I was a massive fan of the original .hack series but missed GU when it first came around, so it has a lot to live up too as I would sing the praises of the original hack quadrilogy to my friend group. I even own all 4 hack games – Which any game collector will tell you is no easy feat. Cough totes bragging cough.
Something I want to hit off the bat really quickly with this set is that you definitely get a lot for your money. For just £39.99 on Amazon you not only get the brand spanking new followup to the .hack//gu series (Which is excellent) you also get access to Vol 1: Rebirth, Vol 2: Reminisce & Vol 3: Redemption so that even the newest of comers can jump on board! As well as ALLLLLLLL OF THIS you get the terminal disc and “Parody Mode’’.
Terminal Disc is a bunch of videos which I imagine are worth watching but I haven’t as of yet – I want to unlock all the videos and then watch them all and as I haven’t finished all the stories again yet I haven’t wanted to delve into Parody Mode either (I will update this review when I have though)! I do have one minor annoyance I wanted to get out of the way early on and that is having to go through all the branding at the beginning every time I change modes – More noticeably on the change between Terminal Discs and Parody Mode with no skipping at all…Yet you can easily skip all the cut scenes.
One FINAL thing before we delve a little deeper into the games is that you CAN change the voice acting from Japanese if you want to… But you have to hit the Square button on the MAIN menu and change the language here. Which is a stupid way of doing things… Just let me change it in the options like a normal fucking game.
The Hack GU Story:
I’m not going to explain the whole story to you in my own words, but I will give you a brief synopsis of the overarching storyline as provided by the games Wikia:
The .hack gu wiki describes the story as follows In his first adventure in The World R:2 the Adept Rogue Haseo was attacked by PKers but saved by a mysterious player named Ovan. Eight months later Haseo emerged as a powerful PKKer known as the “Terror of Death”, hunting for a strange PKer known only as Tri-Edge who had placed his close friend Shino into a coma six months earlier. Finally encountering Tri-Edge, Haseo was defeated by a strange attack called Data Drain. This attack reset his character back at level 1, however it also awoke a strange power that had been sleeping deep inside of him. This power, the ability to summon an entity known as Skeith drew the attention of a secret organization known as G.U.. As a new member of G.U. Haseo swore to find the truth of what was occurring in The World and find the truth about Tri-Edge. In the first moments of .hack//GU you realise what tupe of game this will be as you are shown around the first world and then betrayed by a couple of ‘’player killers’’ (PK) who introduce noobs to the game in order to just take them down for fun
…What DICKS. I LOVE this kind of cheesy storyline and it had me hooked from the first cut scene, right through to where I am in part 4! If you like cheesy JRPG storylines then you will find a lot to love here.
Now… We all know that this is a remastered version of 3 PS2 games and it certainly feels like it… The games are very much still PS2 games visually in this respect, whilst there is certainly an element of shine and polish to the game, the camerawork just still feels horrendous and janky which is really saddening as it sometimes makes me feel a bit ill, the same way that Star Ocean V did.
In the cutscenes however, I fail to see if anything has been changed at all, call me naïve or whatever but JRPG cutscenes always looked either horrendous, or way way further ahead of their time, and, in the .hack titles, they fit in really well considering the generation. The cinematics are rad as hell, however I never thought I’d say this…There’s potentially too many cutscenes! I just wanna play the damn game!!!
You access different towns in “the world’’ using “keywords’’ that you combine together to access the world which gives a really cool way to shift around the worlds and different dungeons, however this way the game falls into the typical PS2 JRPG tropes with blank open world dungeons with slightly different backgrounds, which can occasionally make the dungeon crawling nature of the game a little boring at times.
Initially it feels as though the game devolves into a “Tap X to win” formula, and that it’s all to the battle system, but there lies a much deeper battle system below the face values which is really a blast to explore once the games open up a bit with little extras such as increasing character affinity by performing different moves etc. One of the ways in which the gameplay shines is through the use of skills during fight sequences as you can map 4 skills to the quick press buttons and tailor Haseo to your preferred style.
The thing is with the .hack games that stopped it being such a success back in the day was that whilst the game pretends you are playing an MMO, it missed the charm of having a bunch of friends to play with which increased the feeling of loneliness in the game.
.hack://gu is a great JRPG series with a lot to love for any fan of the genre, whilst the game does fit in after the original .hack series, it is not a necessity for one to have played all four of the original games but it certainly helps… If you can afford it. WHY Bamco decided to do these 4 as the first bunch of remasters is beyond me because it would have made a lot more sense to do the far superior games first helping people to get more out of “The World”.
That being said, I HAVE played the first 4 games so I found loads of nostalgia and fun within .hack://GU so I rate it a (slightly overgenerous) 8/10