Category: Playstation 2


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.



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!!


It’s been a crazy week, with work and life and stuff, so I haven’t had any time to game lately!

Still in Unmatched Worst Abyss, we jumped straight into the dungeon this time.  Piros’ said that there’s a jerk player down in the dungeon who’s ripping people off for items.  We plowed through the dungeon with little effort, managed to score a level up, and a couple of virus cores in the process.  When we hit the last room, we found out that it was all a big misunderstanding, and Piros ran off embarrassed.  Once we were back in Fort Ouph, we saw that we had a new email and no further story missions, so we logged out to check it.


Castlevania’s Alucard is pissed that they stole his name

It was from Wiseman, and he was instructing everyone to meet in Lia Fail for the next operation against the corrupting Wave.  The plan is to head to Cruel Vindictive Scars and Lios’ Admin team will drive the Wave towards us.  From there we just Data Drain it, and Bob’s your uncle.  I doubt it. Oh wait, except for the fact that I need more virus cores.  Again!  We hit a couple areas on the server to acquire the necessary J Cores, and then headed where we were supposed to go.

After we cleared the Field and the Dungeon, we made our way into what looked like the ‘important’ room to capture the Wave.  Unfortunately, nothing was there.  Lios informed us that the various Waves were all disappearing, and it looked like our trap was a bust.  Helba managed to track the data, though, and pointed us to Sigma‘s Graceful Tempting Fallen Angel.  We’re just gonna keep going, so we swapped servers and crashed through the Chaos Gate!


Suddenly… difficulty.

Luckily, no hacking this time.  Good.  It’s also a Lv. 76, so my 77 party should be able to crack another level, with any luck.  It was a Wood element field, so we managed to pick up some mushrooms while running around, too. By the time we cleared the field, all the members had hit 78, and we were still in good shape.  We hit the dungeon, but the experience was minimal and the treasure lacking, so we skipped right through it without clearing chests or portals.  Once we got to the bottom level, we ran into Mia and Elk, and after some cutscenes, it was time to fight the boss!


Do those petals have eyes in them? Eww…

Another Phase boss, so it’s gonna be a big one!  We opened with my usual salvo of everyone on skills, using up redundant spells, and keeping an eye on HP while we got a handle on him.  No Phase boss so far has been a simple fight, and mirroring actual MMORPGs, they tend to be very, very long and annoying.  For the first while it’s just hammering away and doing crap-all for damage while it fires intermittent large attacks and status effects out the wazoo.  The battle as a whole wasn’t particularly difficult, but every time she Charmed my whole party, I was certain we were going to bite it.  Not so, though, and after a wailing on it for a while, we finally got a Protect Break.  After a Data Drain, it was pretty simple, and we just kept up the same attack patterns.  Once we beat it, we got another cutscene with Elk and Mia, before Lios let us know that all the Waves have come back.  Looks like we’re continuing the mission where we left off, so it’s back to Omega Server.


I can’t remember exactly when he turned into coral, but I like it

Once we were back on Omega, we did some quick armor swapping, reloaded our inventory, and headed back to  Cruel Vindictive Scars for the second time.  On the second run through an area, the enemies really don’t have that much to offer, so we ignored the field and headed straight into the dungeon.  We hit the bottom level in no time, and Lios informed us that the Wave had somehow picked up strength.  It had consumed part of our vaccine, and created an antibody for it, and then destroyed Lios’ Admin Team.  We were just about to abort the mission again, when Aura appeared and took the third Segment that we’d picked up from Macha.  Cubia showed up right behind her, as usual, and we were dragged into another Cubia Core fight.  Despite being time-consuming, they’re pretty easy, so we just hammered away at the Core until we finally beat it.

We warped back to Lia Fail and rounded up all of our allies from the game.  They’re our new strike team, and we’re going to finish this operation!  But later, ’cause I’m done for the night.


I was playing around with an idea earlier today.  What if I played Quarantine on my PC, via emulator, instead of on my PS2?  While I’m a big fan of playing on the ‘original’ system, emulation would let me amp up the resolution and take my own screenshots, and I can still output it to the same TV I use for the PS2.  I already had an emulator installed so I just stuffed my disc in the drive and it was up and running, but it was a little tricky to get my save file transferred from my PS2 card into the emulator.  There’s no way I’m dumping all the progress from the previous volumes (Seriously, eff that).  But I managed to get it working using a bit of black magic, and a couple tools floating around on the internets.  So now it’s Quarantine HD, baby!

