Over the course of the game's chapters, however, you'll quickly notice a very predictable structure: you get a mission from your captain, you reach the end of a dungeon, a few story sequences happen, and then a new chapter begins. Out of all twelve chapters, the story really doesn't start doing anything until... well, the end. By then, it's just too late to give a damn.
Don't think for a second that the plot's recovered by likable characters either - the main character alone will make you wish he had half the mettle of the leads from the old days. The voice acting is grating as well. The other characters feel like add-ons, and the few attempts at characterization are quite weak.
If that wasn't enough, the areas and dungeons in this one-player mode are exactly the same as what you get when you play online, except this time your allies aren't real - just really dumb. Going through all these dungeons with the ill-behaved, computer-controlled party members quickly gets tiresome. The dungeons themselves are pretty run-of-the-mill too - the objectives are usually nothing more than killing enemies in one room, then advancing to the next room to repeat the process. These dungeons work well online, but for a solo adventure, it's boring. In the end, it feels like a poor man's .hack. We're guessing Sega's intention was for the story mode to be played first, almost like a tutorial, but it just doesn't work.
You'll begin to forget the pain when you head online - you'll probably want to skip the story mode altogether, in fact. The missions and areas are exactly the same, but playing them with your buddies makes a world - or even a universe - of difference.