Developed by: CyberConnect2
Published by: Bandai Games
US Release Date: January 4th, 2004
Platform: Playstation 2
.hack//Quarantine is the fourth and final installment of the .hack game series. This review will cover Part 4 and should give a good general cover of all information for all 4 games. Also, this will be the last time I review something with this current format. I actually started these .hack reviews just to post on a Forum to see if I could get any feedback. I used the Forum's format and not my own which is why it's more of a generalization without spoilers. But since I did the first 3 games using it, I will use it a final time for the last .hack review. Also, I will not have the “Cast” section in this review. You do not get any new characters and I'm sure my views have been expressed on how I feel about them. And normally there is a “Replay Value” section which I cut and will be placed in the “Closing Thoughts” section.
Quarantine begins with a meeting to figure out how to stop the Cursed Wave from destroying The World and to prevent everything being thrown into chaos. Kite, BlackRose, Helba, Lios, Wiseman, and Balmung gather in the new Omega Server, which is a hacked server created by Helba. Their final option is to manipulate the data of The Wave and develop a vaccine to stop it. Kite must travel to certain sections of The World to measure data fluctuations to determine how to create the vaccine. All of Kite's friends must gather together along with the help of Aura to prevent the Wave and defeat the darkness infecting The World. But as Kite finds out, his bracelet is linked with the monstrous foe, Cubia, and enemy that shares the same fate as the Twilight Bracelet and was created at the same time when Kite received the bracelet. Also, several blackouts are occurring all across the earth including the hospital where Kite's friend Orca is being held. The Wave, Cubia and The World's infection must be halted and beaten if our heroes are to save the lives of all the coma victims and prevent a global shutdown.
|Wiseman feels the power of Optimism|
My Thoughts: Story
Where Outbreak took that step forward with story, Quarantine takes the same step backwards. Apparently the massive story injection from Outbreak was all the background and development offered. So when playing this game, I'm expected to now care about everyone? BULLSHIT. I don't give a smooth fart about any of these characters. How can I? Only one game delivers with any information about ANYTHING. I'm supposed to go off of that?? Fuck that. The idea for Quarantine is simple. Do tedious tasks and beat the bosses. YAWN! This game bored me. The twists they try to throw at you are totally lame, especially IF YOU DON'T GIVE A SHIT. I know I'm going on about this but seriously. Maybe I would be interested in plot twists and turns if I had more story to go off of instead of the sneeze of garbage that was given to me. I mean, this game is literally like 15% story, 85% gameplay. There's no balance. Now I didn't mention Cubia in the last review because his purpose wasn't explained and I knew it would be in this game. And it is FUCKING stupid. “Cubia exists because the bracelet does. They are two sides of the same coin.” So let me get this straight. This is just some monster roaming around for no reason. Seriously, it doesn't explain what it does or what its purpose is. It is just there because the bracelet is. My ankle has never twisted so hard for it is stuck in this plothole.
This is a poor close to a game that started(back with Infection) with some promise. It's too focused in the actual game. I want to see what happens in the actual world that's not in the bullshit Anime DVD. I want to see the consequences and hardships that are happening. I can't honestly believe, that some 8th grade kid is having this dramatic crisis in a video game and then has a normal life outside of it. But we will never know. Oh, and the ending is pretty basic. Beat the last boss and everything is fixed. Yay! WAIT. Hold the phone. Here is the dialogue that ends the game. Lios says, “Is it all over?” then Kite replies with, “No. It's just begun.” What the FUCK does that mean? I mean, in this game the talk about rebirth and things need to die to be reborn, but the way the game ends with THIS, makes it seem like it isn't over. This is HORRIBLE dialogue to end a game. Be ashamed of yourself game, BE ASHAMED!
