Category: Action

On Planet Jasindu, it’s more bad news.  Captain Slag’s Space Pirates are attacking Kerchu City, and if we don’t hurry, they’ll get to the Dimensionator first!  But first, there’s a hidden gel facility on the planet, so we’re going to explore that first.


It’s kind of nice to occasionally have an area dedicated to a specific gadget puzzle. Helps to mix it up.

The facility is pretty straight-forward, just a number of environmental puzzles utilizing the Gelatinator, a puzzle device we’ve used before.  There’s a bunch of bolts and some experience in it for us, but we also get an add-on to boost box-bursting and pickup range.  Once we’re done that, it’s just a straightforward play until the boss at the end, who’s kind of a pain in the ass.  There’s a long rail-grinding section before you fight him, and every time you die you have to do the whole thing over again.  I know, seventh-generation problems, but you just expect more checkpoints in modern games.  Then again, R&C has a history of being  a little unforgiving on checkpoints.


Grinding always makes me want to play Sonic…

We finally find the Dimensionator once we beat the boss, only to have it stolen immediately by Captain Slag.  Charting their trajectory points us to the rest of Slag’s fleet in the Ublik Passage, so that’s where we’re headed next.  Security’s sure to be tight, so we’re gonna work on getting the last of our weapons up to Lv. 5 for the last boss.  Jasindu’s all robot-y, gears and wire mesh everywhere, and the enemies are tough as balls.  Many deaths were registered on this planet as I developed strategies to deal with problem areas.

Lots of mini-bosses attacked, too, and while they give awesome experience to a weapon, I really hate running out of ammo fighting a miniboss and then having to take down a hoard of small attackers.  There are no small attackers in this level, so the pressure is on.

After a while, we hop on a floating ship and have to fight a couple ‘naval’ battles by destroying enemy ship’s cannons, easier said than done while dodging all sorts of incoming fire.  After a few more pirate jigs to get through some doors, and a whole bunch more exploding pirate robots, we finally get to Slag’s ship.  He challenges us, in true pirate style, and we whip out the big guns and blow him up.  Rusty Pete, the Captain’s right-hand er… robot… tells Ratchet that since he killed the Captain, he’s the new Captain!  Woot!  We have an armada!


Arr, prepare for boarding me hearties!

Before Ratchet can grab the Dimensionator, though, Qwark burst in and snags it!  He says he’s heading off to hurl it into a black hole, jumps into an escape pod, and unwittingly blasts off to Planet Reepor, the Cragmite home world.  Of course.  We have to drop into the planet, so there’s no way out of this one!

After another HALO jump, it just wave after wave of enemies for like 10 straight minutes.  They’re throwing the kitchen sink at us, and while we manage to avoid dying during the rush, we also get 2 more weapons up to Lv. 5!  All right!  We head inside and turn a couple of switches, opening the route into the deepest part of the level and allowing another swarm of enemies into our defensive area.  Another weapon gets a level, and although we don’t have much further to go in the game, I’m pretty sure it’ll come in handy.

After lasering our way into another building, we confront Tachyon, who has Qwark by the throat.  Tachyon activates the Dimensionator and pulls the Cragmites in from whatever dimension they’re trapped in.  Ratchet is knocked out by an explosion, and despite Clank’s best efforts, he falls down to the planet below before Clank jumps in after him.


Lots of bad guys on the bad guy home planet. Go figure.

Another Clank solo segment, and this time there are way more enemies to contend with.  Luckily, we pick up Zoni rather quickly and then it’s just another platforming segment with occasional puzzles.  Once Clank makes it back to the ship, it’s time for Ratchet to have his own solo area.  It’s weird not having Clank to amp up my jumping, but beyond that it’s a fairly typical area.  Lots of enemies, tons of bolts, and this time they’re not playing around.  I fall into something of a pattern for killing Cragmites, mostly based on using the Mag-Net Launcher to immobilize and damage them while I pump some rounds into their faces.  Seriously, a new weapon this late in the game?  Use it all you can, I guess.

Once we return to the ship, Ratchet and Clank meet up again and share a brief moment of bromance, before their spaceship warns them that the Cragmites are attacking Miridian City, the last non-Cragmite capital city in this quadrant.  We’re headed off to Planet Igliak, where we hope to stop Tachyon once and for all!

Miridian City is similar to the first area of the game, a bustling city that makes no sense, and now crawling with elite Cragmite soldiers.  Man, all of these guys take serious ammo to defeat, so we’re stopping at every weapon vendor we come across to stock up.  I tried using weapons that would generate Raritanium, too, but in the end it was about taking out enemies fast, and if that could be done from a distance, so be it.  After the final return of the Decryptor SixAxis puzzle, we’re faced with a some very close-quarters combat with fully-grown Cragmites who are, no doubt, protecting their boss.


Flying should not be this frustrating!

We had to head through another GyroCycle area first, though, and found out the GyroCycle can run over baby Cragmites for damage.  I’d tell them to get out of the way, but frankly they’re gross and I can use the bolts.  After crossing a couple extremely unsafe bridges through a construction zone, we have to do another RoboWings section, a flying part that uses, again, SixAxis.  I’m really hoping they dropped most of this SixAxis nonsense in Quest for Booty.

After a final crunch of enemies, we find Qwark locked in a closet, crying to himself.  He has no idea where Tachyon’s gone, but Clank remembers the Zoni told him that he’d be found on Planet Fastoon, the ancient homeworld of the Lombax.

Another HALO jump with the robo-cronies, and it’s time to take out some turrets.  And some enemies.  Sorry, did I say some?  I meant ALL!  Wave after wave of enemies crash into us, and since this if the last level (for reals this time) they’ve got nothing to lose.  Every combination of enemies, from shields to spiders, teleporters and tanks, everyone was in this one.  It was actually a lot of fun, but pretty crazy for a while there.  A few deaths, and even more close calls, but eventually we knocked out the cannons and Talywn could come in for a landing.


