Off to dive into The World for my third playthrough of .Hack//G.U Last recode; this time on the Nintendo Switch. I reviewed this what feels just last year but it was in 2017. What has changed in five years since its last release you ask? To put it simply, not much. Yet again Bandai and Cyberconnect2 have given us not just one remaster but a package deal of three remasters and one new mini epilogue “game” that’s difficult to consider as an epilogue game due to how quickly it can be beaten; roughly 3-4 hours and it’s very linear as “Reconnection” was created as an ending to the installment. The .Hack//G.U series takes place in the far future where we have perfected VR technology to the point you can actually be the character you have created in games. “The World” is the name of the MMO you play in as our titular hero named Haseo.
.Hack//G.U. Last Recode or simply Last Recode allows you to play any of the original games from the G.U. series and either choose the standard story mode or activate “cheat mode” where, if you simply want to replay for the story aspect, you start out at max level and best items equipped. I personally did “cheat mode” just because I didn’t want to grind out anything and just wanted to remember some of the story as I went along. If you’ve never played this series and want to enjoy the combat I recommend playing normally, but if you simply want story elements, do C.M. and just enjoy it.
One thing to keep in mind is that this is a single player MMO-RPG simulator, so when you play the game and party up with characters you don’t get to control them; they are all their own characters in the game. When I say “play” the game I have to also mention that you will also be doing a ton of “watching”, as this series is based on an anime and manga series as well. You’ll be spending a fair bit of time watching cinematics and talking to many NPC characters in-game as well. The cutscenes all look amazing compared to the PS2 days and if the game was a show, I could watch I would certainly do that any day. Last Recode has kept the increased FPS of 60 that was part of the last remaster for PS4 and PC, but there’s only so much that can be improved upon, as background locations still looking pretty lackluster in comparison, I suppose that’s a sacrifice they just had to make since it’s not something in the forefront. Dungeons in Last Recode have about 3-5 varieties during the game all consisting of the same backgrounds of a church, a plain and a few other basic locations. Surprisingly, the Switch has kept up well with all of these improvements and runs the game as well as it did five years ago.
As with the last remaster released, they kept all the previous improvements to all three games regarding the quality of life such as combat has been vastly improved with characters doing more damage, battle speed has been increased and the inventory has been expanded, unlike the original games where you could only hold 30 items it has been upped to 90 pieces of equipment and 90 items as well. With the change from PC and switching to the handheld Switch, I noticed a significant change to the gameplay in regard to blocking, as I was back to having to take a chance on timing just like back in the PS2 days where input lag got you killed pretty much anytime you tried blocking attacks. Combat takes form in you controlling Haseo and only his attacks; the party members you bring along all do their own thing but the A.I does a decent job of knowing what attacks will be effective against enemies. In most MMO games if you lose in battle you had to resurrect at either the entrance to the dungeon or a town and come back and start all over. Thankfully another improvement was the addition of a “retry” option if your whole party is wiped out during battle, saving you some travel time.
The final addition is the fourth volume titled :Resurrection which takes place months after the end of the third game and lasts roughly 3-4 hours. It’s not a remaster but a complete new game created to close out the .Hack/.G.U series once and for all and it follows Haseo returning to “The World”, which is about to be shut down and reunite with some old friends and even encounter new ones, I won’t spoil the premise of Resurrection but as someone who thought the series needed just a little bit of closure this does very well in doing that.
I’ve now played the .Hack//GU series three times and while I’ll always be a fan of the series and understand trying to bring it to more markets with the Switch, there are just too many aspects of these games that don’t translate well to a handheld like the Switch. My biggest complaint at this point is the parts of the game where you must be on the “forums” while playing to scour and search for in-game messages. It pretends to be an online experience without being online and the size of the screen detracts from the experience. If Bandai is going to do another remaster, just let give us the original four games and be done with it.
While I only got the digital edition, Bandai has also released the “Begins Edition”, a physical deluxe version that includes the full game, official soundtrack as well as Manga and artbook. I do miss the days of getting goodies with your physical copy, but I’ll have to make do with digital. It’s more fitting for a game about a virtual online word anyways .Hack//G.U Last Recode released on March 11th 2022 for digital downloads on the Nintendo Store.