.hack//G.U. Volume 3: Redemption

Playstation 2

Reviewed: 09/08/2007

Haseo and friends have fought against Tri-Edge, AIDA, and a myriad of other opponents for two volumes now. Along the way, Haseo has grown and evolved in more ways than simple character level and strength. Now, finally, .hack//G.U. Vol. 3//Redemption brings the last chapter of this storyline. One important note is that though each title in the G.U. subseries remains self-contained to a degree, the ongoing storyline is large enough to greatly discourage new players from starting with Redemption instead of at the beginning.

As in Reminisce, the game mechanics have once again received a few tweaks, and the most notable of these is the re-introduction of virus cores. While these may have made some parts of the last subseries, particularly Quarantine, a bit of a pain, several changes have been made to make them far more user-friendly this time around. First of all, they are entirely optional and are used primarily to upgrade Lost Weapons. Additionally, there is only one type of core now, so players are no longer required to find the right type of monster on the right server, and data draining is tied into a new type of Awakening rather than Haseo needing to get enemies into Protect Break.

There are several other additions as well. New items called “cheat codes” allow equipment with a rarity of five, with the exception of Lost Weapons, to be upgraded. Once a character becomes especially proficient with a particular weapon, they will receive that weapon’s ultimate skill which will decrease in cost as the character becomes increasingly proficient. As the storyline progresses, Haseo will gain access to another weapon for his ever-increasing arsenal, along with the ability to dash in battle and follow up skills with a special additional skill. Despite these many tweaks, the largest area that needs improvement, the monotonous dungeons, have sadly received very little aside from the addition of a few new types. The battle system has become more enjoyable, but battles aren’t fun enough to make up for the dungeons, especially since each area typically has very little variety in enemies. On the plus side, many longer dungeons offer save points as an added convenience.

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Data Drain

One other matter that continues to offer a bit of a problem is that a character’s level is still the most important factor in battle, though this is thankfully toned down a lot in player vs player battles. When facing an enemy that is too strong or too weak, the damage that a character takes or gives increases massively. Due to the high level limit and rate that members grow when outside of the main party, it is likely that many characters will become useless unless Haseo goes out of his way to train them. The game as a whole is quite easy, but this sort of thing can make a few parts unbalanced.

The interface remains much the same as in past volumes, but it too has had a bit of an upgrade. A useful feature that allows excess items to be sold while in storage has been added. This makes past problems with inventory space less of an issue since it’s very likely that Haseo’s guild rank will be high enough to allow storage to be accessed while in dungeons. Some of the controls aren’t tight, and it can occasionally be a pain to give party members new equipment and items for customization in order to make sure that they’re in good shape at all times, but the interface as a whole is decent overall.

Despite the aforementioned upgrades, all three volumes share similar game mechanics, and the same can be said for the way the storyline is written as well. Redemption consequently shares many similarities with the previous two volumes, such as basing large parts of the storyline around an arena tournament, but unlike in previous volumes, there have been some upgrades here this time around as well. The end result is not only more original, it is also a marked improvement over the previous two volumes thanks to some new twists and original content. One particularly nice improvement is a steep decline in dungeons suggested by party members for the sole purpose of leveling up; allies will still occasionally suggest that Haseo join them for quests and whatnot, but these are tied into the story this time around.

Another nice feature is that Redemption has a large number of extras. While not all of these will appeal to everyone, such as the one hundred floor dungeon, there are several that allow new characters to be recruited, special events that include previously or newly recruited characters, or even tack on a bit to the story. The story and characters are well fleshed-out as it is, so these are really more of a bonus, but they’re still typically pretty interesting. It will only take about twenty-five to thirty hours to finish the storyline, but these extras can easily double that.

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Haseo adds double machine guns to his collection of wicked knives, chainsawlike broadswords, and giant scythes.

Visually, Redemption is about the same as the other two volumes. This isn’t a bad thing either, as pretty much everything looks good, especially the bosses and cutscenes. Characters will even occasionally animate and show emotion outside of the game’s FMVs as well.

Redemption‘s soundtrack has had numerous new pieces added to it that weren’t present in previous games, many of which are quite good. Unfortunately, it suffers from the same problem the other two volumes had: the best of the music is typically played only once whereas the same tracks that players were overloaded by in earlier volumes remain very common. Thus, despite a number of the tracks being very good, the music as a whole simply isn’t presented very well and brings down the overall quality.

.hack//G.U. Vol. 3//Redemption is similar to the other two volumes in a lot of ways, but it’s more polished and offers some originality that was lacking in Reminisce by mixing up the formula somewhat. Redemption manages to finish off the G.U. subseries on a mostly positive note, but it still has a few problems that haven’t been hammered out and will appeal more to players that are looking for a good story rather than solid gameplay.

-Derek Cavin

Score Breakdown
Very Good
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Below Average
Story Excellent
Graphics Great
Sound/Music Average
Replay Value Bad
The Verdict: 7