The Mag-Nets are actually really helpful, despite how clumsy they look.

More enemy waves, and although I have allies to help me blast through them, it’s a long siege situation.  Talwyn’s working on hacking the bridge so we can head after Tachyon, so the rest of us are stuck protecting her.  It’s a thankless job, but somebody’s gotta do it, and the pay’s not bad.  Tachyon shows up to taunt us, and from there it was a hard press forward.  Talwyn’s robots with with us, and were pretty helpful, actually.  Even the little bit of extra damage they do is advantageous, and the faster we kill these enemies, the less time they have to kill me.  After cranking a skybridge so we could get across, we restocked our weapons and went in to beat Tachyon.

Tachyon opens a portal to where the rest of the Lombaxs are and offers Ratchet the chance to run away and be with his people.  After a little soul-searching, Ratchet decides to stay, of course, and Tachyon jumps down to end our association.  He has two forms, of course.  The first is a robot in a circular arena, which spits out lots of death: missiles, bullets, small enemies, all sorts of stuff.  Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy to just keep running in one direction around it and kill it off.  I used crappy weapons to do this part, so I’d have the big stuff for later.


Once we had him down a quarter of his life, the Dimensionator started malfunctioning, and frustrated, Tachyon attempted to fix it by hitting it.  The device responded by creating a portal and sucking Tachyon inside.  Despite Ratchet’s insistence that he couldn’t possibly reach back and grab him in the most cliche way possible, it happens, and our duo are sucked into a chunk of rock in an asteroid field with Tachyon.  He’s not happy with us, but now we’re in free-roam mode and we’re done messing around.

It takes a couple of tries to learn his patterns, and each time you restart you have to beat his first form again, but on the third try we manage to avoid his attacks long enough to take him down.  After we trash his weapon suit, Tachyon gives us a last threat and is sucked into another portal as the asteroid collapses.  We grab the Dimensionator and manage to warp back home.



While Qwark proves he’ll never make a decent pirate, or anything besides a giant ham, Ratchet ponders his purpose and existence in the wake of Tachyon’s revelation that he knew his father.  Clank reassures his friend that his purpose is already fulfilled by stopping Tachyon.  Suddenly a portal opens in the air and the Zoni appear, picking Clank up and rushing him towards the portal with talk of finding his purpose.  Ratchet can’t stop them, and as Clank disappears, we’re treated to… the credits.  Wow, way to go on the cliffhanger, Insomniac.  Now I have to play Quest for Booty, you bastards!




Because I can’t separate myself from the hours of mind-numbing boredom and agony this game/series has been, I’m changing this format.  Since I’m not trying to be totally neutral and rule out my biases, and because I’m not going for pure objectivity, I’ve decided to refrain from using the expression ‘Review’.  It sounds professional, and this is not.  This supposed to be personal, a gaming diary, and while I’ll still recap good and bad, I don’t want to feel limited in what I’m going to say and I want to be able to go at length on any facet I choose.  Therefore, I’m adjusting the title to “Rant’n’Rave”, which in the most literal sense is what I’m doing, talking up the good and down the bad.  This change will also be retroactive, ’cause I like organizing things.

So… Dot Hack.  What can I say about you that I haven’t already whined about out loud to people over the course of the last 6 years I’ve been playing you?  Since the second game, when I realized there wasn’t going to be any changes from game to game, just more of the same, and I was tucked in for a 100+ hour grindfest?  How about I start with a reason why?  Why play this game (series) if it’s such torture?  Why whine and bitch and play this thing when there’s other stuff, other fantastic games, that I could be discovering and playing and loving?

Because it builds character.

Because sometimes you’ve just gotta see something through to the end, even if you hate every minute of it.

Because at one point, my naive self was so excited to be playing you.

I’m sorry, Dot Hack.  It just didn’t work out, and now we need to go our separate ways.  And it’s not me.  It’s you.



Let me start off by saying that I’m an open-minded guy.  I like new twists on old ideas and while I cherish retro and nostalgia, I also understand the march of progress, in pop culture if nothing else.  When Capcom showed the very first video of the new Devil May Cry reboot, I was genuinely excited.  And really, all throughout it’s development, I was really looking forward to this game.  Each new trailer and screenshot filled me with giddy excitement at the thought of how totally awesome it could be.  And despite all the fanboys and haters whining about it for months, it looks like I was right, suckers; DmC is a marvelous game.  The worst thing about it is it’s title.

It’s Review Time!

Once we set down on Rykan V, we’re immediately thrown into Tower Defense mode.  Talwyn’s two robot companions are with us, but it’s basically 10 minutes of enemy dropships tossing enemies at us, and us just wreaking unholy hell with every weapon we have.  Which is kinda what the R&C series is about, really.  Once we blow up all the bots, and take our the turrets, we make it to the Rykan V spaceport.  And who’s waiting there, but our old buddy the Smuggler.  Apparently Tachyon has locked down the whole planet, but he has a Gyro-Cycle he’s willing to sell us… for a price.  Dammit, I was saving up for new armor!  Oh well.  We pay his price and hop on the cycle, which is basically just a platforming section on wheels.


Security is really high at Rykan V’s launch pads.

Once we touch down at the point where the coordinates from the Lombax artifact point, we’re treated to a video from the ancient Lombax’s describing the Dimensionator, the weapon they used to stop the Cragmites.  It’s some kind of inter-dimensional space-hat-thing, but it’s not here.  We have to head to Planet Sargasso to get the unit itself, which is where the Lombax’s training facility is.  There’s not really anything left to do here, so it’s off to Sargasso, and plot points!

