Atari set to .hack the planet
Or Europe, at least, since the rest of the planet is already .hacked.
Good news at last for console RPG fans - one of the many games we'd almost given up hope of seeing on European shores is set for release over here early next year, with Atari performing publishing duties on Bandai's excellent .hack four-part series.
The series is set in a futuristic massively multiplayer world which suddenly becomes more than just a game when players start to fall into comas, and the first volume, .hack//INFECTION, will arrive next March - with the story continued in the remaining three volumes, which have not yet been given European dates.
As those who have been following the fates of this rather unique series will know, there's more to .hack than just the games. The story is fleshed out by prequel series .hack//SIGN, a 26 part anime series which has been released in the USA on DVD (no sign of a UK release sadly) and which was created by the team behind cult favourite anime series Noir, and features music by the rather talented Yuki Kaijura - who is currently writing the score for Xenosaga Episode II, fact fans.
A second anime series, .hack//LIMINALITY, is set alongside the events of the games, and Atari plans to include a DVD featuring an episode of this four-part show with each of the games in Europe, mirroring the way they were released in Japan and the USA. Each episode of the .hack//LIMINALITY anime also includes hidden clues for secret areas in the game.
Then the story finishes with .hack - Legend of the Twilight's Bracelet (or .hack//DUSK among fans), a long-running manga (comic book) series and now an animated series. Again, no sign of a launch in Europe for that, although you can get the translated manga from the USA.
Phew. Anyway, "cross-media experience" aside, the .hack games are an excellent and highly unusual RPG series which combine MMORPG game mechanics with a great plot, strong characters and some completely unique elements such as the ability to communicate with characters in the game over email. Plus, although the voice acting in English is quite decent, there's the option to play in Japanese with subtitles, which purists will appreciate greatly.
For more information about .hack//INFECTION (or if you're simply utterly confused about what the hell we're banging on about), check out our review/preview/thingy from earlier this year here.