Exploration: Quarantine is setup as an MMORPG. There are towns, or known in The World as "Root Towns"(the area you go to Save the game, Buy/Sell/Store Items, etc). Root Towns change based on what "Server" you are in. There are 5 Servers in all and Quarantine allows access to 5 of them(all of them).
|Word List from the Chaos Gate|
Here you can access the "Chaos Gates." Chaos Gates are the device in which the player uses to enter a Field(the level you will battle through). They are compiled of a 3 word system. One word decides the difficulty and monster population, one decides the Element(Fire, Water, Thunder, Earth, Light, or Dark) and the other decides the Special Attributes(anything extra in a Field) that the Field will contain. Example, if you are in the Theta Server, then the area would look something like this: Theta - Capricious Unending Corridor. A Word List is also added to keep track of the places you've been and witch areas that are given to you. Quest areas will be marked with a check next to it. Also in the Root Towns, you can interact with various NPCs. By talking to the NPCs, you will get a little dialogue and have the ability to Trade items with them. Fields contain locations known as Dungeons. Each Dungeon holds either Treasure or Bosses.
Gate Hacking: Through out the game, some areas you attempt to enter will be "Protected." Items called "Virus Cores" must be used in order to access these areas. In order to get Virus Cores, you must use Data Drain on enemies. Once the correct amount of Virus Cores are collected, the areas are accessible.
Combat: Quarantine uses a basic system. A character locks on to a target enemy by adjusting the camera angle and getting in close enough proximity. Actions that can be used are Basic Attacks with weapons, Magic, Item selection, or the use of Data Drain(Kite's ability to change the Data of an enemy and transform them into items). Data Drain can be used whenever an enemy is hit enough times(this will be displayed by the words "Protect Break"). Be cautious; if Data Drain is used enough times it can lead to Death.
Quarantine also uses a command for party control. For example, you can select a command to have the entire party use Skills or to Heal. Each character also has its own command control so you can have one character Attack and the other cast Magic. Magic includes Elemental attacks, Heal spells and Buff and Nerf abilities.
Experience and Levels: Quarantine is based on the common RPG leveling system. A player gains levels that increase Stats(Strength, Defense, etc.) by defeating enemies and gaining EXP(Experience Points). Every level is increased by earning 1,000 EXP. Quarantine has a system developed that presets the amount of experience earned based on the character's Level. For example, if your difference in Level compared to the monster is 10 levels higher, then you will earn minimum EXP for defeating that monster. If the difference in your Level compared to the monster is 10 levels lower, then you will earn more EXP.
Stats & Equipment: Quarantine uses the typical stat system you find in most RPGs. You have a stat for Physical Attack, Defense, Physical Accuracy, Magic Attack, Magic Defense, and Magic Accuracy. Also, there is stat to determine your tolerance for the Elements. Characters have Hit Point(HP) which is a measure of health, and SP(Spirit Points) which is a measure of magic use(same as MP). The higher the stat, the better the attack, defense, accuracy, or tolerance characters have in the game. Stats are increased(or decreased) by equipment. Each character can equip a weapon, helmet, armor, glove, and boot. There are also items in the game that will permanently increase your stats. HP and SP are increased based on Level increase.
Desktop: Quarantine features the use of a Desktop. On the Desktop, you can play The World, check e-mails that characters in the game will send you, check News stories detailing random events in the real world, change your background image and music, and save your Game Data. When The World is accessed, you have the choice of either Logging In or checking the "Board." The Board is a Forum in the game that gives hints and details about gameplay, leads you to new areas to explore and discusses random topics. Most of Kite's monologues are showcased while using the Desktop.
FMD Goggles: (FMD = Face Mounted Display)The characters playing in The World, use a headset when they play. It allows them to view everything in a 3D Field and talk to other players in The World. The goggles are attached to a controller which is used to play.
My Thoughts: Gameplay
Thank GOD it is fucking easier than Outbreak. Yes, this game starts off more balanced then Part 3. When I went into my first combat in this game, I didn't cuss at my TV. Enemies were challenging and manageable at the same time. This made combat more involving and more suspenseful then just monsters straight up raping you right our of the gate. So the combat, excellent, the best balance and challenge out of all 4 games. But then there comes one DREADFUL part. Virus Core collecting. There is a part before the end of the game where you need to travel to 4 locations to collect specific Virus Cores to get to the last area. Now collecting those Virus Cores weren't annoying, it was collecting the Virus Cores to access each of the four areas that made me want to shoot myself. See, each server has monsters and each carry virus cores when you Data Drain them. The monsters are categorized by size, small, medium and large(EX: small holds Virus Core A, medium B and large C; letters change depending on server. So I went to the first gate and was missing 3 J cores and 3 G cores. So I had to go to their respected servers and Data Drain monsters. WHICH WAS A PAIN IN THE ASS AND MADE THIS THE WORSE EXPERIENCE OUT OF ALL 4 GAMES. No joke. It was annoying. I was always missing Virus Cores for each area. So I had to go back and get and find the right sized monster to fight, OVER AND OVER. And if I was fucking lucky would a monster turn into a Virus Core. Most of the time they turned into USELESS FUCKING ITEMS. Do you want to know how long it took me to get these Virus Cores and beat the 4 areas? FIVE AND A HALF MOTHER FUCKING HOURS. It was grueling as all hell and made me never want to play this game again.