Planet Sargasso is primordial-themed, a bit swampy place with dinosaur-ish stuff running around all over the place.  And bugs.  Lots of bugs.  We run into the Smuggler almost right away, and lets us know that he has a Decryptor to unlock a bunch of pads around this planet.  On the plus side, he wants Leviathan Souls for it, so I’ll be able to keep saving for the armor.  There are Leviathans everywhere on this planet, probably twelve or more total, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.  The Leviathans are in new bodies again, like they are on every planet, this time in big horned T-Rex lookin’ bodies.  No life bar this time, either, so we just whip out every weapon we have and whomp away at them.  After collecting three, we use them to purchase the Decryptor from the Smuggler and use it on the launch pad.


The new Leviathans are dinosaurs… okay, sure. Let’s kill ’em.

Another friggin’ Sixaxis sequence?  Seriously.  It’s a plane puzzle, the kind where you roll a marble through a maze by tilting the floor.  There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the gist, and it’s not difficult, just irritating.  Once we unlock the launch pad, it’s a Robowing flying sequence… which is also controlled by tilting the Sixaxis.  Alright, Insomniac, stop showing off!  We make it to the location of the training facility, and after busting our way in we meet up with the inventor from the previous games (who almost doesn’t recognize us in high definition.  Meta).  He says there’s no planet-disintegrating ray anywhere around, but the Dimensionator exists.  So it’s not a zappy weapon?  Who knows?  He flushes himself down his giant toilet (that is, inter-planetary transport system), and we get a call from Qwark telling us to come back to the arena on Murkow immediately. We also get a message from Talwyn, saying that she thinks she’s been followed, and feels like somethings near.  She’s pretty capable though, so we run around killing Leviathans for a while, making a metric assload of bolts in the process.  Enough to buy the Helios Armour (woo-hoo!) with 100000 to spare.  This planet is very, very good for grinding resources.  Note to self.

Back on Murkow, we head into the arean and take down a bunch of baddies followed by a boss.  Qwark gives us a space pirate disguise for winning the arena fight, and shows us a video found in Emperor Tachyon’s underwear drawer.  It’s a trivia cube, talking about the IRIS supercomputer which acted as the galaxy’s search engine.  It was once open for use to the public, but now it resides deep in Space Pirate territory.  So it looks like we’re heading back after to Captain Slag’s pirate gang, but at least we have a disguise this time?  We leave the arena and head for the Kreeli Comet.


Nice place for a filthy space-pirate den!

The Comet is an ice level, with tons of space pirates running around.  It looks like the pirates have completely taken over the complex, so I guess we’re going to have to sneak past them.  The pirate disguise is actually pretty cute, and lets us walk by the enemies without trouble.  When we get to a pirate door (which I also saw on the previous pirate level… a Gold Bolt area, maybe?) we have to play a dancing mini-game to get past the door.  I didn’t realize that there were disco-jig pirates, but maybe they like the electronica aspect because they’re robots?  Hilarious.  The level is pretty long, but it’s basically a straight line with a bunch of enemies.  We bought a new weapon, a flamethrower with crazy-high attack power, so that’s fun too.  Eventually we get to the IRIS computer, but it’s broken and we have to send Clank inside to fix it.

Clank’s levels, which I completely forgot existed in this game, are similar to the ones in previous games where you’re controlling drones that follow you.  The drones, in this case, being the Zoni, those little mysterious robot fairies that only Clank can see.  They’ve shown up a few times and dropped major information and glimpses of the future on Clank, so they’re okay in my book!  The level itself is pretty short, nothing too complex, and we managed to repair IRIS, but the Zoni show that Talwyn has been captured and is being held at Zordoom Prison.


Adorable, if a little creepy, Zoni

IRIS tells us that the Lombax’s finished the Cragmites by sending them to another dimension (while footage from R&C1 plays on background monitors… weird).  This explorer guy we keep hearing about, Max Apogee (Talwyn’s dad) apparently found the Dimensionator, and moved it to Kerchu City.  Ratchet wants to head there immediately, but Clank tells him about Talwyn.  Ratchet doesn’t believe him, but it looks like we’re heading there anyway.  We head to the Planet Viceron, which holds Tachyon’s personal prison, Zordoom.


Artist’s (Qwark’s) rending of Zordoon Prison

It’s a pretty typical prison area, lots of corridors and tons of enemies.  A lot of my arsenal is hitting Lv.5 now, so I’m trying to switch it up and finish leveling up the last of it.  We have go over a grind rail into a series of tunnels and platforms.  There’re spotlights everywhere to avoid, too, which look like they’ll trigger some large enemies if tripped.  I wouldn’t know, I managed to avoid them all.  We have to use the decryptor to open a number of doors and the challenges are getting harder, but I found a trick they built in to make the challenges easier, so that’s nice.

Once we get past all the external security and get into the prison proper, we have to jump down an elevator shaft and maneuver through a laser grid system.  And how do we control ourselves in freefall?  The same way we have in all the previous sections, of course: Sixaxis.  I really hope that the fascination with this control scheme ends in this game.

Once in the bottom of the prison, we collect a Gold Bolt that’s just lying around, and then free Talwyn.  Once she’s free, we have to fight our way out of the whole prison in one go, and now that all the super-security bots are awake it’s no easy feat.  After a few tries I managed to make it past all the baddies and got to the checkpoints, and despite some heavy resistance we made it to the taxi and back to our ship.


Space sequences are getting better, too

We take off for Planet Jasindu, where Kerchu City is.  We have to go through another spaceship battle to get there, though, and this one works a bit better than the last.  Maybe I’m just getting used to the dual-stick controls, but we collect a whole lot of bolts and a skill point, too.  Once we trash the pirate’s outpost outside Jasindu and beat their boss, we head down to the planet and clock out for the night.



