|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 Matthew Walker
Trilogy games always seem to get a bad rap. Sure most game sequels never deliver on the magic the first volume created, but occasionally some games that reach number three will. Unfortunately, by the time they endure all the scorn for number two gamers do not even want to try for the third. Thankfully the .hack series has not fallen into the category of the trilogy curse. If you need more proof there is none clearer than the recent release of .hack//G.U. vol.3//Redemption. After playing through the second installment of the series, I quickly realized I could not wait for the next volume to arrive in my PS2 library.
With good reason too. I desperately wanted to receive some sort of closure after the second volume. I needed the plot holes filled in. I needed another go around inside "The World." More than any of those, I needed to use the save file I had from the second volume to boost up Haseo at the beginning of volume three. Much like what I said in the review for volume two, I am still very happy to have a series that acknowledges the fans that dove into the series and cleared the previous title. I know this may be a little thing, but after years of playing titles and their sequels, I have been a little blown back by how I am constantly treated to a reset of the characters after the trials and tribulations I had put them through in previous games. This is only one of the small things that this volume in the G.U. series got right. Thankfully, they did not just stop there.
Just like the other sequel in the series, Redemption begins with a brief recap of the end of the previous title. More importantly, it sets the stage for the rest of the game. There are a few scenes about the progression of Haseo. This was helpful when I showed this new volume to friends that only spent a few hours with the previous title. Just like the other installments, volume three takes place inside the virtual reality realm called "The World." You play as Haseo, a PKer or player killer, which has now become a PKKer, player killer killer. Through him, we have discovered the sources for the sickness or virus that infect the game, which also seems to be venturing into the real world as well. This being an RPG you will of course have a few friends along for the journey. The interesting thing here is that you will ultimately have 22 different characters join your party, thus creating a few variations to your strategy of conquering the evil of "The World."
The combat system will be familiar to previous players. In fact, if you are looking for revolutionary tweaks to the games battle system you will be disappointed. This is both a good thing and a bad. Keeping things simple and not trying to drastically change how you play through is always a good thing in my book. Unfortunately, if you felt that the battle system was becoming repetitive in Reminisce, then you will become sick of the combat system quicker. This is also the case if you have become tired of the hack-n-slash RPG games. I do not like saying that is all there is to the combat system but at times, especially in the beginning, I felt there was no real need to try anything different and quickly became bored. However, later in the game there were a few instances where I needed to change things up a little. Haseo does receive a new Awakening power that makes the combat a little more entertaining, but in a way, I wanted a little more to combat this time around. Having said that, fans of the series will find nothing wrong with the combat of the game. After all, it is one of the reasons they have fallen in love with the series. I give most of the credit for this to the controls. There have been way too many games where the controls were the main source of dislike in RPGs that used Real-time Action Battle Systems. There were a few times that the controls felt unresponsive, but these were so few I never felt they were hindering the performance of my character, except maybe with the Steam Bike. This was due to the ultra simplistic approach to using the Steam Bike. Then again it was also the case in the previous installments, must be user error. Either way, you will need to make sure you don't fall into the same category as I did with the Steam Bike since there are five new missions for the bike this time around. Just be sure to pay attention to your surroundings wherever you go.
Graphically, Redemption will at first look appear just as the previous installments, however there are a few tweaks done on the environments and characters. These are minimal advancements but you can notice the smoothness of the character models, the textures to the environments, and especially the fluidity of the cut-scenes. Granted these are small improvements but at least the effort was made. I would say that due to these small tweaks Redemption is superior to Reminisce graphically. The same voice actors return, to about the same level as in the previous titles. Nothing too horrid, but nothing to demand an award either, same goes for the music. A lot of the music is recycled but what is new is pleasantly blended with the other scores of the game.
The .hack series may not have the mega following of some other RPGs on the market, but the followers it does claim are loyalists, otherwise they would have never made it this far. This is a great thing to witness; people having such enthusiasm for a series and sticking around for several installments without really knowing where it is going. Redemption may not be the best of the best, but it has the markings of one of the strongest story driven RPGs out there. If you have been a fan from the beginning or one that was sucked in recently, Redemption will deliver on many of your expectations. For those coming in late to the series, you might want to start from the beginning before jumping into the final act.
CCC Project Coordinator