The graphics are the exact same from Outbreak. Everything looks infected, nothing looks good any more. Even the new Root Town looks like shit staked on shit because it is supposed to be a “Hacker Server.” Oh my, goodie! There were a lot more cinemas in this game, particularly at the end. But even some of the in game cutscenes at the end had the same issue like in all the games. Talking with no mouths moving. I mean, come on. It's the finally game. Why not make the ending one large cutscene? Instead it is sliced between cinema and in game. Totally horrible. It makes it seem like the people designing it were just fucking lazy. Plus, this game series has stretched out from 2003 – 2004. You would think SOME improvements might have been made. But no. It's just cut and paste from Outbreak.
Sound & Music
I am actually rejoicing in means of Sound in this game. Why? Because unless you actually have here in your party, TERAJIMA RYOKO DOES NOT TALK IN THIS ENTIRE GAME! Thank the fucking Gods! She doesn't even have a quest, it was marvelous. As for everything else, guess what? Exactly the same. Nothing new, just the same shit, just like the Graphics. BORING.
Bonus Features Updated
Grunties: The animal and vehicle in Quarantine. They appear to be a mix between a Cow and a Pig. You raise them by collecting "Grunty Food." Grunty Food are found in Fields and Dungeons. Each one you collect will alter the raising cycle of a Grunty. There are various types of Grunty Food and determining on what type of area you are in will decide what type of Grunty Food will appear. When a Grunty is fully raised, you will have the ability to summon them when you are in Fields. They provide for faster travel. If you continue to raise Grunties, they will become NPCs in Root Towns and you can Trade Items with them. You can raise different types of Grunties. When you are on the Field, you can summon a Grunty and have it lead you to Magic Portals, Grunty food or the Dungeon.
Grunty Racing: So I need to make a correction to some previous statements. I thought there was no Grunty Racing until this game. I WAS WRONG. You can actually start Grunt Racing in Mutation. Here is where I got confused. In Mutation, when you get the e-mail, it says, “You can start Grunty Racing once you raise each Grunty in each server.” Now, I took that as ALL the Grunties MUST be raised in order to play Grunty Racing. I did not take it as, “Once you raise all the Grunties IN A SERVER, you can then play.” THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN WORDED. So I'm sorry that I made a mistake regarding this part of the game but it should have been FUCKING CLEARER. So when I FINALLY played it, was it worth the WAIT? Yes and no. Yes, because you get items that boost your Max HP and SP and No because the game gets boring after the first 5 races.
|Desktop Image won from Grunty Racing|
Grunty Racing is a Flag Race. Once you raise all the Grunties IN A SERVER, you can choose one to race around the server collecting 3 flags as fast as possible. It is ranked on a 1st to 3rd place ranking system each giving prizes for based on time. If you get 1st place in each server, then you receive a bonus prize.
Sidequests: The sidequests that Quarantine provide are character based. They are optional and only have the goal of adding a new Party Member to your roster. To obtain the characters, you have to fetch the item that they desire from a location. When a character is recruited, you will be able to accompany them in future quests as the story progresses. These sidequests will result in obtaining special items or equipment. Also, some side quests involve investigating areas to find items or to received items from NPCs in the game.
Images/BGM/Movies: Throughout Quarantine, you have the ability to unlock more Images, BGM and Movies that can viewed from your Desktop.
Ryu Books: There are 8 Ryu Books in Quarantine(Outbreak, Mutation, Infection). They are obtained by using Data Drain a specific amount of times. These books are Key items that collect data, more specifically, the number of times you perform a certain act(ex: Enemies found, trades made, portals opened, levels completed, etc). You can use these Books in Root Towns. By using them, you can unlock Images, BGM and Movies that can be viewed on your Desktop.