Right, so after (finally) beating .hack, I feel the need to clear a couple more games off my backlog before moving onto new stuff.  I quickly perused my Backloggery for games with minimal storyline that I could just pick up and play.  A few Platformers were on the list, but this one really stuck out, ’cause it’s another series that I’ve really enjoyed over the course of it’s life.  I’ve had it forever, only played it a few times, and stopped for no particular reason.  And I can just pop in, kill a bunch of enemies, and beat a world.  It’s perfect.

I don’t remember most of the story, but a quick perusal of Wikipedia and Youtube are enough to catch me up.  Emperor Percival Tachyon of the Cragmite Empire is trying to wipe out Ratchet, the last Lombax in the universe.  The Cragmites, at one time, swarmed the galaxy conquering everything in their path, but the Lombax stopped them cold, apparently with some sort of weapon that vaporized the Cragmite’s homeworld.  Our ‘old friend’ Captain Qwark is cowardly sleazing with Tachyon as well, or as he puts it, “working deep undercover”.


Cragmites: Ridiculous Creatures

I started out on Planet Murkow, where the Imperial Fight Festival was going on.  Well, it’s as good a training as I’m going to get, so we jump into the area and die several times trying to get the hang of 3rd-person shooting.  It’s been a long time.  And why is there no dodge button?  Oh well.  Once we finally kick out the last of the enemies, Qwark gives us a short recap of how he came to be working for… er, that is, working undercover against Tachyon, and gives us a holocron with new information on it as our prize for winning the Festival.  Once we get back to the ship, we play the disc and see what’s up.


Planet Murkow’s “amusement park”

It’s an advertisement, of course, to join up with Tachyon’s army and take over the universe.  Between talking about health plans and salaries, Tachyon mentions that if we join up now, we can help with the assault on the space station in the Nundac Asteroid Ring later today.  He’s sure the Lombax Secret is on that station, so we punch the coordinates into our ship and jump, hoping to beat his army there.

The asteriod ring is a little barren, but we meet up with the Smuggler and his parrot, whom I vaguely remember running into earlier in the game.  Particularly the parrot.  He has the launch codes to get us into the space station, but he wants Leviathan Souls in exchange for it.  Luckily there’s lots of the flying beasties around and we go on a merry romp through asteroid field, using teleport guns and jump platforms to get to different areas, and lots and lots of ammo to take down the Leviathans.  I manage to level up a couple weapons as well, so a good time is had by all.  Once we have all the Souls I feel like collecting (about 4 more than we need), we head back and cash in at the Smuggler.  He gives us the launch code, and we head off to the station.


Crazy space sea monsters! The Leviathans.

The shuttle lands us at a maintenance area, so we have to go through a long platforming section with many pits, laser beams, and jumping puzzles.  It’s pretty fun, although the collision detection is a little sloppy and causes a couple deaths after I jump through platforms and stuff.  Oh well.  Once we finally get inside the station we’re forced to deal with it’s multitude of defense guns and robot armies, and two elderly robots calling us “whippersnapper” over the PA.  Have I mentioned how much I love R&C’s humor?  It’s a winner.  It’s a tough push forward, but after re-discovering the ‘Strafe’ button on the controller, I get a lot more capable and we blast our way into the inner sanctum.  There, we’re correctly identified as a Lombax by the Station’s current owner, a girl named Talwyn.  She doesn’t know why Tachyon would think the Lombax Secret is here, but her father was an adventurer and treasure-hunter who once brought back a Lombax artifact.  It’s gone now, though, taken by pirates in a raid a while ago.  The Smuggler mentioned some pirates near here, though, so after Talwyn and her elderly caretakers depart, we head back into our ship and fly off to Planet Ardolis.

Ardolis is the stronghold of Captain Slag and his scurvy crew of pirates.  Space pirates.  Robot space pirates.  It’s pretty fun, and like all of the levels, looks gorgeous.  The best part is the soundtrack though, which liberally rips off the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean and works it into a swashbuckling rendition while storming the fortress.  We pick up a new weapon from a vendor, the Tornado Launcher, which is powerful but uses the Sixaxis controller to control it.  That’s like, the sixth thing in this game that’s been controlled by Sixaxis.  Insomniac, STAHP!  Once we get into the treasure room, we find the Lombax artifact (although we have no idea what it is) just in time for the pirate leader to find us.  We escape in a smoke blast, but have to fight our way through bands of pirates once the alarm is raised.  We eventually make it to Talwyn, who grabbed the artifact, and manage to accidentally activate it.  It’s a map, showing the planet Rykan V in the Verdigris Sector.  I wonder if all of the sectors are color puns?


It’s no Starfox, but it breaks up the game nicely.

As we hit the Rykan system, we’re pulled into a space battle with Slag and his pirates.  It starts as a turret-shooting section, but before long it hands over control of the ship and we have to cruise around the red-hot Rykan planet, knocking Slag’s goons off our tail.  It’s not a bad sequence, but the controls feel a little floaty, just like the rest of the game.  Once we take out a boss in a sequence that was way too easy (and drawn-out), we drop down to the planet’s surface and quit for the day.


We picked up where we left off by hacking into Rotting Countless Sacrifice and heading straight for the bottom of the dungeon.  This area is Lv.85, so I’m kinda glad I got all those extra levels, the game’s catching up to me now.  We plowed through the dungeon and took down the last boss without any further problems, so afterwards it was back to the servers and it looks like there’s only one place left to go.  On the Board earlier, someone mentioned seeing a wandering AI of Harald (the creator of The World, and Aura’s ‘father’) on Delta Server in Reincarnated Purgatorial Altar.  It’s a Lv.90 area, and it needs the four Virus Cores we’ve just picked up in order to open.  We’ve lost our level advantage too, so I’m pretty glad we abused it while we did.  That’s a lot of grinding we skipped.  We load out and hack our way in.


