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This series is, hands down, one of the most fun gaming series I've ever played. It ranks way up there with series like Lufia, Dragon Warrior, and Final Fantasy. The fact that this is more like an action/RPG rather than one involving random encounters just makes it all the more enjoyable, and all the easier to play multiple times. I have played the games in this series for hundreds of hours, despite each of them being beatable in less than 15-20 hours, without even considering the idea of boredom. If you are even the slightest fan of RPGs of any type, you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to play these games. Just make sure you refer to paragraph 2 of this review before you do so.
With the end of the .hack series in sight, I enjoyed Outbreak. I rate the game just like the others: 87%. The absorbing plot and compelling gameplay held my interest the whole time. But, please remember, this rating is based on playing the game with a character that completed Mutation.
While it's true that the .hack series is already showing its age due to the frequency of its follow-ups, this third edition is still a quality RPG. Despite the fact that expectations and criticisms continue to mount as time goes on, OUTBREAK manages to accomplish everything it sets out to do: which is to simply entertain its fans and make a lot of money while doing so.
Overall .hack//Outbreak is a fine game with great ideas and a vision for how the world wide network of the future could be, along with the games that could be out there. Everything works well and holds together as a whole, let down solely by being part of a tight group of games, released in sequence, requiring understanding of that which has gone before.
When all is said and done, though, .hack//Outbreak is a pleasing addition to the story. While the plot does advance quite a bit, Bandai got a little sloppy with some of the threads, and you get the sense that they fell in love too much with the idea of a cliffhanger. It is relieving, particularly after the endings of Infection and Mutation, to see that while you end the game on a tentative note, you feel like you’ve made legitimate progress and didn’t make the world worse in the process. Newcomers to the series will, invariably, feel dissatisfied because they will feel like they’ve missed a huge chunk of story. Well, considering that there is an entire anime series and two video games that came before it, yeah, obviously they did.
The .hack series is a heck of a lot of fun, and Outbreak does a great job in continuing the story. The added AI changes make it more challenging, but also allow you to focus more on battles vs. party health all the time, which is a plus. While the whole idea of an RPG that revolves around people playing an RPG may sound a little strange, Bandai has done a good job in making a series that captures a lot of the fun of an online MMORPG in an offline environment. If you’re looking for a good RPG series to fill your time for a while, .hack is one that I would recommend.
While I did enjoy Outbreak I can't get over the fact that the whole production seems completely padded out. There isn't any real purpose for the story being split into four separate chapters, it ultimately feels like they just took a large game and split it into quarters to make more money. It's not that Outbreak is a bad game, or that DH is a bad series, it is enjoyable — it's just that when you add everything up, it's hard not to feel cheated by the price they're asking. If you've purchased and enjoyed Infection and Mutation, chances are you'll love this game every bit as much as the other two. However, if you've found your patience for the series waning since half way through the first game there's a good chance you'll still be disappointed. I do recommend this series, highly if you're already a fan, I just don't agree with the price point they've decided upon and as such reflected that in my final score.
In the end, Outbreak exceeds expectations. Silly quests, dull battles, a new brigade of stupid characters, a non-existent ending, and a lack of quality overall were expected from this game. Fans will be met with only a small amount of some of those things, and no such diappointments in other said departments. Most things worked out in this volume, and Quarantine will be something to see.
The whole is, however, much greater than the sum. .hack is not a game that's enjoyable to watch; it is enjoyable to play. It is, quite honestly, zone gaming, as most hack-and-slash is—repetitive and rhythmic. Any revolutions .hack is responsible for are solely of the story variety. However, they're glorious revolutions. Were .hack to feature more interesting, engaging gameplay, it would be the closest thing to a perfect game.
Overall I don’t think I can say anything in this review to convince either a fan to give up the series or a non-believer to take up the habit. If you want to know how it all pans out then please carry on, if not then you may find much more rewarding (and certainly cost effective) offerings. It’s a slightly missed opportunity for me, a good concept allowed to become a familiar rehash of existing gameplay
Et hop un point de moins pour ce troisième épisode qui tout comme Mutation n'apporte qu'une ou deux nouveautés noyées sous un flot de divers petits problèmes. Le scénario stagne trop, se veut plus ambitieux qu'il ne l'est vraiment et on souffle plus qu'on ne prend du plaisir en jouant à ce titre. Ceci étant, Dot Hack // Outbreak dispose de quelques atouts sympathiques, d'un univers intéressant et de personnages au design soigné. Mais bon dieu, quelle honte de scinder en quatre, un jeu qui aurait tenu sur un DVD, et qu'on ne me parle pas du prétendu cadeau en la présence des OAV de Liminality !
I'm still enjoying .hack. I love the story, I love the characters. I even still like the gameplay, repetitive as it may be. I'm becoming frustrated, though, by the lack of upgrades and improvements from chapter to chapter. With each volume taking less than twenty hours, .hack will probably end up offering less gameplay in four volumes than Sony's Dark Cloud 2 packed on one disc. The developers may have bitten off more than they can chew; the serial format is proving to be more of a minus than a plus as .hack rolls towards its (admittedly, fascinating) conclusion.
Even with the additional sidequests, Outbreak can be defeated in less than 20 hours, although completionists might want to spend the extra time either racing Grunties or attempting to find the ghosts of all of the .hack//Sign characters. For others, this game should be a reminder to wait for the series in box-set form. It would be wise for Bandai to do this, because despite the large promises laid by the .hack series, it has been nothing but an incredible outbreak of outrage for the gamers that have picked up the titles near their release dates.
.hack//Outbreak is both the best and worst game in the quadrilogy thus far. The story it provides easily outpaces the first two games, but at the same time, the already poor gameplay has taken a turn for the worse, and that is a rather astounding feat. By the time Outbreak is over, most players should be looking at a total playtime of roughly fifty hours between the three games, which is quite low and serves to showcase the brevity of the series. Hopefully the final installment can bring things back into line and conclude the series in on a more positive note.