Overall - 70%
It is hard to recommend Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization to anyone who isn't already a Sword Art fan. The story just takes so long to get into and you can't skip the cut scenes. If you are a fan of Sword Art on the other hand, the combat and co-op is enough to make this game enjoyable.
Sword Art Online Hollow Realization tries to capture the essence of the anime in video game form. Is the game worth picking up and playing? Check out this Sword Art Online Hollow Realization Review to find out if you should be picking it up.
SAO: Hollow Realization Review
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization follows the story of Kirito, Asuna, or a new character you create. If you choose to create a character, that character takes the place of Kirito or Asuna. A new game has come out called Sword Art Origins, and you and your friends have been invited to beta test the game. Most of the key characters from the anime series make appearances and are involved with the story. While beta testing the game, you find a quest NPC called Premier. After follow her quest line, you find out that she is either bugged or that her quest is hidden and is waiting to be discovered. This involves protecting her from monsters and other players who are killing NPCs, because they think they can get good gear from it. As you progress, it becomes more complicated. Without spoiling anything, I will say that the story takes a bit to get going, as the pacing wasn’t fantastic.
The game world itself is basically an offline MMO. You have a town with merchants that you can buy gear and items. There are tons of AI players roaming the game like you would find in a typical MMO. While you are out questing, you will find other random AI players roaming and hunting as well. The game world is designed like you would expect an MMO to be, which is nice. You can interact with random NPCs, get them to become you friend, and then ask them to join you on missions. You can also completely ignore them and just roll out with characters from the series. It is nice not to be stuck playing with characters you might not enjoy.
Battling in Hollow Realization is done very well. It is quick, and you can feel great about landing kill combos on enemies. The best part is, you don’t have to be good at the game to feel good at combat. You can easily just come across a couple of key combos and get through a lot of encounters without much trouble. If you take on an enemy at a much higher level than you are, you will of course be defeated. If you keep within the level range of your foes, you can do fine with basic combos. That said there is a lot of room to experiment with different weapons, skills, and even AI attacks for people looking for an in-depth combat system. One downside is that the AI can be a bit dumb. They listen to you for combo attacks, switch attacks and dodges, but when I asked a healer to heal, she used a potion instead of her heal ability. You do have to rely on yourself for most things outside of basic and skill attacks.
There is also Co-op with up to four players online. The thing is, you need to get 10-12 hours in before it even becomes available to play. The game is designed to be an MMO, so why not just start of with co-op? Still, once you get it, the game becomes more fun. You can explore the world with competent allies and take on some of the harder creatures. Random events will pop up that have you killing certain foes for treasure. You can even do side quests while you are online, which is nice because there are a ton of side missions in the game. You can bring an AI with you as well, making the team size rise from four to eight if everyone brings an AI. There are also bosses that require a certain amount of players to bring down, as they also drop the best gear. I didn’t run into many issues online either, with only a couple of disconnects.
One other thing you need to worry about is the relationships you have the your teammates. They will fight certain ways depending on when you praise them. For instance, if you praise them during a skill attack, they become more likely to use a skill attack again. Each AI comes with various perks that you can raise by encouraging them during combat. You can also turn off the perks you don’t want your companions having. On top of them fighting better, you can also give gifts to your allies if they like you enough. This means you can give them new weapons and armor, which also makes them better fighters. The system is a bit slow and can be very tedious if you are trying to max out a relationship with someone. It would have been better to just let the player equip the AI with what they wanted.
It is hard to recommend Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization to anyone who isn’t already a Sword Art fan. The story just takes so long to get into and you can’t skip the cut scenes. If you are a fan of Sword Art on the other hand, the combat and co-op is enough to make this game enjoyable.