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GAME REVIEW: Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization – Dive Back In To The World Of SAO!

 
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SWORD ART ONLINE: HOLLOW REALIZATION_20161120173832
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Overview
 

Published by: Bandai Namco
 
Platform(s): Playstation 4
 
Genre(s): Role Playing Game
 
Mode(s): Story
 
FG RATING
80%
80/ 100


User Rating
2 total ratings

 

Raves


Faithful adaptation of the hit anime series, interesting story, great visuals and performance

Rants


characters are not fully customizable. you only get to control one character, long dialogues/cut scenes,


Bottom Line

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is based on the well-loved and hit-anime series of the same name. In case you are not familiar with the franchise, Sword Art Online (SAO) is a manga created by Reki Kawahara and it is about a virtual reality MMORPG. Players who logged in the game are unable to log-out unless they […]

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Posted November 26, 2016 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

SWORD ART ONLINE: HOLLOW REALIZATION_20161120173832

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is based on the well-loved and hit-anime series of the same name. In case you are not familiar with the franchise, Sword Art Online (SAO) is a manga created by Reki Kawahara and it is about a virtual reality MMORPG. Players who logged in the game are unable to log-out unless they finish the game or they die in the game. Dying in-game would also mean dying in the real world. It’s a highly interesting and entertaining anime and I suggest you do watch it prior to playing this game.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is the fourth game in the series following Sword Art Online: Lost Song, Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment and Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment. I haven’t played any of the SAO games but from I what I’ve learned all games are based on the hit-anime series. The Sword Art Online games are developed by Bandai Namco and are released on the Playstation.

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STORY – Where the anime ends, the game begins.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization starts off from where the anime series ended. If you’re a fan of the hit series then you’ll be delighted to continue the adventures of Kirito and the rest of the gang. In SAO, players were trapped in the fantasy world of Aincrad, however, in Hollow Realization the game takes place in the Ainground, which is the same game only difference is that you could log-out at any time and if you die in-game, your still alive in the real world.

Kirito is back with Asuna, Yui, Sinon, Lisbeth, Klein, Agi and the rest of the SAO gang. I was able to watch the anime so seeing all these characters back brings a sense of familiarity; it’s like catching up and playing again with old friends. In Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, Kirito meets a nameless, default NPC whom they called Premiere.  The game is set in beta mode and Kirito and his friends felt like the developers haven’t completed Premiere yet or if she’s an anomaly in the game. Its up to Kirito and his friends to help Premiere know more about herself or her purpose in the game.

GAMEPLAY – An offline MMORPG.

As a fan of the anime, I really liked that Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization was able to stay faithful to the series. This is exactly how I imagined SAO to be if it were adapted into a game. Over time, you might have noticed that there has not been a lot of successful video game adaptations but Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization definitely makes that list.

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Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is a combination of a hack and slash and action-adventure RPG. You can fully customize your hero, though in-game, you still play as Kirito. You play in a party of four and you can choose among the other SAO characters to party up with you. However, you would need to locate them in-game before you’re able to party up. Also, you only get full control and customization of Kirito, all the other characters are controlled by AI. You only get to send different commands during gameplay.

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The mechanics of the games is a combination of button mashing and timely execution of combos. You hack, slash your enemies with light and heavy sword attacks and wait for your teammates signal to execute your combos or chain attacks. If you successfully connect your attacks, your damage multiplier increases and lets you defeats enemies faster. It may seem simple but it’s really different in-game. I actually have a different time connecting combos. At times, I tend to focus more on button mashing and missed the opportunities to execute the combos. It takes awhile before you get the hang of it but once you get through it, you’ll just breeze through your enemies. The game also allows you to choose between third-person or first-person view of the game.

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Just like any classic RPG, you level up by grinding/defeating monsters and completing quests. There are also different events and epic boss bottles scattered throughout the game. I managed to level up my character until level 9 before I started this review. Your skills level up depending on your choice of weapon. The more you use your weapon, the stronger it becomes so I suggest that you stick with a single weapon depending on your play style at the start of the game.

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Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is an offline single-player game with elements of an online MMORPG. In-game you get to see other players roaming around though all of them are NPCs. If you get to certain affection level with players, you could invite them to party up with you. However, it get’s awkward once you start to talk these NPCS as they all have preset responses which at times doesn’t make any sense. Also, some of the conversations/cut-scenes tends to get long, though I understand that they are an integral part of the story, I just wish there was an option to skip it. At the start of the game, you’ll spend more time reading through the conversations than actually playing the game.

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Another interesting part of Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is the Dating Simulation mini-game. Since Kirito is surrounded by mostly women, you could go out on dates around the city. If you get to certain affection level towards someone, you could hold hands with them, even do a bridal carry! This is nice break from leveling up or completing quests.

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VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

One of the best qualities about Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is it’s graphics and performance. The game was able to capture all the characters from the anime and the environments though pre-rendered are all colorful and sharp. Performance is great even if you have multiple things happening during battles the game doesn’t lag nor are there any noticeable drop in frame rates.  With that being said, your screen tends to be cluttered with all the numbers, health bars, commands and the faces of your teammates popping up on your screen. Not that it’ll distract you but there are times that it prevents you from seeing what’s happening.

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VERDICT

Being a Sword Art Online fan, I’m really satisfied with this video game adaptation. I liked that it’s an action-packed game mixed with all the elements of a traditional RPG. Also, it helps that you could play the game at your own pace. You don’t really feel the need to level up immediately as you have a lot of stuff that you can explore and do in the game.

What I think the game could improve on is it’s customization. It would be nice to control a character of your own choice or may be have the ability the switch between characters. It would also be nice if they could create an actual online MMORPG version of the game wherein you could play with actual players instead of NPCs.

Overall, even if you’re not familiar with the anime series but you’re a fan of action-adventure, hack and slash games and RPGs, then Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is a good pick-up for you.

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We would like to thank our friends from BANDAI NAMCO for letting us try Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization.

Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is now available in stores and digital download at the Playstation Store.


Ryan Villanueva

 
Your resident all around Flipgeek, from comics,movies,games,toys,music and even sports. A big Spider-man fan raised in the ways of the Jedi,who listens to punk rock and a sucker for chick flicks.


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