|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: CyberConnect2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 11, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Anthony Warren
August 9, 2007 - Those who have stuck with the anime based .hack series from the beginning will certainly want to check out the final installment of the current trilogy when .hack//G.U. vol. 3//Redemption hits the market in September. In addition to bringing the current trilogy to a close, Redemption will offer gameplay improvements and new features that should satisfy diehard fans of the .hack series. This installment feels specifically crafted for fans who have stuck it out thus far with upgrades in just about every category.
One of the biggest new features is a new form for our hero, Haseo, called the "Xth" form. The change to this form occurs when Haseo's character data within The World (the fictional massively multiplayer online role-playing game in which the series takes place) is hacked by a mysterious assailant. The result of this unauthorized intrusion is, of course, a whole new set of powers that would normally be far out of reach of the average player of The World. In the simplest terms the Xth form awards your character a pair of sizable pistols equipped with blades that will do more damage the closer you are to your enemy when you attack. The pistols can also be used to perform a "double trigger" attack after invoking one of your special abilities, which adds just a bit more damage to your attack.
As a series that appears in episodic installments, .hack has always been big on reusing environments from one game to the next, but Redemption will offer a number of new locations for your adventuring pleasure. A pair of new root towns, Breg Epona and the Net Slum, will serve as the seedy underbelly of an otherwise glossy, almost serene world. Along with new urban areas, there will also be new dungeon types. These include a jungle like environment and a high tech, tron-like dungeon known as "outer dungeon." Finally, once you reach the end of the game there will be a one hundred floor dungeon that only the biggest and strongest players with the strongest parties will be able to best.
Luckily, the level cap has been raised to anywhere between 100 to 150 and the number of playable characters will expand to 22. This will allow you more options for building your body and increasing your combat prowess. The developers are also adding a new awakening power called the "avatar awakening" that can be used when your party is in dire straights in combat. This power acts like an ability drain, allowing you to extract virus cores from various enemies which you can then trade in to purchase upgrades for your weapons. All of these gameplay upgrades will also be joined by a new steam bike (and riding missions to go along with it), new cards for the Crimson Versus game, and one new arena battle.
With its September release, avid anime fan boys will have plenty of time to geek out about the upcoming conclusion of the .hack//G.U. series.
CCC Freelance Writer