Dot Hack Outbreak

Bandai’s Dot Hack videogame series served as a sequel to the anime Dot Hack Sign, seeing its release in both Japan and North America as a four-part serial, with its third entry, Dot Hack Outbreak, seeing its release in the former territory in 2002 and in the latter the following year, providing an experience pretty much on par with its two predecessors.

Aside from the introduction of a skill that allows protagonist Kite to Data Drain enemies with a probable chance of a rare item, the battle system pretty much remains unchanged from the last two entries, with battles beginning whenever the player’s party of three characters approaches a swirling yellow portal. The pros and cons are the same as in the prior to installments, with battles going fast when exploiting elemental weaknesses, although as with before, there is no saving outside town, and playing time can go to waste if the player encounters a tough enemy in the middle of a dungeon and dies. Even so, combat helps the third game more than hurts overall.

The interface and controls are also the same, with the pros being the game’s linear structure and the cons being the difficulty of managing the player’s allies, who must be in the player’s party to receive equipment upgrades, and the aforementioned lack of saving outside town or the operating system is a major con, as well.

The story also doesn’t do a whole lot to advance the primary goal of bringing Kite’s friend Orca and other comatose victim out of their comas, although there is some minor mention of the series’ overall goal, and emails between Kite and his allies provide some backstory to the players behind the characters.

The music remains unchanged, the best track as with before being Harald’s somber theme, but the voice acting, like before, is top-notch.

The graphics are the same as well, expectant of a gaming serial, nicely recreating a buggy MMORPG, with some occasional blurry texturing and no facial variations outside the FMVs, but still look nice overall.

Finally, the third game is short like its predecessors, blazing through it taking somewhere from ten to fifteen hours, the endless variety of dungeon maps providing superb replayability.

In the end, Dot Hack Outbreak is largely on par with its predecessors, featuring quick strategic combat and nice visuals, but it has things going against it such as its controls, story, and unvaried music. Even so, those that liked the prior games will most likely enjoy the third.

The Good:
+Same as previous games.

The Bad:
-Same as previous games.

The Bottom Line:
Those that liked the first two games will like the third.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 5/10
Story: 6/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Medium
Playing Time: 10-15 Hours

Overall: 7.5/10

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