Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment comes as another revitalized PS Vita game brought to the PS4 as a conversion with extras. However, with its dated looks and grinding gameplay, how well does the transition to console hold up and is it worth the surprisingly small asking price.
Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment Review:
After so many hours dipped into Aquria’s PS4 “Director’s Cut” of the PS Vita Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment it becomes clear that there’s a lot to like about the simulated MMO style game when playing solo offline, but also a fair amount of frustration. To begin, you can create a male or female avatar in the simulated world although if you go for the latter the game makes no recognition of this as you continue to assume the role of main male hero Kirito. The basic premise is simple enough, undertake quests, find boss location, gather info on boss then team up with whoever is suitable and take them down – rinse and repeat. Between all of this there’s the option to wander around towns and date the leading female characters – even hop into bed with them for a chat – which as mentioned is at odds if you opt for a female avatar and want to play it straight even though sexual references are merely hinted at rather than full blown. Aside from all of the long winded dialogue before you get into the action, and boy there’s a lot of fluff here, you’ll find some reasonable gameplay that offers a fair amount of depth if you can stomach the constant battle with the dialogue. In many ways there’s lots to do here spiced up with some hands on hack and slash style turn based combat which is actually fun and engaging once you suss out how it works. Ultimately, the game’s lack of overall excitement outside of the combat leaves it a rather underwhelming experience unfortunately.
The game does boast some fairly entertaining characters to interact with where it’s pleasant the first time getting the character of your desire to hop into bed with you for a chat, but the fact that the purpose of doing so (raising the affinity of the chosen character) requires multiple bedding moments that all play out in a similar way makes it a chore rather than something enticing. That said, there’s a lot of optional elements on offer and it’s quite satisfactory to simply ignore these and just develop skills for your hero, or heroine and leave it at that.
The combat is perhaps the most accomplished aspect of the game and it’s here where players can team up with up to 100 other characters and fight across an assortment of play areas such as the levels 76 – 100 designed for beginners and the Hollow Area for seasoned pros. There’s simply a lot on offer which for purists is fantastic. Anyone else might feel a little overwhelmed at first with a lack of clear goal and convoluted menus to make sense of barring overall enjoyment levels. With more hours under the belt, what the game wants you to do makes sense and falls into typical role playing game territory except there’s just a touch of familiarity about the whole affair which makes the game’s premise feel old and a little worn out.
In terms of visuals the graphics show their Vita roots with no real expense spared in making the textures up to par with what’s expected on the PS4. Despite some overall sharpness giving the game a clean look, and 60 frames per second in places, there are noticeable massive dips in frames in the populated areas which reach criminally low levels quite often. The game is simply poorly optimized despite the graphics not really pushing the hardware – or at least appearing not to do so. Aside from the niggles, there’s a reasonable amount of level variety despite an abundance of generic enemies to do battle with, with the only caveat to perhaps lower one’s expectations to begin with to lessen the blow. It’s also disappointing to have many scenes played out via text with animated images of characters in their default poses rather than actually seeing what’s being described, which does take a away some of the game’s potential charm as there are some genuinely amusing moments and unusual themes to ponder.
Audio offers some pleasant music tracks to listen to whilst in town and out in the field, but everything else is in Japanese which is authentic sounding and well acted, however the lack of English localization is a shame. There’s simply a lot of dialogue for every moment which breaks up the action a bit too much at times, although an amusing script for those paying attention is worth listening to if you’ve got the time or patience.
Players can expect to sink many hours here with the base game offering plenty to do as players strive to reach floor 100. However a slew of extra content for this version adds on a further 30 or so hours which means players certainly get their monies worth considering the sub £20 price point from the PSN. The added multiplayer mode is also a welcome feature and means players can tackle various areas without the shackles of the story pulling them back which seems like a better way to approach the game overall if you’re just wanting in on the action.
Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment is a cheaply priced game aimed at fans who want to experience some extras over the Vita version and play the handheld game on the PS4. Whilst the conversion leaves little to be desired in terms of performance and the visuals dated for a PS4 title, the gameplay still has some neat elements going for it if you’ve the will to invest the time in learning each facet on offer here. For casual action gamers there’s perhaps a little too much fluff which ends up being overly distracting, but anyone else who can exercise a bit of patience will find an entertaining game here to while the hours away.