So much Data Drain…

We skip the field completely and head right into the dungeon, to be greeted by a Data Bug, a boss monster.  Apparently they’re regular enemies here.  Great.  And they give 1 XP for a kill.  Ugh!  DOT HACK!!  Anyways, due to the Data Bug nature of the enemies, I again decided to skip unnecessary battles.  Seeing as we get little-to-no XP for them, they’re not worth the effort to fight.  Still, by the time we hit B5 I was pretty sick of Data Bugs and was ready to take down a real boss.  By B7, I was starting to question how long this dungeon was.  By B9 I was becoming pretty concerned, as my Infection Level was now very high after Data Draining all those enemies.  I’m trying my best to take the last hit and lower it, but the Infection is creeping in.  Luckily, by B10, I see that we’re out of map, so I’m pretty sure that’s the end.


Seriously, tons

It’s a Cubia boss, and looks to be the final one!  The tree motif remains, but this boss is a bit different.  We’re basically running up the ‘branches’ of Cubia, running into three separate Cubia Core bosses and their posses.  Each one switches between physical and magical immunity, has goons who attack or heal, and are generally a pain in the butt to beat.  We tossed on as many buffs as we could, and pushed forward aggressively, taking down all three Cores in (relatively) quick succession.  Once we got to the main Cubia head we had to smack him down for another 3000 HP, and when we brought him to 0 he recharged back to 9999.  Ugh!  DOT HACK!!  Anyway, it took some time, but we finally beat him… only for him to recharge back to full again.  WHY!?  Kite remembers what Aura said about the Bracelet and Cubia being two sides of the same coin, and convinces BlackRose to smash the Bracelet.  Once she does, Cubia falls to pieces, defeated.  Helba says the final Wave is approaching, and we’re meeting back in Lia Fail to finish this.


It’s the last Cubia, time to prune his branches!

Once back in Lia Fail, we sell and restock before talking to BlackRose, who invites us to the meeting before the final battle.  The final battle, you say?  Count me in!  And she asks to confirm!  It looks like this is it, I’m all a-flutter!  After a cutscene where everyone takes some old adages to heart, the boss saves us the trouble of finding it by coming to us.  Awesome!  It’s the final Phase boss, Corbenik.  He has a Data Bug health bar, but it seems like we can just hammer him into submission.  He’s quite powerful, but we play it safe and zero his HP.  This prompts his transformation into a second form, Corbenik 2.  Same rules, just new attacks, so we’ll keep the same tactics and crack at his life.

Once we get him down to a sliver of life, though, he pulls out a Supreme Defense.  We can’t do anything to get past it, so I just ran in circles for a bit hoping it would wear off.  Took the opportunity to rebuff my party, and after it became clear that time wasn’t the issue, we continued to pound away at him.  After some time, Aura appeared with all of the people who were stuck in comas, and together they destroyed Corbenik 2’s shield.  He moved to a third form after this, a floating eye thing that’s decidedly different from the last two forms.


Last Boss! First form, but you know how it goes…

This one has a real climactic battle feels to it, so I think it’s the last one.  His patterns and attacks have all changed, and he’s gotten more powerful again, so that’s fun.  We’re running low on buff items, but we keep using them.  I mean, if we’re at the end of the game, who cares how many items we use?  I also use most of the magic Scrolls I have in my inventory to do damage from a distance, and after a while, he’s defeated.  It’s cutscene time, and in the end Aura is able to overpower the Wave and turn it’s Data Drain back on itself.  The servers reboot and the infection is clear, but Aura has been born in the real world and has passed from the digital one.

Once the credits are over, there’s a bunch of emails and some post-game missions as well.  I picked up the very first one with Orca, just because it seems fitting to have that as closure (the first game opened by having you quest with Orca, for those of you who haven’t played it).  We head into Bursting Passed Over Aqua Field on Delta Server, where an email from Aura said that she wanted to meet.  Once we meet up with her, she re-activates Kite’s Bracelet, so we can Data Drain again.  We also get Member Addresses of characters from the .hack//SIGN anime and the ability to use them as party members, but I think I’m gonna cap this one.  Lots of post-game content, but I just don’t feel like it.  Good night, Dot Hack.  It’s been a long, arduous ride, but I’m glad we finished it.


We ran back to Sigma Server, grabbed a Virus Core I (just one, that’s all I need, I refuse to do any more), jumped back to Omega Server and hacked into Splendid Emerald Nobleman, one of the areas we were given by the inhabitants of Net Slum.  It’s only a Lv.80 against my Lv.82 party, so hopefully we’ll be able to breeze through it.  We cleared the field without even meaning to, and headed down into the dungeon.

Met a new enemy, The Guardian, who looks more like an amoeba/computer/digital being than most of the fantasy-style monsters in the game.  I’m not sure if he’s supposed to give a sense of foreshadowing or not.  He has a lot of life, but no imuunities, and he only gives 80-40 XP.  He’s nothing special… until you Data Drain him.  I usually don’t bother Data Draining since it de-levels the enemy to Lv.0 and you only get 1 XP for the kill, but these guys were getting Protect Break status 2 or 3 times during a normal battle.  On a whim, I Data Drained one and got an awesome sword for BlackRose, but now it’s Lv.0 form (The Bracelet) was kicking my ass!  What?  Unlike every other enemy in the game, this guy turns into a powerhouse when you Data Drain him, so we switched to boss tactics and took him down in a few seconds to the tune of 520 XP.  WHAT?!  Totally going to abuse this later.


This is the easy form, pre-Data-Drain.

