|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: CyberConnect 2||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: May 8, 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
May 16, 2007 - RPGs are a constant changing genre. This becomes more and more apparent with each new addition to the already impressive pantheon of titles on the market. While this will come as no surprise to existing fans of the .hack series, new fans accustomed to the traditional RPG will once again have to accept the new changes. However, there is one thing that .hack//G.U. Vol. 2: Reminisce preserves in the genre - the epic long time to unfold the storyline. In fact, the .hack series is quickly becoming known for taking an excessively long time to tell the complete story.
Reminisce, much like the previous .hack games, will take place in the video game reality The World, more specifically, The World: Revision Two. This "new" world is a lawless fantasy world, which has become something of a safe haven for the player killers. Everything seems to be fine, at least until Reminisce gets underway. The gamers in the world face a serious problem: they cannot log out. They have become a part of the game, living through The World instead of their real world counterparts. The administration of the game provides no information for the detrimental bug in the game. Therefore, the player killers decide to "slaughter" anything in the way thinking that if they find the ones responsible for this hack, they will then revert back to the real world. However, as we eventually find out, this may not be the only, or correct, way to handle the stressful situation.
Haseo returns to the title role of "hero" in this game, along with his guildsmen of the previous title - Pi, Kurhn, Atoli, and Master Yata. The opening sequence of the game does a nice job recapping the events of the first title in the series, but it is very much like the opening of Xenosaga. The opening sequence takes an incredibly long time to unfold, and once you think it's over, there is more dialogue that follows and you must push the occasional X button to progress. Even though the recap is a commendable thing to include for new players, the length of the dialogue and the lack of action could turn away both new and old fans. Then again, this is an RPG. If you have picked this title up, then you know what to expect right from the get go as far as story length. There is, however, at least one annoying thing that has to be pointed out. When Atoli awakens in the Serpents Lore, she begins to talk and everything seems to be normal. Then, through questionable acting, we find out the things are not fine. After a few moments of slightly confusing dialogue, we find out that no one can hear her. This is where the problem comes in. After we are told that the other characters cannot hear her, they continue to interact as if they, in fact, can hear her by responding to her outcries and reactions to the situation. This can be confusing as the story progresses without an explanation for the continued interaction.
When the game ultimately begins, new players should not expect a well thought out tutorial for their adventure. Aside from the text prompts that appear when you open up the menu screen or when you are talking with someone, you will get no other direction. This can quickly become a nuisance when you enter into your first battle. However, the simplicity of the combat is definitely a plus here. The battles are immensely fast and you will usually only rely on one button for attacks, at least until you grow comfortable and start exploring the use of other buttons. As I said earlier, there is not a formal tutorial for you to get accustomed to the game with. There is, however, the capability to travel to low-level areas to fight and become familiar with the combat system before beginning you journey. There is another advantage to going to these low level areas; of course you gain experience, although not really enough to amount for anything, but you can acquire a good bit of GP, money in the game, for your efforts. It is definitely worth going to these low-level areas before beginning because once you begin, you may wish you had. Trust me. Fortunately, you will have access to them throughout the game.
Your goal quickly becomes to track down the Aida entities and destroy them. Once they are destroyed, you obtain seeds you will use in order to try and escape. You will obtain these seeds through a new Awakening power that is almost the equivalent of a summons in other RPGs, with the exception of full player control. The avatar battles are very fast paced, but nothing like the actual battles of the game which are hyperactive. Once you finish a level, you are graded on you performance - how many enemies you snuck up on, how many you defeated, how many objects you broke, to name a few. Once you figure out the levels, you will have no problem getting a high rank at the end of each level. Because the levels are so similar though, you may become bored. Reminisce does at least try to incorporate other features to keep the game fresh, like the Crimson VS Card game, and the Steam Bike missions. Both of these features have their high moments, but become more of a distraction than anything else. If you want to complete the game, bothering with these really make no sense since it offers nothing to further the story.
Graphically, Reminisce preserves The World quite nicely. The environments are not too heavily detailed, and everything is kept simplistic, yet beautiful. Even the characters themselves are presented beautifully. While the designs may be over the top in a few cases, you have to keep in mind that the game is presented as a game within a game title, so the over the top designs are completely excusable. There is an occasional framerate issue, but still totally forgivable since it's nothing that detracts from the game. The voice acting of the main characters is solid; their performances are close to being perfect. Albeit a bit over the top in some cases, the voice acting of supporting characters will quickly make you wish that the main character would interject and make them be quiet. The score of the game is nicely done: nothing too rambunctious or deafening, just nice tranquil thematic music mostly.
Reminisce adds only a few things to keep the returning fans locked into the gameplay, but with a setup like this, where the story and progression of characters is broken up over multiple titles, the story is what matters most. Here, Reminisce delivers quite nicely. But, again, the simplicity of gameplay may turn off new players and even a few returning fans. There is enough to keep the brand-new-to-the-genre player into the game, but it might give them the false illusion that RPGs are nothing more than an expansive hack-n-slash game. Reminisce has its strong points, it is just that most of them reside in the complex story. Maybe in the future we could have a straight to DVD compilation of all of the .hack games for our viewing pleasure. At least that way we won't have to worry about interaction.
CCC Freelance Writer