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Developer:
CyberConnect2
Publisher: Bandai
Platform: Playstation 2
Release Date: January 13, 2003

by Ronald Wartow




Backdrop

After playing three games spread over a full year, .hack enthusiasts breathless to discover what finally happens to Kite, Orca, the others, and the world can breathe a sign of relief. .hack Part 4 Quarantine, the end of the saga, has just been released. Other than to reveal that all questions will be answered, this review contains absolutely no spoilers. Ruining the dynamic conclusion to the compelling .hack story would be unforgivable.


I cannot emphasize enough that this game should not be attempted without bringing over a leveled-up character from Part 3. Though a player may play this game with no prior .hack experience, the time it takes to come up to speed is not only daunting, but frankly a bit frustrating. Once more, there is no ingame tutorial, the briefest of story background, and a bare-bones manual. For background on the series, see the Reviews Section of this site for the .hack Part 1 Infection and .hack Part 2 Mutation reviews, and this issue’s .hack Part 3 Outbreak review.


Gameplay

The familiar gameplay persists with a few innovative twists thrown in for good measure. (Some may be annoyed at the immediate requirement to scour the servers for Virus Cores, since Gate Hacking has been the exception rather than the norm.) Look forward to recruiting new adventurers to participate in the quest, the identities of some quite surprising. Confront severely augmented monsters and bosses. Along with tougher monsters and greater challenges come high character leveling, and the ultimate in weapons, armor, and special items. There’s a new Data Drain ability, a fun, lengthy Item Collection side quest, and other diversions, special larger dungeons, the ever-present new server and town, the well-known Grunties to cultivate and ride, and nifty new wallpapers, music and sounds.


Because of the higher difficulty, Part 4 took me the longest of any of the games, about 22 hours. Quarantine includes the finale of the anime DVD’s that have become a helpful source of background, clues, and unlockables that have accompanied each game.


I expect this review will be perused only by those dedicated .hack players who have completed all or some the prior games, and viewed as “preaching to the choir”. As such, I will refrain from addressing criticisms of the series not shared by me. Refer to the reviews of the first two games if this topic interests you.


Bottom Line

.hack is now over. I will miss my eager anticipation of the games as they were released a few months apart. I thoroughly enjoyed the four games, primarily for the riveting and alarming story about characters to which I became attached, and absorbing gameplay. So, consistent to the end, I evaluate Part 4 exactly the same as the others.


Final Grade: 87%




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