-Console: Sony Playstation 2
-ESRB Rating: Teen
-Genre: Simulated MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game)
– #Of Players: 1
-Developed by: Cyber Connect 2
-Completion Time: 25 hours
– #Of discs: 2 (additional anime DVD)
The main gimmick behind this game is to make you believe that you are playing an online game, OFFLINE! In most of the situations, it is a very believable concept. From the start of the game, you are lurking the message boards, communicating to other “players” and going on adventures with them. You have an “operating system” that allows you to change the wallpaper and listen to tunes that you have gained through progression in the storyline. Characters will send you e-mails, and you can respond to them with a few choices that are given to you. All of the little things like NPCs (non-playable characters) talking about their cats, and their favorite foods in the root towns make you feel like this is a real online world and that others are playing along with you.
The game’s story is the first chapter of a four-part saga. It takes place in the near future. You play a character known as Kite (his name can be changed to one that is more fitting of the player) invited by your best friend Yasuhiko to play the world’s most popular RPG called “The World”. So as soon as you log in, you receive e-mail from your friend giving you a brief view of what you both are going to do in the game. After you start playing, a freak accident occurs, and you decide to find out why it happened, and is going on behind the scenes.
The musical score isn’t varied, as a large majority of the tunes are all relaxing themes that are nice, but can put you to sleep. In exception to the final boss music, nothing really stands out as memorable. The game also has pretty good voice-overs, but on a few occasions they seem rushed. If you dislike the English dubbing there is also an option for the original Japanese voice talent. All in all, a decent job, though some voices no matter which language you choose will still grate your nerves.
The introduction you get during the beginning of the game is well delivered, and moving the character around is done with ease. When you are journeying with other characters, you can pause the game and give commands to your allies which battle alongside you in real time. Everything is streamlined to help the player get their objectives done.
One flaw is the camera. Though it is completely manual, it becomes difficult to keep track of where the larger or faster enemies are on screen. Battles can become very intense in some of the higher level dungeons and the screen gets clogged with the constant banter of the NPCs in your party, battle data of your enemies, and any spell or move effects that may be used at the time. It can become very distracting. They try to remedy this by putting in an optional 1st person mode, but this mode shares its own set of problems. I constantly found myself having trouble getting everything I needed to see in the perspective of my character.
Graphically, this game barely looks like a 1st generation Playstation 2 game. The landscapes are “randomly generated” by putting key words in the menu at the Chaos Gates, which take you from the root towns to the battle areas. The areas are pretty sparse, if you have seen one Grassland area, you have practically seen them all. Battles also can be plagued by graphic slowdown if there are too many enemies in the area. Character models are pretty crude and have their share of jagged edges. Though the other characters that populate the world probably wouldn’t have as much attention to detail as the main characters, there seems to just be so few different character models, and those models have many, many, many different color swaps of the same models. Often times characters can appear nearly identical to one another.
This game is fun, but since nothing really gets solved in the storyline, one trip should be enough for most gamers to see if they want to continue with the series. Unless you want to unlock all of the movies, or venture through the extra area, you really won’t be playing for long. Even those quests are pretty short.
Final Score: 7/10
All in all, this game is fun, but won’t appeal to everyone. Gameplay can often get tedious when not following the storyline. Often moves will connect without physically hitting the target, which make the battles seem unpolished. I also wish they had more options to customize the player’s appearance. It would have been nice to change your class or gender, since the main character’s voice over could have fit both male and female characters. It is a minor gripe, but it could have made the experience a great deal deeper. A nice bonus included in this version is the .hack//Liminality anime DVD, which shows what is happening outside of the game, in the real world, during the events of the games.
By Plumbum Sol