We pushed for the bottom of the dungeon, only avoiding enemies who are way out of the way because we’re still getting some decent experience.  We even find a Virus Core I in a treasure room.  Ugh!  DOT HACK!!  Enemies are pretty routine, and no real rough spots throughout.  Even the dungeon boss was fairly easy, Protect Broken in less than a minute and killed in one hit after that.  We headed back upstairs and abused the XP boost from The Bracelet until Lv.90 or so.  That puts us at a distinct advantage, even if leveling up in this game never seems to make you stronger (pet peeve).  At least we all have more HP!

Once we unloaded our equipment and re-stocked, it was off to the next area, Dreaming Moonlit Gravestone.  Now that we’re really over-leveled, I’m just going to take the opportunity to plow through these areas as fast as I can.  We skipped the field, headed straight to the bottom of the dungeon and beat the boss, Draining it’s virus core.  Back to Lia Fail, sell, restock, and save, and it’s off to the next area… or it would be, if I had two more Virus Core J’s.  Here we go again.


I can’t help but giggle at the name.

We head to Hidden Passed Over Sea of Sand since we’ve farmed J Cores here before.  We managed to find two Cores from enemies on the field, so we didn’t have to go mucking around in the dungeon, thank god.  With cores in hand, we hacked into Muted Starving Dry Sea, and again went straight for the bottom floor of the dungeon.  Managed to get my whole party to Lv.91, courtesy of a couple more Bracelets we ran into.  They only give us 480 XP now, but it’s a big enough bump.  The data bug was fairly typical, and after we Data Drained it for it’s Virus Core, we managed to Protect Break it again.  I guess we’ll probably run into a few more of them later?  After we collected the Gott Statue, we warped back to Lia Fail to prepare for the last of the four missions.  And again, I’m missing Virus Cores.  Ugh!  DOT HACK!!


The Data Bugs look kinda pretty in HD

We had to swing back to Sigma Server and Dolorous Promised Clavicle in order to get the Virus Core H we were missing, but we managed to pick up 5 in the field and avoid dungeon trolling, so then it’s back to Sigma and Hidden Passed Over Sea of Sand.  At least I know exactly where to go for J Cores.  We managed to find the requisite 3 on the field, so it’s back to Lia Fail for a final sell n’ save, but it’s pretty late, so I’ll just call it a night and finish this quest later.


Okay, I’ve been deliberately avoiding this and playing everything else I can.  Even, in a weird case of meta,  actual MMO RPG’s to avoid playing this fake/offline MMO RPG.  I swear to god I will finish this series.

Okay, third time to head to Cruel Vindictive Scars and let’s see if we can’t make it stick this time!  It took a Phase and a Cubia to stop us the last two times so I only dread what’s coming.  I took BlackRose and Wiseman as usual, and we hit the field, headed straight to the dungeon, and basically followed the left wall.  This takes us back to the lowest level and Lios advises that we’re ready to try this one more time!  It’s Phase 7 this time, Tarvos the Avenger!  He’s pretty typical: crazy HP, no weaknesses, and toggles back and forth between physical and magical immunity.  Fun stuff.  It’s not the difficulty, it’s just how damn long it takes.  After 10 minutes, he actually caught me off-guard after DataDraining Kite and wiped my party in the 3 seconds it would’ve taken them to heal me.  Ugh! DOT HACK!! Round two was successful though, despite taking forever.  I think I’m gonna start carrying buff items with me to bosses.


He thinks he’s so bad-ass with his martyr shtick…

We got back to the Lia Fail just in time for all of the residents to leave, and found a slew of new locations through email and the board.  Alright, let’s clock ’em.  First we’re heading back to Lamba Server and (hopefully) quickly taking down the Lv.70 Pulsating Sea of Cloud Whale area.  We’re supposed to be looking to solve the mystery of the Floating Creature (which has caps for some reason) but the story reasons don’t matter anymore.  We’re way over-leveled for it, so we just rush through the dungeon and head straight to the bottom level… which is a boss.  Unexpected, but we’re over-leveled.  Black Death falls with little problem; he’s immune to magic, so Wiseman stays on First Aid, and BlackRose and Kite unload on this guy.  It’s not long before he’s toast, and he unlocks a bunch of images to the desktop.   That’s taken care of, so now it’s back to Omega Server.


I don’t even know why I”m in this dungeon, fighting this boss…

We swapped BlackRose for Marlo and headed to his invited area, Collapsed Traveler’s Fort.  It’s a level match but we skipped the field and headed into the dungeon proper.  Inside, the enemies gave us some trouble but we managed to get a level up and claim the prize at the bottom, a bunch of super-items Marlo had been hiding away.  Mine now!

Back to Sigma Server where we dropped off Marlo and grabbed Rachel for her mission, Nameless Pseudo Sea of Sand.  It’s a Lv.80, so we should pick up some good exp and bump up another level.  I hate having to re-outfit these characters that I never use, though.  Ugh!  DOT HACK!!  We have to go rescue some guy on the lowest level of the dungeon but I genuinely don’t feel like mucking around.  We head straight to the depths, tag the dude, and after a ‘hilarious misunderstanding’, receive 5000 GP and get warped back to Fort Ouph.


Why not Wiseman? He’s right there!

Finally, it’s back to Omega Server and the old party is back again.  We’re heading to Obedient Someone’s Knights to see if Subaru (from the .hack//SIGN anime) will show herself, and maybe get something out of the deal?  We get some okay exp because we’re at par for level again, and it looks like there’s treasure all over the place but we’re ignoring it.  We troll through the top two levels, squeak through a couple battles, and meet up with Crim, who is also from .hack//SIGN… I think.  He hands over a weapon for a Long Arm, which will be useful if I have to use one in the future.  But it’s back to Lia Fail since all the side-questy stuff is done!  Now for the real missions… except that I’m missing some virus cores.  Ugh!  DOT HACK!!


