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.hack//Quantum PDF Print E-mail
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R2 DVD Reviews
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 00:00
With all that goes wrong in The World, you'd think that the (real) world would have given up on it and collectively found something safer to play. But noooo, we're back for another round - which this time gives us a little of the why behind the goings-on there...

The World continues to develop... Now in its "R:X" version, it's still home to a huge base of players looking to get their swords and sorcery fix - including Iori, Eri and Asumi, three real-world friends who also spend time playing their alter-egos Tobias, Mary and Sakuya in The World. While in the vicinity of one of the game's high-level dragons, they get the chance to watch a large Guild take it on from what they thought was a safe distance. But in this game, as ever, nowhere is safe, and the trio finds themselves being targetted by the beast. While they're able to escape, Sakuya finds herself a wanted character in the aftermath...

"Wanted" because she inadvertently set off an instakill trap that wiped out most of the raiding guild, and their members aren't happy about that. The guild leader is an interesting type, though - in The World investigating a string of people in inexplicable comas, all being cared for in a hospital laregely funded by The World's developers, CC Corp. Sound familiar? It should - and Mary soon becomes the latest victim for the unexplained affliction. The trap incident also brings Sakuya to the attention of Hermit, an unusual cat player-character who's searching for something very specific.

As I said, I wonder why people keep playing The World, as the coma business has survived through several rewrites and upgrades of the core game - and the fact that there are people looking into the incidents is a fair sign that they're not doing a very good job of covering them up. That's a question you'll have to put to one side, though - and to be fair, while at first glance Quantum seems to be rehashing most of what the various .hack installments have already covered, there are differences here.

First, the series (a 3-episode OVA, so no time for interminable .hack//SIGN-style talkie sessions here) is taking more of a lead from the original .hack//Liminality OVA, which was released alongside the original games and followed the real-world events that were happening while the games covered the in-game stuff. We're not fully immersed in The World, which is a welcome development. Second, it's also the first installment of the franchise that I've seen that makes an effort to explain why the coma incidents are happening - no mystical Key of the Twilight here (well, it's not referred to by name, at least), but instead real-world, plausible explanations of what key people have done - and why - that have been causing The World's issues. When that part of the story started to unfold, I could almost hear the Hallelujah Chorus bursting into life. This was what I've been waiting to hear for so many years...

Shame, then, that it's not entirely consistent with previous installments, in that if you take the explanations in Quantum at face value, then things that happened in, say, SIGN start making less sense than they already did. I sense another installment down the line to try and reconcile everything.

But. It's short, sharp, has a cast who are without exception enjoyable to watch and tries to keep a sense of humour while dealing with potentially life-or-death situations. That makes Quantum probably the best .hack installment I've seen (and I can't help but wonder how much that has to do with this one not being a Bee Train production). Even if you've never delved into the .hack universe before, this is presented in a way that doesn't lean too heavily on prior events - hell, it would probably make more sense without the baggage - and so is as good a place to jump in as any. An unexpectedly good outing, that almost left me wanting more. Colour me pleasantly surprised.

Rating - ****