E-Mails: Throughout Quarantine, you can communicate with any character you recruited via E-mail on your Desktop. You can reply with three pre-determined messages. You are given three selections: two are replies, based on your feelings on the topic, and the other is No Reply.
Liminality: A Bonus Anime DVD that tells the dramatic conclusion of the four part Anime show(more at the end). Bonus Areas can be found by exploring the Liminality DVD and by watching it.
Continual Play: After you beat Quarantine, you can continue to play and explore the game. Bonus areas are also unlocked upon completing the game. And in Quarantine, special characters are made available upon completion.
My Thoughts: Bonus Features
I was actually shocked that there is continual play after beating this game. After the game is complete, everything is back to normal and free to go any where and do anything. But why? Take my advice, just turn it off when you beat it. Don't do the extra mission, just shut it off. Why? The .hack games are based on the MMORPG format that's simulated. So when you beat the game, it is actually like an MMORPG. You're free just to go around and do anything. Which is great when your are playing a REAL MMORPG, not so great when it is a simulated one. What am I supposed to do? Read the same dialogue and NPC says over and over? Why would anyone fucking do that? They should have just ended the game with no continual play. And then you can save a Data Flag? What, am I going to transfer it to .hack//GU? I played the first GU game. I don't remember transferring data. What the FUCK is the point? Were the developers SO LAZY that they just cut and pasted from the last game? The only plus side to the Bonuses in this game are the new Images you can get. They are more detailed and some look pretty sweet. Aside from that, pretty much the same stuff.
I'm going to be blunt about Quarantine and then just go into the full series. I will never play Quarantine again just for the retard Virus Core collection. FUCK THAT. With that said, the 4 part .hack games overall are actually disappointing. I felt the series started out so great. I liked the premise, the gameplay, the whole idea when playing Infection. But now that I'm at the end of it, this game totally lacked improvements that could have been incorporated with each installment of the game. Better graphics, different places and objects to look at, etc. And the story is just such BULLSHIT. If there is some gigantic, world shattering phenomenon happening WITH A VIDEO GAME, then just pull the plug on the whole thing, wipe out as many hard drives that you have to, and just be done with. “But wait! What about the coma victims?!” Fuck'em. It would be a sacrifice of the few to protect the lives of the many. And I am still not buying Kite in these games. What kind of KID would take on that responsibility? Don't want to be in a coma? STOP PLAYING THE FUCKING GAME. I just want you to imagine this. Kite goes through all this drama, all this hardship, while sitting with a fucking headset, probably in his room, yelling and screaming nonsense. What do think his parents heard when they walked by his room? “I must save Orca and The World! All the people are in comas because of this game I'm playing right now! My own life is at great risk!” Wouldn't you freak the fuck out if you were a parent hearing this? What the fuck is the matter with these people outside the game?? Because of stuff like this, makes this game totally bogus and too unrealistic. I know most games are like that, but you are playing a player that is playing a game. He has his OWN WORLD outside of the game he is playing. So what the fuck is the deal with people? Does Kite have parents? Do they give two shits? We would probably know if you got some insight to Kite and his surroundings outside the game. Shit, even that Mega Man Battle Network game for the GBA shows what happens inside the network and the outside world. If a shitty game like that was able to do it, then so can .hack. I will never play these games again. I have now beaten them twice and that is good enough for me.
|What the FUCK does that MEAN?!|
.hack//Liminality Part 4: Trismegistus
|"We helped too!"|
In the final Anime DVD, we have all the girls from the first 3, Mai Minase, Yuki Aihara and Kyoko Tohno. Teamed up with Junichiro Tokuoka and Ichiro Sato(Helba's contact), they all must break into a CC Corp HQ and steal enough information to take CC Corp to court. Also, they must hack into all systems and rout them to Helba in order to put an end to all the drama once and for all.
My Thoughts: Liminality
This is garbage. It makes no sense. There's not much explained and when it is, it doesn't really translate well back to the game. It's like, they are supposed to be in unison, but they don't feel that way. Basically they break in, fight some security and get home in time for Corn Flakes. Totally lame and the whole DVD thing with the .hack games is just a waste.