The game is a 4 part collection of the Hack/GU series by Cyberconnect2. The Vol 4 is a new addition to the series that serves as a form of story ending for this part.
It is a JRPG game originally for the PS2. It takes place in a MMO game called “The World V2”. The series is part a huge multimedia franchise the .Hack series.
The game simulates itself like World Of Warcraft and Heroes online. Players are procedurally generated like the levels in the game.
In the game you play as Haseo, an adept rogue character. You also have teammates from other classes as well, like the Harvest Cleric which focuses on healing and magic. There are also two types of species in the game, humans and beasts, referred to as furries.
The game has a lot of unique models relating to the respective character class.
As the game simulates a MMO, there is a variety of guilds in the game which serves as either allies or foes. You can purchase special items from these guilds.
You can trade items for other players and your teammates to get different items so that can be useful. Giving gifts can be a way to improve your relationship with your party members.
The graphics are good but they look dated and the visuals are weak, and low textures often show in the world. Throughout volumes one and two, there are new cities to explore and your guild is moved to a different city in each game. Each city represents the status level of the player, from beginner to expert.
The game environment looks and feels very basic and you can tell that this is an old game. Buildings all look like cardboard cutout design. There was no dynamic day or night cycle either in order to show the passing of time. However, the remastered version has made the design of the world clearer at least. The anime art style is decent and it goes well with the mixture of fantasy and steampunk. The main character designs look to be quite fine and each character in the game does have their own unique look. The in-game animation looks pretty dated while the Combat is adequate.
The remastered version allows you to deal more damage to enemies and gain more XP unlike the original game. Enemies are leveled depending on the word combination of the dungeon. The higher they are, the harder they are to defeat. As you progress, you are likelier to get much better weapons and equipment. Each game in the collection also makes adjustments to combat such as being able to move your broad sword while charging at enemies. Haseo gets upgraded after each game and becomes more powerful with enhanced abilites, and new equipment. There is a wide range of selection of weapons to use and each weapon gives you a different ability. You can avoid combat entirely in the game as there is a detection meter which means if you are caught you will be put into a fight.
Alchemy is a useful trick if you want to upgrade your equipment for your friends and yourself by having one or another similar item to use, to raise the status of the selected item you are alchemizing.
For quick travel through locations you can ride your bike in either cities or outdoor dungeons and you can customize it so you can add a special ability, or upgrade its stats such as armor or speed. The controls of the bike take time to gettting used to.
You are also the head of your own guild called “Cannard” and you can rise through the ranks by doing various activities and actions in the game. Once you reach a certain quota that matches the current or higher rank you are in, you will be moved up in class. You can then be able to expand your guild and unlock various advantages that will help you throughout the game. You can PVP other players in the game. This enables you to rise up the ranks to become the Emperor. If you save a player from being killed, you will be rewarded with coupons to use in guild stores. Coupons can be used for either combat or restoration.
The main character Haseo is unlikeable. He comes off as a jerk and punk as he treats his friends like crap. Whenever he gets powerful, he treats it with arrogance and is often reckless with it. Other characters like Gaspard and Silabus were ok.
The game is very long and seems as if the same action sequences are replayed. These rehashed battles are just filler to pad the game. This also diverts the game from its main story line. There are some interesting aspects to the game. Simulated in game MMO is neat. Also fighting an in-game virus called “AIDA” that could lead to a disaster all over the internet was good.
Voice acting in the game is generally ok. Each character’s voice made them feel believable. Locations in the game are made up of password system of 3 words and you can explore countless of them by creating many different word combos. Each dungeon’s location and objective will be different depending on the word combination it uses. This allows you to experiment with each word in the English vocabulary.
In Dungeons, Chim Chims are used to access doors and you can hold up 999 Chim Chims in the remastered version of the game. Chim Chims are also used to power up mecha grunties: mini robot pigs that are scattered in each dungeon you visit.
Treasures are leveled so you may be able to find a really rare gem or an item of little value depending on the level you are in.
There are a variety of abilities you can choose for each weapon. After performing a string of combos, you can unleash a “rengeki” which is a much more powerful attack on enemies. To strike a rengeki, you must perform a string of successful combos and when the enemy flashes purple for a few seconds, you strike. Each button you press has a different ability that you assigned but keep in mind this costs SP points which is what is used to recharge each characters’ own abilities. You can recharge it through health items in case you ever run out.
