Shin

.hack//Infection


Status
-Console: Sony Playstation 2
-ESRB Rating: Teen
-Genre: Simulated MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game)
– #Of Players: 1
-Difficulty: Normal
-Developed by: Cyber Connect 2
-Completion Time: 25 hours
– #Of discs: 2 (additional anime DVD)

-Presentation: 9/10

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.

-Story: 8/10

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.

-Sound 6/10

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.

-Control: 7/10

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.

-Graphics 5.5/10

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.

Longevity: 5/10

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

.Hack//sign

Genre: Mystical/Drama
number of episodes: 26

Plot = A(definately original idea)
Characters = B+
Music = A+
Overall = A

General Outlook:

First off i too was thrown by the odd name, .hack. Among other things, i figured this to be some odd techno/hacker anime. And while there is “technically” that in there, this game is very much a mystical wonderland of fun. Yeah i did say game, because .hack is about the mysteroius MMORPG called ‘The World’ which has swept the world in popularity. the main focus revolves around the odd appareance of strange PC’s, and a mysterious wizard named Tsukasa who cant remeber many things, but finds to his dismay, that he cant log out, and not only that but has some sort of mysterious protector and a gaurdian monster that causes him and the world trouble with its “protectors” the scarlet knights. The story takes off from there, and I mean takes off. Every episode is a nice ride, as were sent to figure out the mystery of whats happening, along with the PC’s who befriend the confused Tsukasa. Very magic and swords, but there is actually not too much action, relying on the drama, and mystery to push the story forward. Full of funny, RPG jokes, and oddly very deep philosophical moments, this is a great anime.

Music:
Damn the group See-Saw. They are the group who i have to blame for a AWESOME soundtrack, full of inspiring kick ass vocals, that can make Enya kiss my wizards knob, lol. Also oddly enough most are in english(though it took me 3 episodes to figure that out, listen to enough japanese and anything else sounds foreign, lol), and there is a nice mix of techno beats. The various composed songs not done by see-saw, are also done by the same Composer as Noir, which also has a similar, ass kicking soundtrack. Its a bit annoying that yet another anime i watch has a not only good soundtrack, but an AWESOME-I-MUST-DOWNLOAD soundtrack…uh..which i have, lol. Check it out yourself, a few songs for easy DL, and listen are: “Obsession-main theme, Aura, Fake Wings, Key of the Twilight, and Gentle Twilight.

Characters:
Well first off, the character design is really nice. They fit in perfect into the odd mystical RPG setting, and all are various classes too boot.(Heavy swordsman, archers, Wizard, sorceress…you’ll see em all). Each character has his own unique PC, but as the series goes on, they come to let more and more of the RL into themselves. You dont even realize that you never learn the name of all the RL characters, you become so attached to their “Worl” persona’s. Tsukasa can be a bit whiny, or annoying at first, but he develops the most, along with the intriquite feelings between him, Mimiru and Subaru two female companions he meets. The PC’s really are the focus of the anime, but i cant say too much for fear of ruining story. i will add, that i love the oddly funny, super deadly, Ninja like character Sora, who aside from being a PK(player killer) spends his time singing odd childhood songs, and making silly noises, and wisecracks no matter what.


Mimiru and Subaru<br>

My Thoughts(and spoilers):
At first, when they actually move to the main story thread, you feel a bit overwhelmed, and happy. You very much get the feeling of playing a similar game and wanting to defeat this quest. The best part is the slow feeling you get as items come into play, and the story evolves, and you see how its shaping, beautiful. Wonderful plot twists. Its end however has the biggest plot twist left open to annoy you, with Sora being turned into a giant weapon of death, and then everyone being dumped from the final field when the hacker Helba trys her last ditch plan. Even worse, is how the horrible hint, that the “real” world Tsukasa(a female, despite her Male PC, which is odd considering the love triangle…) meeting Subaru is fake. How there is that odd, distorting reality, and the sudden voice of the “world” speaking the final lines it repeated from the begining, how it needed him as much as her in this world… Freaky stuff. hopefully the OVA will clear things up, but i watched 2 parts of it, and really im just more confused, lol.

By Darknight ZO

.Hack//Liminality

Director: Koichi Mashimo
Screenplay: Kazunori Ito
Art Director: Mari Kawai
Character Design: Toshiya Washida
Producer: Daisuke Yamauchi
Release Date(s):
Volume 1. (In the case of Mai Minase) June 2002
Volume 2. (In the case of Yuki Aihara) September 2002
Volume 3. (In the case of Kyoko Tohno) Decemember 2002
Volume 4. (Trismegistus) March 2003

Episodes: 4
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age: 13up

Series Review:
After the events that dealt with Tusaksa and Mimiru (.Hack//Sign), “The World” is falling into even more chaos. CC Corp seems to losing control of their game, and whatever gave Tusaksa the guardian, and turned Sora into Skeith, has set its eyes onto other things.

That’s where we meet Mai Minase, Mai and her friend Tomanari fell into a coma while playing “The World” and are being rushed to the hospital. Mai eventually comes out of comatose, but her friend still remains in comatose.