How much better does that look?!

How much better does that look?!

And holy crap, the different it makes.  Suddenly, this is all seeming so much more compelling.  Does that make me a graphics whore?  It’s not the graphical quality, it’s the clarity that has me drooling.  Anyways, we picked up a few emails in our box from Piros and Moonstone, with new objective areas.  We’ll hit Piros’ first, since it’s a lower level.  We warped into Sigma server, called him and Wiseman, and trooped off to Unmatched Worst Abyss.  I figure we’ll clear the portals until the XP starts to look dry, and then plow through the rest.  Unfortunately, by the time the portals were clear it was already 2AM, after getting this whole thing set up and working.  Le sigh, we’ll plug a few hours in tomorrow.


Part 4, The Revenge of the Final Chapter!

Part 4, The Revenge of the Final Chapter!

Wow, I cannot believe I still haven’t beaten this damn series/game.  But it was sitting in my Backloggery with a big “Unfinished” over it, and when I loaded up the save file, totally not end-game.  Crap.  I’ve been slowly playing this series (veeeeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy slowly) for I don’t know how many years.  The game just doesn’t engage me on any level, but I still want to finish it and find out the story, so I’ll play for a couple days here and there every… year?  Rargh.  But this time, we end this!  Quarantine, you’re going down, and I’m gonna cap this friggin’ series if it’s the last thing I do.


BlackRose is so pushy…

We started off in Lia Fail (hah. Fail.), the new Omega Server hub-town for Part 4.  We gave it a quick jog around, grabbed some new, much higher level armor, and set off into Bigoted Snowflake’s Capsule, which is also the only word in the Word List.  So… we’re probably really near the beginning.  Sigh.  And, best of all, we don’t actually warp there.  We have to hack the Gate.  Another aspect of this game that drives me crazy, and I’d completely forgotten.  If I’d had the necessary cores, this wouldn’t be as big a deal, but I’m missing “I” cores.  Dammit.

So instead, we head back to Sigma Server to hit up Chatting Snaring Twins in hopes of finding some I virus cores, bring BlackRose and Wiseman with me, since they’re pretty much gonna be my established party from now on. We cleared the field and the dungeon, and managed to score a couple I Cores, so we’re heading right back to Bigoted Snowflake’s Capsule and let’s get on with it.  As a side note, I’d just like to reiterate how infuriating the equipment system in this game is.  Good equipment only available by trading, you have to indirectly equip your NPC helpers, there’s no unified system to for equipment management and detailing… just such a time-sink, for something that should be easy.


So is Nuke! What’s with this game?

We plowed through the area, ignoring the topside for it’s negligible experience, and blasted through the dungeon.  Since it’s a story mission, naturally we have to Data Drain the boss before we can kill it, but it was even easy to get his Protect Break, so maybe I’m finally on level par for this game?  I haven’t felt on level par for quite some time.  I did another random field as well, of my level (72) to get some real experience before heading to the next area, and again scoured the world for new weapons and armor.  We picked up the next code word in the city as well, and headed back to Sigma Server.

Screaming Wind Sand’s Fate Castle is our next step (is it just me, or are the names getting longer?).  No problems hacking through this one, luckily.  This whole are was below our level again, so I basically skipped everything I could.  We got treated to a monologue from Harald about mutation and evolution, but I’m long past the philosophy at this point.  We took out another boss, and warped back to Fort Ouph.  When we got there, we met up with Elk, who’s still looking for Mia.  BlackRose says that he might as well stick with us, we’re sure to attract Mia’s attention sooner or later.  Elk agrees, so I guess I have another Wavemaster I can pull now.  No offence, Wiseman.

Also, Fort Ouph’s music sends me into a coma every time I hear it.  It’s good, it’s just soft and repetitive.  I’ve just come to associate it with falling asleep on the couch.  Tonight is no different.  Taking off, we’ll do more later.