The Worlds of .hack//G.U.

A game this unusual deserves a guide to its realms

What's fake? What's real?

Ignoring the far-flung sci-fi of Xenosaga or the otherworldliness of Final Fantasy, .hack//G.U. takes place in the real world and the near future - 2017. When you begin the game, instead of being instantly teleported to a bizarre new reality, you're confronted with a simulation of a computer desktop screen... with plenty of options you'll recognize from the here and now.

Above: You'll launch your adventure from a computer desktop - the Altimit Mine OS

According to the developers, CyberConnect 2, a lot of thought went into the technology that would drive players to The World R:2 in 2017. The game's director, Hiroshi Matsuyama, explains: "The players can experience the evolution of technology of the future by checking the offline portion of the game in the desktop. For instance, news items are now distributed in movie formats and there are also shows that are available to download."

When it come to the fictional players of The World R:2 themselves, " 2017 [players] use the M2D (Micro Monocle Display) that is much lighter and has a wider field of vision. The controller they hold in their left hand is also completely wireless." To further the sense of immersion, the movies you'll download to your fictional desktop "...are all new animation. This animation will be closely linked to the gameplay..." Instead of including separate anime DVDs this time around, the developers have integrated the scenes directly into the game itself in the form of news reports and web shows. You'll also again be able to participate in forum discussions about the game, send and receive email, and other tasks that simulate a gamer's real life.

It's no surprise that Matsuyama describes the setting of .hack//G.U. as "elaborate". It bridges the gap between the real world and the game world.