Mai meets Junichirou Touoka, a man that wants to find out why the things are happening in the world. He asks Mai if she would assist him in his search for answers, since she’s one of the few that came out of comatose she would be very good ally to have. Mai decides to help him; it might help her find answers to wake her friend who remains in the hospital due to the game.

Together Mai and Touoka begin their journey to unravel the mystery behind the events taking place in the world. However, time is not on their side, “The World” is becoming even more dangerous for players and whatever is affecting the world is now affecting the real world. CC Corp is beginning to become worried that all of this might be assumed to be their fault and is planning on pulling the plug on the game, which consequently would kill all the patients that are in comatose.

Mai and Touoka have got to hurry and uncover what is going on before it’s too late.

Characters:
Mai Minase
(Main Character in the first DVD) Mai was placed in a comatose state while playing “The World’; however, she was able to come out rather quickly. Junichirou contacts her and asks for help her help, Mai takes Junichirou up on his offer. She doesn’t know much about “The World” as she was only a newbie when she and her classmate, Tomanari, fell into a coma. Mai and Junichirou are going to get to the bottom of what’s going behind in “The World” and try to find a way to save those in a coma from being killed.

Yuki Aihara
(Main character in the second DVD)One of Tomanari online friends, Yuki Aihara was contacted by Junichirou to help him uncover what is happening. While on her way to meet up with Junichirou she gets trapped in a building, due to a blackout caused by the game. Yuki is the stubborn are hard-headed one in the group.

Kyoko Thno
(Main character in the third DVD) Kyoko acts as a communications link between Helba and the rest of the group. Kyoko knows a lot about the Epitaph of Twilight like that it’s the bases for the game, she also knows about the mysterious creator of the game. Yuki is the one that told Junichirou about Kyoko, and that she might be of some use.

Junichirou Tokuoka

Junichirou while working for CC Corp became suspicious of their actions and responsibility for what’s happening inside the game. Junichirou contacted both Mai and Yuki and requested their assistance. He’s determined to get to the bottom of whatever conspiracy is responsible for what’s happening inside and outside “The World”. Junichirou is in a race against time to help those in their comatose before CC Corp pulls the plug. *pun intended*

Grading:
Story 8.0/9.0
Characters 7.5/8.0
Music 9.0/9.0 “All hail the mighty See-Saw”
Animation 9.0/9.0

Opinion:
Released into four separate volumes as a gift for buying the .hack games, Liminality corresponds to the game; however unlike other .hack series this one takes place outside the game in the real world. This is surprising seeing as how .hack tends to stay away from the real world and usually just concentrates on what’s happening in the game.
Liminality, in terms of animation, characters, music and story is very similar to that of .hack//Sign, which for any hard-core .hack fan you know is a good thing. I’m so happy that See-Saw came in and worked on this one. *starts to cry tears of joy* Like most things regarding Dot Hack you’re always left with more questions than answers, still it’s a pretty good anime. Although the story is a bit mixy at first, because you really have no idea what they are trying to accomplish until the end. Liminality would have been better if it was extended into a full series instead of the four OVAs; however, I must say I am content.
It’s best to be familiar with the general story that is Dot Hack, or else you’ll be pretty confused as to what is going on.
.hack//Liminality however doesn’t offer much to the overall story: .hack//sign, .hack//infection through .hack//quarantine, and .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet. It’s more like a extra dose of brain candy *yum* for die-hard fans.
Here’s the deal, you’ll enjoy Liminality if you like .hack; you’ll find out things about Harold, the creator of the game, and his relationship to what’s happening in “The World”; and discover some interesting things about Aura and ‘her mother’, which might tie up some question that you might have from .hack//sign. That’s about as much of a contribution Liminality gives to the overall story.
If you like watching .hack//sign and are currently playing the video games and enjoy that too, check out Liminality. If you’re still new to the world of .hack I recommend that you leave Liminality until you’re more familiar with the story.

By Cherubim

.hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet

Alternative Title: .hack//Tasogare no Udewa Densetsu (Japanese)
Original Director: Koichi Mashimo
Creator: Rei Izumi, Tatsuya Hamazaki (Manga)
Screenplay: Satoru Nishizono
Character Design: Yoko Kikuchi
Art Director: Yoshimi Unno
First Aired: Janurary 08 2003 (USA)
Genre: Adventure
Age: All

Based on the Manga of the same name
Last installment to this franchise: .hack//sign, .hack//infection, .hack//mutation, .hack//outbreak, .hack//quarantine, .hack//Liminity, .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet.

Series Review:
This series is meant to end to the great franchise that is .hack. Legend of the Twilight Bracelet doesn’t hold up its predecessors, but that’s not saying it isn’t a good series.

4 years ago (before Shugo and Rena joined) there was the Twilight Incident—which if you ever played the game (.hack//Infection/Mutation/Outbreak/Quarantine) it’s the ending—the CC Corporation made the two characters that saved the world (Kite and Black Rose) legends—after they banned them. As part of a promotion to attract new members the CC Corp. created the Limited Edition Contest in which the winners would receive the legendary dot hackers avatars.