Morale is increased by using rengenki, giving items or combos. The higher the affection of your teammates the more powerful awakening attacks are. You can raise the morale of your teammates by giving them healing items or by doing well in combat so you can fill up the bar to utilize an awakening. You can select the type of powerful awakening attacks for your party focusing on either healing or dealing heavy damage.
There is also the ability to change the battle style of your teammates as part of the strategy of fighting enemies. Freewill is where the selected teammate uses a variety of abilities without being limited to just one set of attacks.
Avatar battles are another thing you can do in the game but in the main storyline only. It’s you vs a another avatar or in game virus where you fight them until their health bar is drained. Then you use a data drain to make sure that they are defeated for good. After you have defeated one, you can be able to replay them again once you collect the enemies’ information. Avatar battles, despite each avatar being unique does get repetitive after a while.
Lucky animals are fast moving animals that will give you a blessing like increased amount of in game money, or they can help you through 5 battles by causing huge amounts of damage to enemies. There are also the opposite called “unlucky” animals which gives you a curse and you can’t get rid of them until you leave the level.
You can be able to take on quests in the game such as stopping a rampaging robot created by a mad scientist. You can go on quests alone or bring along your teammates. Throughout the 3 games, there are not much variation in the quests. There are a few side activities such as kicking Chim Chims or lucky animals for research that are part of reaching the guild-master quota in the game. Completing a certain amount of them will give you a reward for your efforts. But once you complete them you will get a special quest and also an even bigger reward for completing all objectives.
There is a lot of replay value in the game and even after finishing the first 3 games there are still lots of stuff to do.
A new feature called cheat mode is where you are given the best weapons and abilities and then you are elevated to a god like status in the game. You level up even faster too. As a bonus the videos from “The End of the World” Terminal Disc included with the limited edition PS2 release of Volume 1 are included in the collection.
Parody mode in this game is a self-depreciating gameplay mode where the game makes fun of itself. The musical score of the game is ok and it had a nice mellow sound for the background music. The game has a save data transfer so the data and stuff you did in the previous game can be carried over to the next game as well. This feature is quite useful and its similar to the save data transfer the Mass Effect Series has.
You can read forums that are related to gameplay of the world which can give you hints and access to new locations. There is even the chance for you to download in game artwork through the forums you visit as well. Emails are sent to you periodically from characters in the game and you can also get to know more about them personally on what their interests are in the real world. Which helps raise their affection for you.
Greeting cards can be used to raise your comrades’ affection for you. You get them after completing a certain number of objectives like collecting weapons or opening treasure. This also provides an opportunity to get to know the characters personal lives outside of gaming. The world also has a website as well explaining the lore of the in-game universe and also tips on how to play the game.
There is also a trading card game that is kind of like Yu Gi Oh where you can collect cards. create decks and place them to battle with other players. It can be used as a time passer. You can even change the in-game desktop background and background music that is playing there as well. So that feature does seem interesting.
On a side note for the in-game news, it subtly mocks the whole “Video games are responsible for real life violence.” As you go through the game you can unlock the pre-rendered cinematic cutscenes for certain parts of each game to view through your favorite moments.
The game has quite the number of shortcomings in it.
The dungeon variety in this game is very limited. The objectives are very repetitive and there are no other objectives in the game for dungeons other than reaching the end, collecting symbols, or defeating a boss. I had a lot of odd pop ups of the loading screen appear whenever I was visiting a town. It was short but this happened to be random and annoying. A couple of characters in my party, PI and Kuhn had their SP points was draining by 1 slowly. This was a glitch but not a major one.
Each game even though it is a sequel, feels like you are playing the same game. Even in Vol 4, the newest addition made for the remastered collection still feels like you are playing the same game. Vol 4 is really restrictive and it does not have much replay value. It’s even shorter than the the previous 3 games. Many of the side activities such as finding Mecha Grunties or kicking Chim Chims for research are gone too, along with the desktop features as well.
The game has a lot of backtracking in it and you often have to go back and forth to NPCS and logging off online in order to progress through objectives in the game.
In conclusion it is a decent in game despite its shortcomings.
3 stars is what I have to give it.
If you really like JRPGS, you could give this a try.