.Hack//G.U. Last Recode

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
.Hack//G.U. Last Recode Game Poster Image
Enjoyable collection appeals only to certain adventure fans.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Standard good vs. evil premise, but heightened focus on violence, sexualizing female characters outweighs positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You play Haseo, who hunts PKs ("Player Killers") in order to gain strength, levels, and eventually track down a strong PK who attacked his friend in the game, which caused her to fall into a coma in real life. Not much else known about him, but his concern for his friend is notable.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.

Violence

You attack "Player Killers" ("PKs") out to destroy you, using guns, swords, magic attacks. In one cutscene sequence: words written in blood along a hospital wall.

Sex

Many female characters wear revealing outfits -- showing large amounts of cleavage, wearing short shorts -- and occasionally are in sexually suggestive poses. Male characters sometimes stare at women's bodies, overreact excitedly (grasping motions in air).

Language

Moderate profanity frequently used, including "bitch," "ass," "bastard."

Consumerism

Includes remastered versions of previously released PlayStation 2 games.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

While you don't see anyone consuming alcohol, many references to it in dialogue.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that .Hack//G.U. Last Recode is a collection of remastered role-playing games (RPGs) from the PlayStation 2. These games tell of a young boy who goes inside of a fictional online game to kill enemies, using weapons such as swords, guns, and magic attacks. There's a light amount of blood shown during combat sequences. Parents should also know this game often portrays women as sex objects (revealing clothing and men who stare excitedly at their breasts and buttocks) and includes some alcohol-consuming references and some mild to moderate profanity.

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What's it about?

.HACK//G.U. LAST RECODE is a remastered collection of the original .hack (pronounced "dot hack") trilogy of RPGs (Rebirth, Reminisce, and Redemption) originally released on the PlayStation 2, plus an extra chapter of content to tie everything together. In the game, Haseo, the main character, enters a fictional online game known as "The World" to hack, slash, and shoot enemy Player Killers, or PKs. This also includes tracking down and eventually attacking the legendary PK "Tri-Edge," who Haseo believes was responsible for his friend Shino's descent into a coma in real life after playing the game. Played from a third-person perspective, the game includes enhanced 1080p graphics (at 60 frames per second), tweaked controls, increased speed, improved turn-based battle balancing and pacing, and extra content. New game modes include a Cheat mode that allows you to begin the game with full stats -- for those who simply want to experience the story -- while the Retry mode lets you retry battles without having to return to the title screen.

Is it any good?

This collection of older remastered adventures is enjoyable, but you really have to be into this series, and/or Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs), to get anything out of it. The game gets really fun, yes, with a lot of meat here between the three games, an intriguing story of the physical world colliding with the virtual world, some real depth and evolvement of the characters, and more challenging gameplay than the original games that were far too easy (but there are some aids to help you, if you need it). Much of the RPG gameplay will be familiar to players, where you'll travel with your party, encounter some baddies in a dungeon, and engage in some fast-paced hack-and-slash action. You'll assign orders to party members, such as using a special skill or healing others. While the fast-paced approach makes it feel like a real-time action RPG (like Diablo), the game pauses whenever you call up a menu, giving you time to consider which action you want to perform.

With more than just simple melee and ranged combat against enemies or bosses, .Hack//G.U. Last Recode offers some interesting gameplay mechanics. That means things such as collecting keywords as you roam about towns and dungeons, which allow you to construct three-word "codes" that teleport your character to a randomly generated dungeon area. What's more, the keywords affect the appearance of the environment you're zapped to, its enemies, and the treasure found inside, meaning that your adventures will change based on the words you choose. All that being said, the game's graphics and voice-over work isn't always that great. it does still look dated when compared to today's titles, so perhaps there's only so much the developers can do to update the gameplay. Similarly, you probably need to be a big fan of Japanese role-playing games to enjoy fighting through this full collection, because if the story or the characters lose your interest, you're not likely going to find something to keep you playing. Overall, .Hack//G.U. Last Recode is a fun JRPG that's half the cost of other games, with a lot of bang for the buck, but make sure you enjoy this genre before you pay.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about objectification and sexualization. What kind of message does .Hack//G.U. Last Recode have for young girls? Should they dress like the female characters in this game, so that boys will excitedly look at them (as they sometimes do in this game)?

  • Talk about violence in video games. Is it OK to kill enemies, since this is a game within a game? Is the killing justified because the protagonist believes he can wake up his friend from a coma in real life if he defeats the main enemy in the game?

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