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DEVELOPER: CyberConnect2   |   PUBLISHER: Bandai   |   RELEASE: 02/10/2003

Axtuse Grimfist: Where did it go?
Zero Tolerance: I dunno, but that n00b looted my corpse!
Kaiokenattack: He couldn’t have gotten far…it was a bugbear wasn’t it?
Zero Tolerance: Yeah but that shaman cast a speed spell on it!
Trippy Liquid: N-E 1 wanna trade?
Axtuse Grimfist: No thanks
Green Mitama: I did cast a poison spell on the bugbear though…
Kaiokenattack: Wasn’t it brown?
Trippy Liquid: N-E 1 wanna trade?
Axtuse Grimfist: I thought it was grey….and it could have been an ogre…
Zero Tolerance: Naw…it had a morning star like a bugbear…
Kaiokenattack: I hit a lag spike and that was about all I could see…
Trippy Liquid: N-E….(killed by the bugbear)
Zero Tolerance: There it is!
Axtuse Grimfist: Get him!
Kaiokenattack: w00t!

Yeah…you know what I’m talking about…MMORPG-s…the largest internet sensation to spread across the world since porn! And in the vortex of this gaming frenzy is a jewel, called .Hack, spawned from the depths of this international multi-media craze. Hack is another RPG out of a handful that breaks the mold of traditional fantasy and futuristic RPG-s, by taking the concept of an MMORPG and molding it into a traditional text based RPG. You are invited to play in The World, the newest MMORPG that was taken the gaming world by storm in the year 2010 with over 20 million copies sold, making it the most popular game ever made…While you are adventuring with your friend, something occurs in the programming-(I don’t give out spoilers)-but basically, your character learns of a virus that slowly corrupts the programming of The World powerful enough to have very harmful affects on a person physically-Through the course of events, you are given the ability to hack the programming of The World in hopes to stop the virus-Alright, it’s time to log in and see what all the hub-bub is about-

Through The Eyes Of An NPC
Graphics in .Hack are rather mediocre, but is understandable-[1.] MMORPG-s have unpolished graphics because of the vast gameplay, and heavy graphic detail would cause an terrible amount of lag [2.] This is a PS2 game (hahaha!) The character sprites look surprisingly good with smooth detail and physics. A plus in the G&S Dept. is the weapon designs, almost every weapon has an original design, and the weapon designs are almost Final Fantasy worthy (for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, that means the weapons look really damn good)-Special FX such as melee attacks, spells, the whole nine yards look nice and reflect the theme very nicely-Environments compliment the area well, from crucifixed skeletons dangling from trees, to windmills in another plain, the environments look groovy-except for the background in the distance being INCREDIBLY BLURRY-.I think it had to be intentional cause it’s like looking through a fogged-up car window covered in vaseline and axle grease on a chilly December morning-did that explain it well enough? Of course the environment had its’ good points-in areas afflicted by the virus, adverse things happened to the in-game screen, like fuzziness, flashes that invert the color of the game, and other little goodies. These things give .Hack the originality that it sets out to have-With some repetitive tile sets in a lot of the areas, and a few jagged edges in a few areas, the graphics aren’t mind bending to regular gamers, but to MMORPG-ers the graphics are excusable-Now in the sound department, the music in this game is a fine blend of instrumentals with a spice of techno in some songs, and also with the “pump up the tempo with an encounter” deal. Not every single song is perfect (especially Piros’ theme-.ugh-) but regardless, the music is an ear pleaser. The sound FX are rather stale. Hitting someone sounds like your hitting a vat of Jell-o with a flail, but the spells and vocals sound great-The voice acting is tolerable in most cases-but if all else fails you can change the voice acting to Japanese (Yay!!)-All in all, the G&S was fair-

Turn Based Blasphemy
Little things give this game a great deal of originality. Examples: The menu for this game is the kid’s desktop, from it you can change the desktop’s theme, check your e-mail (yes you get e-mail), update yourself with the world news (and the news is so well done and authentic that even Nostradamus would be proud of the producers of Hack), save your data, and access The World-In the main menu of The World is a message board, which is vital to visit when wanting to learn about the game, getting a better grasp of the story, and also looking at the world of-.The World and it’s players, a really cool thing to see. First thing I want to talk about is the system for the lands you traverse. You navigate through the Chaos Gate, which takes you to your desired location through the use of key words. You input three key words from a long list of words, and this determines: The level of the monsters, the type of elemental terrain (fire, water, wood, shadow, ect.), and other things. Things like the number of magic gates (Magic gates spawn monsters and occasionally treasure chests) the depth of the dungeon (there’s a dungeon in every level) and other things (And you will get certain key-words from the forum, or an e-mail that makes the game progress). Also in every server are shops, saving points, and a place to store excess crap. Another thing is meeting other players in those servers and trading with them (Trading is vital to getting good equipment early on in the game).

The gameplay is strictly MMORPG, real-time combat, spell casting, you name it. Except for the items, which can be used instantly, this is good and bad-if you’re quick on your toes, you can save yourself from a dangerous situation, but of course this detracts from the difficulty of the game. I liked the status system in .Hack-like in a MMORPG no matter how damn good your equipment is and how high your level is you can still get whacked around by lower level monsters if you aren’t careful. In the skills department, the type of equipment you have affects the skills you have, this makes it to where you can’t complain about a certain armor’s parameters when it offers you a good set of spells that are necessary for a certain elemental plane. One of the most important factors of this game is that accusation of virus cores. With your new found power you have the ability to Data Drain, which is the ability to draw out the programming codes of a monster and downgrade them, either resulting in a virus core or the random weapon placed in every monster (kinda like using Data Drain on Atma to get the Atma sword). You use these virus cores to hack protected gates and gain access to them. Exp gain gets more and more difficult with increasing levels, but when in a party of people (three max), everyone gets the same amount of Exp-I like it better when if you want some levels, you gotta go renegade and fly into the danger zone (great song by the way). Another thing was the regeneration of SP, I thought it was a little too fast, but of course I can’t complain when I’m running from three hell hounds trying to get enough SP to use an ice spell! Two thumbs way up for gameplay!

.Hack is a game with an ingenious theme, with plenty of elements in the gameplay to give it that lovely just washed look every mother looks for! This game gets huge points for its originality, but a couple of marks off for its sketchy graphics/sound fx and muddled story. The story did really captivate me at all, but was still entertaining with the meshing of the news/forum stuff and some intricate plot twists here and there. I’m definitely getting this game for the theme, the anime CD, for parts 2 and 3 of the series, and for it’s rocking gameplay-Hack may not please every RPG-holic, but MMORPG-ers should definitely give this game a look-Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will exit with a quote from my buddy: “I gotta go help my guild bust up that n00bie dragon for all that fat loot and exp-.w00t!”

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