Lengthy cutscenes, repetitive dungeons, and a general sense that Namco Bandai was drip feeding us one complete game split into three volumes, undermined our enjoyment of .hack//G.U. vol. 1: Rebirth. Over six months have passed since that game released, and fans who've been patiently waiting for .hack//G.U. vol. 2: Reminisce may be disappointed with this tardy and underwhelming follow up that offers too much of the same.
Reminisce continues to follow the story of Haseo and his investigation of AIDA, a deadly virus responsible for putting players of a futuristic MMORPG, "The World," into real life comas. The intriguing cyberpunk infused premise - which charges you with playing a game about a character that’s playing a game - has always been .hack//G.U.’s strongest point. From your in-game desktop, you'll respond to emails, troll forums, check the news, and log into ‘The World’ as you play the role of an online gum shoe.
But the predictable and disappointing list of "seconds" in volume two muddies Reminisce’s otherwise unique presentation. Expect to see a second Root Town, a second Guild Hall, a second shop for upgrading your steam bike, and a second job extension for Haseo. While you’re at it, expect to wonder why these miniscule additions couldn’t have just been added to the first volume.
Fans of the various .hack anime series and manga should be pleased with the addition of the "Crimson VS" card game to your desktop. You’ll start with a small collection of cards, featuring characters and monsters from the .hack//Sign and .hack//Roots anime shows. As you win matches, you’ll receive more powerful and rare cards to add to your collection. Unfortunately, there’s little player interaction with the card game, as all matches are played out automatically.
The highlight of the game’s new features is Haseo’s second job extension, which grants him the power to change weapons during combat on the fly. Once acquired, you can shred up enemies with your giant scythe one second, before carving through your foes with an over-sized chainsaw sword the next. This new ability adds some much needed depth to the game’s X button mashing battles, but again, you’ll wonder why this feature couldn’t have just been included in the first volume.
The third and final volume of the .hack//G.U. series has already been released in Japan under the title Aruku Youna Hayasa de, and if Namco Bandai takes the same amount of time to bring the title to the States as it did with Reminisce, you can expect see it in stores around November of 2007 - approximately one year after the release of the original. For now, only self-proclaimed "dot-hackers" should consider picking up Reminisce for its wealth of references and insights into the anime and manga series. We hope that Namco Bandai considers releasing one complete game, instead of breaking it up into several underwhelming chunks, should they ever revisit the .hack universe.