.hack//G.U. Vol. 2//Reminisce - Staff Review  

The Truth
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

25-50 Hours


Rating definitions 

   It's been a surprisingly long amount of time since .hack//G.U. Vol. 1: Rebirth was released, and players will finally have a chance to find out what happens to Haseo and his allies next. Unlike the previous .hack subseries, volumes of G.U. seem to be far more self-contained. .hack//G.U. Vol. 2//Reminisce is no exception, though it can't quite stand on its own to the degree that Rebirth could, and it's advised that newcomers still start at the beginning of G.U. before moving on to Reminisce. It certainly doesn't hurt to have knowledge of the rest of the series, but it really isn't required.

   Despite the significant note that each volume is more self-contained this time around, the G.U. subseries shares one major trait with its predecessor: each volume makes only minor tweaks to the overall formula set forth by volume one of its respective subseries. Tweaks and upgrades include a few changes that have been made to the battle system, party members now chase after creatures known as Chim Chims, upgrades to the bike that make it more controllable, a number of new area designs, save points in one of the longer dungeons, and even an automatic card game has been thrown in. Despite these many small updates, Reminisce is still very similar to Rebirth, both in design and even in how the story is set up, right down to the way the arena tournament is worked in. The only major difference between volumes is that the story has moved on to the next chapter.

At long last, the next chapter of the story will be revealed... At long last, the next chapter of the story will be revealed...

   Reminisce's story may have a similar setup, but is unlikely to disappoint. It further develops the characters introduced in Rebirth, particularly those that weren't members of Haseo's party, and it even introduces a few more. The game also builds on the overarching storyline set up by its predecessors. There are a few minor pacing issues at times, especially when the party needs to collect a Data Seed in order to unlock a new area, but this is, fortunately, nowhere near as intrusive as it was in Quarantine.

   Even with the collection of key items such as Data Seeds and special keys, bike missions, and minigames, most of that content is optional, so players can focus on the storyline if they wish. Most players will be able to finish in about twenty-five hours if they ignore that sort of thing, but those looking to get their money's worth can easily spend twice as long playing. There are even some extra quests and powerful enemies to take on if the main game wasn't enough.

   There may have been an increase in powerful enemies, but Haseo has been given a few new tricks to deal with them. In addition to the weapons he can already use, he will now be able to equip scythes. Furthermore, he will also gain the ability to switch weapons very quickly and without using the main menu. Being able to swiftly chain attacks from all three weapons together adds fluidity for those that switched weapons a lot in the past and variety for those who didn't. Even the secondary battle system that is only activated under certain conditions has received a few upgrades. Unfortunately, the AI of Haseo's teammates is still surprisingly limited. There are still only a few settings, and they're often far more limited that most are likely to desire.

There are a few neat new areas too. There are a few neat new areas too.

   One other problem is that character level is far too much of a factor for the game to have a consistent difficulty level. For example, if two party members are only a few levels apart and are hit by the exact same attack, it's entirely possible for the lower level member to receive over ten times as much damage. This goes the other way as well, so it's easy for anyone having a hard time to gain a very strong upper hand by simply gaining a few levels. Fortunately, this severe imbalance seems to have been greatly toned down or done away with entirely in player versus player matches, so a number of the game's important story battles have far better balance than they did in Rebirth.

   Aesthetically, Reminisce is pretty nice, particularly with regard to its visuals. Character and enemy models are detailed, facial expressions are a nice touch, and cutscenes are generally quite impressive. Dungeon design is the only part that seems bland by comparison, but towns and the few areas that have unique designs, the Lost Grounds, are typically far more majestic.

   Although all of the area background music present in Rebirth remains unchanged, many of the required areas are of the new variety, and thus have different music. These tracks can still get old pretty quickly, especially those that players have heard before, but this is balanced out by a number of impressive tracks present in cutscenes and in Lost Grounds.

   Returning players will find basically the same thing they found in Rebirth, aside from a few gameplay improvements and tweaks. The gameplay can still get a bit dull at times, despite these changes, but the story does a good job of building on what was set up in Rebirth and the series' ongoing lore. Newcomers are probably better off playing the first one, simply because the changes aren't large enough to skip a huge chunk of the story for. Either way, those looking for a good story and don't mind gameplay that lags a bit at times will likely enjoy .hack//G.U. Vol. 2//Reminisce.

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