.hack//G.U. Vol. 2: Reminisce (PS2) Review

Developer: CyberConnect2 Corp / Publisher: Namco Bandai Games || Overall – 8.5/10

Continuing its engrossing story from the first volume, .hack//G.U. 2: Reminisce is the second in the .hack//G.U. trilogy. Acting more as a bridge between the beginning and the end of the saga, it makes sense that by the time you complete the game you’ll be left wanting more. If you made it so far as to finish the first game, you’ll want to dive in head-first after the almost-too-long wait for the sequel.

Reminisce is a great continuance of the adventure laid out in the first .hack//G.U. There are some story elements that will answer questions, while new ones will be raised in their stead. What you once thought to be Haseo’s ultimate goal turns out to be something completely different. Without spoiling too much of the story, all I can say is that even though you may have defeated Tri-Edge in the first game, think again if you believe he’s actually gone for good.

The gameplay is virtually the same as the first volume. However, there are slight improvements that alleviate some of the annoyances in the first game. First, there is the Skill Trigger, which allows you to change from Haseo’s currently equipped weapon to another weapon, depending on the skill you have equipped. The only thing bad about it is that you may not be able to use as many of the skills for a particular weapon as you may like. You can only ultimately equip 4 skills, leaving you to basically equip one skill for each weapon and an extra one that you like. With Volume 2, A new Awakening is available called Divine Awakening which allows you to time hits correctly using the power of your teammates and throw a concentrated burst of energy down on your enemies for a massive amount of damage. It’s quite different from any of the Awakenings that were present in the first game, and it is a welcome change to the gameplay.

As you progress through the game, new and stronger weapons will be available. This game allows you to go up to Level 100, as opposed to the first which only let you go up to Level 50. There is also a whole new arena to take part in, so you’ll be on the warpath for a little bit of the game. This time around, it’s not as huge a part of the story as the first was. The game packs a lot of drama and shows the first effects of what uncontrolled AIDA will do to The World, which is amplified to near anarchy near the end of the game.

Practically all the production values have been carried over from the first game. As I said in the review of the first game, they are very impressive in the way that the game almost literally looks like a 3D anime. Not only is the game presented as such, but the game’s structure itself is actually laid out as if you’re playing through episodes of an anime, a little chunk at a time. Many of the CG movies are noticeably better than the in-game graphics (especially because of the lighting they use), but it keeps the same style going. The CG movies are fantastic — they portray The World in such a distinctive way not possible through in-game graphics, and just like a little 10 year old boy, I’m actually excited when I get to watch one of the movies.

Obviously, those that had tried out the first game and disliked it will most likely not enjoy the second volume of .hack//G.U. Though, for someone that really enjoys the game, it is a worthy sequel to an already pretty solid game. As the story is the main reason to play the game, the gameplay still needs a little bit of a reworking before there can be a killer game in the .hack series. While the gameplay feels ultimately mediocre, the additions to it in .hack//G.U. 2 does make it a bit more interesting. In the end, .hack//G.U. 2 can really be summarized as more of Volume 1 with minimal changes to the way it plays. .hack//G.U. 2 is simply a progression of the story, with a lot more AIDA battles.

Fans of the first game who are engrossed in the story and enjoy the gameplay well enough to keep going with it will find an immensely enjoyable game. Now that Volume 3 has finally been released (this time only a few months after the last volume’s release), Volume 2 is a vital part of the .hack//G.U. trilogy that should not be missed. Though the game doesn’t have many noticeable improvements over the first, it is still a worthy purchase or, at the very least, a playthrough.

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