Improved but still lackluster.
It wasn’t too long ago that I reviewed SAO: Hollow Fragment on the Vita.
Due to the poor translation effort and numerous technical issues, it was a very difficult game to enjoy. So, when I heard that the PS4 port would feature a brand new translation with added tweaks/content thrown in, I wondered if it would be enough of an improvement to make the game feel truly worthwhile.
Even though I can confidently say that the PS4 port is a huge improvement over the original, it’s still not a particularly great game.
Platforms: Vita, PS4(download only)
Voice Acting: JPN only
Multiplayer: Online Co-Op
Played: 10~ hours
First of all, I must mention that I have not watched the SAO anime and as such, I don’t consider myself a fan of the series.
I wouldn’t say I dislike it but I’ve never really had enough interest in it to check it out for myself.
I am obligated to point this out due to the fact that the enjoyment of these licensed games tend to largely depend on the player being a fan of the series and having a lot of prior knowledge about the characters/story that it’s based on.
While SAO RE: HF remains mostly the same game as the original (read the original review here), it has a few rather significant improvements that makes it the superior version.
The horrid translation that plagued the original has been redone completely with dialogue that reads naturally and tutorials that are easier to understand.
Secondly, there’s the addition of the online multiplayer where players can form a group with three other players and go on myriad of different missions for loot/exp.
There are other tweaks to the gameplay as well with super attacks no longer taking SP to perform and instead being on cool down which dramatically decreases the overall difficulty of the combat.
These changes make the game much more enjoyable to play and adds significant longevity through the online multiplayer.
Still, even with all those improvements, the pacing of the game gets old rather quickly.
Doing missions and side objectives to reveal the skills/properties of the floor boss and taking it down, punctuated by not-so-entertaining events involving Kirito and his harem.
It seems to go on and on like that and after clearing a few floors, I felt my desire to get back into the game decrease drastically.
Also, while the addition of the online mode is a nice touch, the implementation is rough to say the least.
It’s very difficult to communicate with other players and even figuring out which area to teleport for the quest can be a pain in the ass.
For those expecting an intuitive online experience will surely leave disappointed and frankly, confused.
Lastly, given that this is a Vita game on the PS4, I expected to see the constant framerate issues found in the original to be ironed out but the game actually runs very poorly on the PS4 which seems impressive, in a sad kind of way.
I was glad to see that SAO:HF was able to put forth a more earnest effort with its improved translation and gameplay tweaks but when it’s all said and done, it’s still not a particularly good game.
Fun Tidbit – This will be free to download to those who preorder the upcoming SAO title for the PS4, “Lost Song” but it remains to be seen how good that game will be.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.