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Hands-On With Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization At Madfest 2016

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As an experienced yet begrudging “follower” of the long-running multimedia franchise Sword Art Online, I have never experienced anything from it more than that of it’s video game adaptations. While the series, in my humble opinion, leaves much to be desired in terms of character and story development, the game’s allow one to create their own adventure accompanied by familiar faces from the series.

Knowing how popular the series and it’s offshoots still are in recent times, Bandai Namco Entertainment, as a part of their gameplay area at this year’s Madfest, featured a short demo of the upcoming Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization PlayStation 4 title. A fitting addition to the showroom floor, this game was never without a player regardless of the time of day, and that also includes myself…of course.

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At it’s very core; Hollow Realization isn’t too different from previous Sword Art Online video game titles which, despite what you may think, is actually more a positive than a negative. Unfortunately no story segments were present in the demo featured at the convention, so a comment on that I simply cannot make, my hope is that it takes what had been developed in previous iterations and runs with it wholeheartedly; something I imagine would be the case.

Hollow Realization plays in much the style of an RPG-heavy hack ‘n’ slash game visually disguised as an MMORPG; something that represents the basis of the in-series Sword Art Online video game perfectly. To your side you have companions who will aid you in any which way you can as you travel the fictional landscape of Sword Art Online completing missions reminiscent of classic RPG titles eventually building up to a climactic ending. This is how all previous SAO video games have played out and, from what I’ve experienced of this new one, it looks as though this will be much the same.

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The most drastic change from the last title to this is it’s visual presence which, thanks to the powerful processing powers of the PlayStation 4, have allowed developers to create what I will call the best-looking Sword Art Online video game to date. While all the key visual features still remain, Hollow Realization is much more than just a fresh coat of paint on a rusty title. As it stands, Hollow Realization is simply another great addition to the short but enjoyable list of Sword Art Online games previously released. My only hope is that it does not feature the one thing that ruined the Anime series for me (and many others)…a heavy-handed story.

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