samskivert: .hack – PS2 (2)

18 March 2003

I like the concept: you’re a kid living in the future playing this hugely popular MMP which, of course, involves advanced technology like a fully immersive neural interface and fully expressive characters. Something goes awry and a bug or virus in the game causes your friend to go into a coma. You, fearless or stupid, continue playing to try to further understand what happened to your friend and, in the process, become a critical element in some greater, unfolding drama. The graphics were good enough to keep me entertained, but a few fatal flaws left me without the resolve to continue playing.

Foremost is that you can only save when you’re in town, which means that if you spend two hours getting to the bottom of a long and marginally entertaining dungeon only to die fighting the boss at the bottom, you have to do the whole damned thing over again and any levels you gained or items you found along the way are entirely lost.

Second, I found the party battle mechanics to be clumsy and annoying. I spend most of my time fiddling around trying to get my weaker mage character not to go wandering up next to the monsters where he’d get the crap beat out of him and essentially micro-managing my group of three characters. Fighting by myself was much more satisfying and fluid, but is not a viable option for the harder dungeons.

Finally, I really don’t like the notion of leveling up and being limited not by my own skill, but by the amount of time I’ve spent wandering around whacking monsters and finding more powerful items. While apparently other RPGs make you do even more of this, my tolerance for such tedium is low, especially when I don’t find the basic battle mechanic to be altogether that fun.

©1999–2015 Michael Bayne