because when players are in towns or dungeons, they are very nicely
modeled. The game also runs at a very smooth frame rate, which is great, because
nothing can be more annoying than battling an enemy then the game slowing down.

Sound: 9.0
There is one thing that Bandai did that will please all purists out in the
world. They decided to give players the option of hearing the Japanese or
English voiceovers. I think that this is a really awesome inclusion! The sound
effects are really great as well. The music is something people would expect
from an online RPG. Plus this game into a surround sound system and you will be
immersed into the music!

Difficulty: Medium
The game can be a little hard to get used to, especially with the fidgety
camera. If players warp to the wrong parts of the game, they can become food for
some of the monsters fast! The game never gets to the point where it becomes a
chore to play, and it maintains the fun/challenge ratio really well.

Concept: 10.0
I know what you are thinking, Michael just gave this game a perfect score
for concept, is he crazy? I think that this game has one of the most innovative
spins upon any RPG I have played in the past few years. It is a game, where
players are a person playing another game, how awesome is that? .hack//Infection
gives the perfect illusion that you are really in a cyber world, full of other
real humans playing the game, and I have to commend Cyber Connect for this
concept. It is developers like this that help keep the market fresh with
innovative ideas and they deserve a round of applause for this!

Overall: 9.0
So what if this game has a few quirks about it, this is the most fun I have
had playing an RPG in a long time! This game just spews forth with innovation,
and a fresh outlook upon this genre. Anyone who passes this game off as another
dungeon crawler, or a rip off of any other RPG is out of their minds! If you
have a PlayStation 2, then drive to your nearest retailer and pick up a copy of
this game! You will not regret it, and your PS2 will thank you for it!