During the PS2 era I never really knew much about MMOs at the time. World of Warcraft was fresh and new, FFXI was perhaps the coolest thing on the PS2, and monthly fees weren’t exactly something my parents wanted from a video game. Queue in “.hack//Infection”, a PS2 RPG set in a fictitious MMO called “The World”.
As a kid growing up I couldn’t afford the entire .hack series on my own and I was only given games from report cards or my birthday so by those times there was always a really cool new game that was released. I originally played the first at my cousin’s house and then just bought my own copy so I could finish it. I believed I played the first two hours of that game at least five hours or more.
I think what attracted me most about .hack//Infection had to be its quirkiness. It didn’t play like any RPG at the time since it had some MMO mechanics to it. You had party members who would level up with or without you, become unavailable at certain times during the game, and had the ability to trade stuff with you (even though they almost always had crap items). To this day the .hack games are the only RPGs I know of where to get better items and equipment you trade with other NPCs because they were not available in the town stores. You also upgraded equipment by going to these ponds where a huge water drop asked if you dropped either a golden axe or silver axe. Depending on the weather, level of the area, and type of server you’re on is whether the gear will come out upgraded, downgraded, or stayed the same. This game also had the most punishing save system I’ve seen on a PS2 RPG with dungeons that can last an hour or more and only being able to save in the towns or desktop.
The story was amazing, it really pulled me in as a kid and having played the beginning so many times the song that stuck out the most was “Grassland Noon” or “Fields” I think it’s called. It plays in grassland areas and since it’s the first song you hear when you get to your first game area it really signifies a new beginning and a sense of wonderment.
Armed with nothing but a guitar and a line-in to USB cord, me and my friend Adrian Cruz made a cover of the song adding our own little flair and paying tribute to the series and the game.
You can download the song here.