Dot Hack Quarantine

Bandai’s original four-part Dot Hack videogame serial saw the release of its four installments in Japan from 2002 to 2003, and in North America from 2003 to 2004, with data transferable between each installment, concluding with Dot Hack Quarantine, which is pretty much on par with its predecessors, in its various aspects a positive and negative thing.

As with before, approaching a swirling yellow portal on fields and their dungeons triggers combat, with the usual strategy as with before of exploiting enemies’ elemental weaknesses being a strong point, the low point being the potential to lose progress if the player dies after advancing far into a dungeon without being able to save the game, although combat definitely helps the game more than hurts.

Interaction is also pretty much the same, with Virus Core hunts being necessary to advance into late-game protected areas, along with the continued inability to change allies’ equipment unless they’re in Kite’s party, as well as the aforementioned inability to save progress outside hub towns, although shopping for new items and the menus aren’t problematic, control ultimately having equivalent good and bad portions.

Story is also on par with the previous entries, which isn’t a good thing, as the narrative remains pretty much confined to The World, with no view of the world outside the game aside from textual newspaper articles and emails from Kite’s allies, which do, as with before, have their share of backstory, the narrative like control having its share of ups and downs.

The aurals are a little better, if recycled from previous games in the franchise, with many areas relying a bit too heavily upon ambience, although the voicework, like before, is almost flawless.

The graphics are also the same, not necessarily a bad thing, with nice environs giving the milieu of a corrupted online game and good character models, the FMVs rounding out the solid visual presentation except for occasional bland textures during environmental close-ups.

Finally, the conclusion is a little longer than its predecessors with the increased need to hunt for Virus Cores, somewhere from ten to twenty hours, with the endless variety of area keywords allowing for limitless replayability.

In the end, Dot Hack Quarantine rounds out the original tetralogy nicely, with pretty much all its aspects being on par with its predecessors, although frugal gamers may question the fact that Bandai could have very easily done all four installments as one games, with certain other RPGs having fifty-hour-plus experiences at the standard cost of a single game, although those that can find the games at a bargain price will likely appreciate the original four-part franchise, definitely one of the stronger anime-based videogame serials.

The Good:
+Solid strategic combat.
+Great voice acting.
+Nice visuals.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-No saving on fields or in dungeons.
-Prepare for a lot of Virus Core hunting.
-Story’s containment to The World hurts more than helps.
-Whole series could have easily been one game.

The Bottom Line:
A decent but flawed conclusion.

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: 10-20 Hours

Overall: 7.5/10

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