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.hack//G.U. Last Recode
Score: 93%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: Cyber Connect2
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
Youíve probably heard of the .hack series before. It consists of anime, novels, manga, and games! The new .hack // G.U. Last Recode is actually many games in one. Itís a collection containing .hack//G.U. Vol. 1 // Rebirth, .hack//G.U. Vol. 2 // Reminisce, .hack//G.U. Vol. 3 // Redemption, .hack//G.U. Vol. 4 // Reconnection, a Terminal Disc, and even a Parody Mode. As you might guess, this means you have a LOT of story hours to play.

If youíve played these games before, youíll probably notice how much better the graphics look now. All of the games have been digitally remastered and overall, it looks beautiful. If you start to look closely, youíll notice little things, like the characterís mouths only move in close up cut-scenes, not when theyíre just talking in-game. Itís a bit disconcerting, but you get used to it quickly. You have to remember these were originally PS2 games that have been remastered. They look beautiful now, but there are little things, like mouth movement, that give away their origins. Luckily, those things are few and far between! I like that you can change your background in the Mine OS. Itís a little thing, but itís nice. They took great care to notice and touch up as many little things as possible.

You can choose to play in either English or Japanese. Itís a matter of personal preference, as in both the voicework is very well done and you will get subtitles either way. The music is also very well done. Youíll enjoy it in the background while you are playing and fighting. Overall, the audio gives the game a finished and polished feeling.

Personally, I would recommend you start in order, simply because the stories follow each other, but itís up to you! If you donít play them in order, you will most definitely get spoilers because each game recaps the one before it when you start. In .hack//G.U. Vol 1 // Rebirth, youíll start out playing as Haseo, a new player to The World. Heís just started playing The World and on his first login, he meets two people who show him the ropes. The World is an online game where players do missions, kill monsters, collect treasures, and such. Unfortunately, they also show him that in The World, there are also PKs, Player Killers. These are people who enjoy killing other players in-game.

Eight months after that first death, we see a whole new Haseo, one nicknamed the Terror of Death. Heís become a PKK, Player Killer Killer. He hunts down all those Player Killers and shuts them down. Heís hunting down a PK called Tri-Edge, who killed his friend Shino in-game and somehow the real-life Shino has been in a coma ever since. Haseo wants to kill Tri-Edge in-game to see if it will bring Shino out of her coma. Ovan tells him when and where he can find Tri-Edge, so of course, Haseo goes. After a losing battle with Tri-Edge, he finds himself back in the real world and his account has been reformatted. Even all his old emails are gone. If he chooses to go back into The World, he has to start all over. Even his member list has been reset. He runs into Gaspard and Silabus, who assume he is a noob because of his level and volunteer to teach him how to play. Haseo has a long way to go before he can rescue Shino and hunt down Tri-Edge!

You will see quite a number of returning players in the sequential games, as they all follow one another. Iím not going to go through them all simply because I want to avoid spoilers, even for a game that is a remaster. Needless to say, .hack//G.U. Last Recode has an extremely complex and in-depth story. You need to read the forums in the real-world part to get info from other players. You should also check your email and use the other things you can find in the Mine OS. Haseo has a huge destiny in front of him, if you can manage to complete the games. Heís also going to run into a lot of hurt and betrayal, so be prepared for the drama! When you do want a break from the drama, go check out Parody Mode. Itís simply a collection of video clips, but the words have been changed into something humorous.

When you start each game in .hack//G.U. Last Recode, youíll be given the option to play on Normal or Cheat Mode. Cheat Mode is great if you want to just run through the story, but itís recommended you play in the real mode. Since it is an RPG, there is grinding to be done. If you find you are having trouble, just level up a bit before you try and tackle an area. You have Root Towns, fields, dungeons, and areas. Missions are the goals of the area that you need to clear. When you warp to an area, you give the gate three words. These will basically determine difficulty/ types of monsters there. By using the correct words, you can control the difficulty of your game, to a degree. Youíll also see a server symbol on the left where you input the words. Make sure youíre on the server you want to be on. Your warp platform can also be used to heal you once in an area, so keep that in mind if you have trouble.

Once you start a battle, a "battle area" springs up. You canít get out of it until all the enemies are defeated, so thereís no running away to heal and coming back to finish the job. You can leave the battle if you have a smoke screen to use, so you might want to keep some handy, just in case. If you die, you get a Game Over and a return to the title screen. There is no convenient warp back to town on death. This not being able to exit a battle can be frustrating, but itís also nice to find games that arenít overly easy.

Game Mechanics:
The controls are pretty easy in get the hang of in .hack//G.U. Last Recode and you will find it is the same controls across all four volumes. They do an excellent job of explaining how things work at the beginning of Vol 1, so once again, I recommend you start at the beginning! (Triangle) will bring up your Menu. Here you can do all sorts of things, like arrange your party, set skills, use items, and more. You can only add people to your party if you know their address and if they are online. Remember, you are inside The World game when youíre setting up a party and such. Save at the appropriately named Save Shop. Youíll find it in the same room as the Chaos Gate, which you will use to start adventures. You can also save from the Data Manager in the Mine OS. (Touchpad) brings up the area map. I do love maps! This one will show you the layout of the area, plus locations you might need to know on it.

When you get into battle, (X) attacks. Hold down (X) and release when the gauge is full to do a charge attack. These are more powerful, but take a bit longer to execute. Pressing (O) will block. (R1) lets you check out the Skill Trigger Menu. After pressing (R1), you then select the button that corresponds to the skill that you want to use. If you watch, you will see that after repeated attacks, a purple and blue ring pops up around an enemy. Use a skill attack then and you will do Rengeki, which will give you a lot more damage. You can only use skills when the skill gauge is full, so use them wisely.

The .hack//G.U. Last Recode games will keep you entertained for hours. If youíve already played them, I am sure it has been a while, so theyíll probably feel like new again, especially with everything that they have remastered. If youíve never played the series, I highly recommend you check it out. This is an amazing tale that will keep you playing endlessly to try and find out what happens next. I highly recommend that you go pick up .hack//G.U. Last Recode today!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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