Mission 15: The Trade – We jumped straight into one of the most intense hostage exchange scenes I’ve seen in a game.  Kat is thrown at us by a SWAT team, and we send Lilith back to her master… minus a few pieces.  Virgil shows a knack for dickery, and Mundus decides he’s not gonna let us get away.  He sends a shock-wave that decimates the city, and while Virgil and Kat try to escape in a car, Dante gets pulled into Limbo (again) and has to save their asses (again).  Their car keeps on heading towards large obstacles, and Dante has to move through Limbo and remove them.  It’s a fast-paced platforming obstacle course, which is the best kind of platforming for this game, and the level just bleeds cool, all near-misses and powerful hits and this unstoppable player character.  A few enemies are thrown in, but mostly as a distraction between grapple points.  In any case, after being thrown through the air, almost sliced in half by a tanker ship’s propeller, escaping 20 blocks of city being turned into a lava pit, and going through an elevated train bridge, we manage to meet up and get out of Mundus’ sight.


Might wanna move those boxes…

Mission 16: The Plan – Since Kat’s been in and out of Mundus’ tower, she’s able to formulate the perfect plan for us to attack him.  Dante will attack from Limbo, drawing Mundus’ armies and attention, and Virgil will attack in the real world, disabling security systems and being sneaky-like.  Basically, we got a long tower level ahead of us.  Mundus is already getting pissed and shows the tower’s true form, destroying the nearby area in Limbo.  Another platforming bit to get us to the tower, and then the fighting starts.  And we keep fighting.  And fighting.  And fighting.

The whole thing is accented by an unexpected graphical treat though, where the graphics will take on the look of a chalk drawing on a board and directions and notes will appear, mirroring the map Kat was drawing as she laid out the plan.  It makes for a nice story-telling technique, allowing Kat’s direction and voice-over to happen during a level, instead of relegating all the information to a cutscene.  Also, I really like the whole chalk-drawing look, it just pops and shows up as another great style choice from NinjaTheory.


Chalk: It’s a good look for the game

Virgil keeps on opening doors, and I keep on running to new areas.  Every type of enemy you can think of is here, and that includes some new stuff, too.  Despite being a great fighting workout, though, there’s not much of note here.  A few wrong turns are made, Virgil can’t disable all of the security, and there’s a particular scene that really stands out, but beyond that it’s pretty much just kill and climb.  It’s long, though, and it makes you work for your progress, and it makes a few statements about evil corporations, and when you get to the end, you know the throwdown is just around the corner.

Mission 17: Furnace of Souls – Okay, maybe no throwdown.  We’re inside ‘the core’ now, a space in Limbo analogous to Mundus’ inner chamber in the real world.  It’s a big ‘ol space with various floating pieces, forming the most awkward staircase ever to his office.  Between huge floating pillars and stone courtyards, there are grapple points and debris, so there will probably be some fast-paced moving soon.  Oh, and just for good measure, every ten seconds or so the souls of the damned are channeled through and if you happen to be in mid-air when it happens, it’s gonna hurt.  Anyways, more enemies, more grappling, and a level design that looks more like Darksiders than DmC thus far.  But once it’s all done, bam baby, we’re at the boss!


Seriously, Darksiders…

Mission 18: Demon’s Den – Seriously, another puzzle?  We have to reboot the security system so that we can get into Mundus’ chamber, which means that Dante has to kill stuff in Limbo and grapple around, and Virgil just has to sit in the real world and wait.  Blargh.  Actually, I think this is the first real puzzle room this game has thrown at us.  Basically, we have to follow a path to a room at the end, activate an engine, then kill the demons and find our way back.  Four times.  Each of those engines lights up a pedestal with a shape on it, corresponding to one of four symbols in interconnected rings on the ground.  Once we’re activated the pedestal, we have to rotate the rings on the ground to line up the symbols with their respective pedestal.  I thought it was going to be a bit more tricky, but it’s a fairly easy version of the interconnected rings puzzle, and before long we’ve unlocked it.  I can has boss nao, plz?

Mission 19: Face of the Demon – Well, here we go.  Long cutscenes show that Mundus doesn’t believe humans deserve freedom, and he quickly casts doubt over The Order’s mission for Dante.  Luckily, Dante is a shallow asshole, and gets Mundus raged up real good.  After Mundus demolishes Dante, sending him flying out of the building and taking off after him, Virgil manages to close the Hellgate, the source of Mundus’ power.  For some reason, it looks like Limbo and Earth merge, and demons start appearing to humans everywhere.  It’s enough to take the wind out of him, and Virgil catches him offguard, stabbing him through the back, and starting the real boss fight.  Mundus, of course, opens up his demon form, and makes a towering giant to fight us on the rooftops.

You know he had to have a big 'ol demon form.

You know he had to have a big ‘ol demon form.

Most of the boss is actually trickery, following grapple points and Virgil’s cinematics to make damage, but once we hit a certain point it’s just Dante and Mundus, the way it’s supposed to be.  Definitely not the hardest boss in the game, but he mixes things up and keeps them interesting.  It’s not a boss you’re likely to die on more than once, unlike DMC 1 or 2, but if we’re going for epic in scope, it’s still pretty good.  After roughing him up, we rescue Virgil and beat Mudus once and for all.

Spoiler Alert!

Mission 10: Bad News – Phineas sends us on our way after revealing that Mundus’ greatest weakness is his unborn child, currently gestating inside his mistress, Lilith.  She’s kind of a bitch, if the cutscenes so far are to be believed, but I’m not particularly sure how I feel about going after a fetus to get to the big-bad. Maybe I see some hesitation in Dante’s eyes as well?  Well, we have to take out Bob Barbas first, and luckily, I have no qualms about doing that.