Shugo, your typical adolestant teen-ager, gave up on video games once he entered junior high, but his twin sister Rena is still addicted. She enters both of them into the special contest held by the CC Corporation; she won and convinces her brother to join the world. Neither was prepared for what they were going to encounter.

It seems that the original Twilight Incident wasn’t the end to Aura and the trouble she seems to bring with her. Characters, once again, have been going into comas mysteriously. Balmung (who has been promoted to System Admin) quickly realizes that the return of the legendary dot hackers and the cases of members falling into comas is not a coincidence. He’s going to keep an eye on Shugo and Rena, and make sure the events of four years ago that nearly brought the world to a crashing halt doesn’t happen again. Shugo and Rena, of course, have no idea that their rare avatars cause such uproar or that members have falling into a comas and that they are now the new dot hackers meant to save the The World.

Being the new dot hackers Kite is going to need special help, in an out-of-the blue encounter with Aura she gives him the Twilight Bracelet—which if you’re new to the series give the holder the ability to use Data Drain and Gate Hack. Shugo and Rena are now drawn into a world—within The World—of monsters, and a group of individuals bent on bringing The World down to its knees. Will Shugo, Rena and friends be enough to take on whatever is thrown at them?

Characters:

Shugo
Shugo didn’t really want to be part of the events that he got dragged into, but when duty calls he is sure to be there to help. He is very protective of twin sister. He is also very friendly. Of course his major problem is he doesn’t read the manual! Shugo doesn’t seem to be right person to do the job of saving the world, but is going to do his best anyway.

Rena
Shugo’s Twin sister. Rena is responsible for getting them into all the mess that they get into by entering them into the contest. Rena and Shugo’s parents are divorced so they lived away from each other for a while; The World seems to be a place where they can both together and not be separated. Rena is very practical and tries to keep her cool in difficult situations. Rena is kidnapped and the entire series becomes a search and rescue mission; of course Rena doesn’t just sit and wait to be rescued she going to do something.

Mirelle
Does she look familiar, anyone? Mirelle is the one and only daughter of the rare item hunter Mistreal from the games. If those of you that played it remember in the second installment when Mirelle had to leave; because she was having a baby, well here’s the finished product. Mirelle uses her mother Avatar, because Mistreal was so cool. Just like her mom, Mirelle wants to collect the rarest items in the world. She followed Shugo and Rena, because their avatars looked quite rare. Mirelle becomes close friends with both Shugo and Rena, and becomes a very dependable alley when it comes to potions and other necessary items.

Ouka
Disguised as a wolf/dog, Ouka takes a fondness to Shugo when he says he would like to make Ouka his online pet. Since then Ouka has always been around Shugo. She’s a very power fighter and is known throughout the game.

Hotaru
A cute wave-master, she doesn’t do much in terms of battle, but she will give her support whichever way she can. She is always seen caring for a small grunty.

Sanjuro
Some of you might remember Sanjuro from the game, this time around he decides to take Shugo under his wing and mentor him, teach him the ways of the warrior. Sanjuro knows some information about the Twilight Incident from four years ago, so he becomes a valuable member of the team.

Balmung
Now System Administration, it’s his job to keep players interested in The World, and to make sure that everything remains under control. Balmung is a lot more involved this time around; he realizes that the new dot hackers and the events happening in the world aren’t by mere chance. He watches over and helps Shugo and the others, even when CC Corporation has placed them on the most wanted list. Balmung doesn’t loose his great fighting ability. He seems to like being involved in the actual game than watching over it.

Reki
Reki is Balmung’s assitant, and probably his greatest fan, too. Reki keeps his real intensions to himself and sometimes is using players to get what he wants done. Reki believes Balmung is best in the game instead of working behind the scenes, and arranges is that Balmung is sent to play the game—as he loses his position as System Admin. Reki is pretty smart and probably won’t fight you head on, but he would find a way to kiss your arse with getting dirty.

Grading:
Story7/9
Characters 8/9
Music 6/9
Animation 8/9

Opinion:
I must say there is sadness in my heart, Legend of the Twilight Bracelet is the last installment of great series. Sad Legend of the Twilight Bracelet didn’t really live up to its predecessors, but I still enjoyed it. It doesn’t really tie-up all the loose ends that left you puzzled in .hack//sign. The characters aren’t as in-dept as the prior installments, but still cool. Legend of the Twilight Bracelet does a good job of keeping up with the mystery part, which makes .hack// such a great franchise.
You don’t have to know much, or even anything, about the prior series; that’s the good thing about .hack you can always pick it up from anywhere. You’ll probably like Legend of the Twilight Bracelet better if you watched and/or played the game, and is a bit more familiar with the story, but it won’t hurt if you pick up from the beginning of this series. Legend of the Twilight Bracelet is pretty different compared to the others, but it has the ability to stand on it’s own to feet as an anime. Watch this series if you want to see the ending of .hack// or if you’re in the mood for an entertaining bunch of characters and a good story.

By Cherubim

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.