We’re rushed through a great chase sequence trying to get to the tower, as it’s defense system keeps sending energy beams out to fry us, and we keep on getting past them.  It’s a fast-paced platforming segment with lots of grappling and gliding over a massive empty pit, and really hits all the right notes to keep you moving.  Once we hit the tower and smash into the front screen, we’re treated to another platforming segment, and the level design guys get another chance to mix things up, designing a large space that looks like we’re travelling inside of a logo.  It’s the perfect combination of sharp edges and embossed platforms, with colors and names flying by as we jump from area to area.  Despite it’s short length, it’s visually striking, and really helps the area to stand out compared to most of the Limbo we’ve seen.


I know we call them ‘talking heads’, but this is ridiculous

On the other side of this area is the big man himself, Bob Barbas.  He appears as a big floating head, and liberal use of static motifs and pixelation add a nice flair.  He’s not too difficult, just another boss with some pretty obvious damage patterns, but he provides an okay challenge during his invincible cycle before we crack his shields and wail on him for the interim.  Throughout the battle newscasts and interviews keep playing, spinning propaganda to make Dante and The Order look like horrible, degenerate people. It’s an interesting look at how a few lying people can be used to totally slant a news story, and a deep thread of distrust in the media is accelerated when Bob shows footage of a SWAT attack on The Order’s headquarters to throw Dante off his game.  Doesn’t stop us though, and once we kill Bob, we’re granted another new weapon, the Aquila.  Woo-hoo!  It’s a crowd-control weapon with crazy juggle and range, and low damage, so we’ll be abusing it in the future.

Mission 11: The Order – Next on agenda is to head to The Order’s headquarters and make sure they’re okay.  It looks like the SWAT team from Bob’s footage have just gotten here, so he was lying.  Phew, good.  But we don’t have much time before they blast their way in, and they’re shooting to kill everyone.  We head for the back door, but are pulled into Limbo immediately of course.

The place was a mess even before the SWAT team broke in

The place was a mess even before the SWAT team broke in

Most of the mission is just spent trying to get through the myriad tunnels that make up The Order’s headquarters.  Since we’re in Limbo, we can’t do anything to stop the SWAT team from killing all of the people inside, or even slow them down from moving deeper into the complex.  Saving Kat is paramount since Virgil and Dante can both escape through Limbo, but these demons just aren’t letting up, and we have to carve our way through endless walkways and a new super-assassin-ninja demon before we finally get to Kat.

Mission 12: Under Siege – Kat’s pretty much stuck, but she’s able to make grapple points that I can pull through Limbo in order to affect the real world.  Nice to have a witch around sometimes.  With her pointing me at walls to break down, we sneak and crash our way through the headquarters in a rare no-fighting section of the game.  Seriously, I can’t even attack.  It adds a nice touch of drama, though, highlighting that Dante is significantly more bad-ass than humans, and shows Kat in a situation where she’s terrified, but still needs to move forward.

We head to the mainframe, where Virgil is.  He’s stuck in Limbo too (but gives us a shotgun), and needs Kat to run through the self-destruct sequence to make sure the enemy doesn’t get their hands on his data.  So we got SWAT guys coming for Kat in the real world, demons warping in from Limbo, and those two are clicking around on a computer.  Typical.  They basically let me know they need to stall for time, so we open the floor up for ten minutes or so of some serious demon-destroying, and the combat is still fun enough that these long ‘challenge room’ style segments still aren’t getting old.  After they finish priming the self-destruct, Dante and Virgil escape through Limbo, and Kat gets captured (roughly) by the bad guys.

Normally I love visitors, but that's just rude.

Normally I love visitors, but that’s just rude.

Mission 13: Devil’s Dalliance – We rejoin Virgil and Dante as they’re viewing a ransom video from Mundus.  It seems like Kat’s still alive, and Mundus just knows that Virgil’s the head of The Order, not that he’s Dante’s brother or also a Nephilim.  Mundus’ proposal is to trade Kat for Dante, but Dante suggests they take down Lilith and Mundus’ child, and use them for trade instead.  After some deep brother standoff, Dante heads off to Lilith’s club to take her down.

We’re not in there long before a demon spots us and drags us into Limbo.  Lilith herself is there as well, and she throws us through a gauntlet of enemies and platforming in order for use to challenge her.  Also, her unborn baby keeps on expanding her midsection, making it look more like she’s carrying an Alien chest-burster than a baby.  Eww.  The level design is pretty awesome, awash with lights and colors and lasers and sound, totally nightclub-inspired.  It’s flashy, it’s fun,  it’s fast-paced, and it lends itself well to the obstacle course setting by throwing a few new tricks at us.  The ninja-dude shows up again at the end, as well as more new variations on old enemies before we finally make it through the course and back to Lilith.

The level design is excellent

The level design is excellent

Mission 14: Last Dance – Woo, lots has happened!  Lilith decides that killing us would make her look pretty awesome in Mundus’ eyes, but it’s not her that does the killing.  The demon-baby explodes out of her, attached by an umbilical cord that connects to her head like some kind of grotesque ponytail.  Again, I’m giving the designers credit, because this is is a visceral, gross mass of boss-meat, and it’s perfect.

Also, it’s a slightly more interesting boss, since ‘baby’ is doing all the damage and protecting mommy for most of the battle.  Only when you deal enough damage to baby does he spit out mommy, allowing you to wail on her for a precious few seconds before he absorbs her back into his protective… guts.  Baby also only has one weak point, which you have to grapple to get to, so it’s much more of a cat-and-mouse routine than previous bosses, and a few deaths at the hands of this boss reminded me that Aquila may be fast, but it’s not powerful.  Note to self: use Rebellion when you want to deal damage.

A face only a mother could love

A face only a mother could love

Once we beat them both to a pulp, she’s taken back to our hideout, and our counter-offer is mailed back to Mundus.  He’s not really happy about this, and it seems like a good high note to end on.