Review by Clowd

Reviewed: 05/10/03 | Updated: 05/10/03

Part 2 of the Best story in RPG history!

.Hack//Infection was quite a fun time, the story for it was like a wild-goose chase. .Hack//Mutation continues the SAME STORY from where .Hack//Infection left off abruptly. Mutation is much better, as the problems in Infection only get amplified and more interesting. I had to force myself to stop playing after 3 hours!

Story: 10/10
THE BEST RPG storyline I've ever seen. .Hack is a long story, covering several types of media (Anime, novel, OVA, Magna, and PS2 Game) that revolves around the online game called ''The World''. ''The World'' was the first new online game to be released after the World-Wide computer network crashed from the virus ''Pluto's Kiss''.

In the Game, you play as Kite, a complete newbie to the game, who is invited to play ''The World'' by his friend Orca (Yasuhiko in real life). While Orca was showing Kite how to play in a newbie dungeon, they encountered an invincible enemy, and Orca fell into a coma in real life. After this, a mysterious white girl, who is apparently being chased by this creature that put Orca into a Coma, gives Kite an illegal in-game power. As Kite, you are on a quest to find out why Orca is in a Coma, and if possible, revive him.

Infection was merely an introduction to the main plot and most of the game's important characters, it isn't until Mutation that you learn a lot about the current situation in ''The World''. If you loved the complexity in the movie ''The Matrix'' you will enjoy the story of .Hack. If you have not played .Hack//Infection, and beaten it, you will be lost in the events that happen in .Hack//Mutation.

Unlike most RPGs today, .Hack//Mutation's story isn't told mainly through cut-scenes, but through the dialogue, interaction of characters, the e-mail you receive and posts on the message boards.

Game Play: 8/10
The Game play is nice and solid, with a very nice learning curve, you'll understand how to play within the first half-hour of playing the game. .Hack//Infection gives a tutorial on how to play, but Mutation doesn't. The game play in .Hack//Mutation hasn't changed much since the first one, with the exception being Grunty races (Puchiguso races in the Japanese version). The battle style is quite nice, you encounter enemies in huge, wide-open fields and dungeons and fight them in real time. Like any RPG, you level up by fighting and have a party of up to 2 other people besides Kite. The camera isn't a problem, but you must control where the Camera views from, probably the only problem I have with the Game play. The overall game time for Mutation is greater than Infections, an estimated 18 hours of game time before you finish the game (that is, without rushing through it).

You can carry over your ''Flag File'' From .Hack//Infection over to Mutation, so you can continue with all the equipment, items, and stats you had at the end of .Hack//Infection.

The game is played in 2 different areas, the game ''The World'' itself, and Kite's computer, where you can check out the boards for ''The World'' and check you e-mail, save, and check out the latest ''Fake News''.

Graphics: 9/10
The graphics are nicely done, and everything looks distinct and different in the various areas of the game. The only problem I have is that the dungeons 'lack furniture'. but other than that, the graphics are nearly as good as Final Fantasy 10. The cut-scenes are more abundant in .Hack//Mutation than in .hack//Infection, and they are much done much better.

Sound & Music: 10/10
The sound and music of the .Hack universe is amazing! The music is perfect for each area and every spell, every clang of a sword against the flesh of an enemy sounds very nice. The music even rivals the Final Fantasy series, especially the vocal songs in the OVA.

.Hack//Mutation comes with part 2 of the .Hack//Liminality series, in the case of Yuki Aihara. This one contains new hidden areas for .Hack//Mutation, and shows how ''The World'' is starting to affect the real world. Also, the Virus Pluto's Kiss may be returning!

Overall: 9/10
I never give ANY RPG a perfect 10, there is always something that can be improved upon, and there is always a flaw or 2 in the game, but .Hack//Mutation greatly surpassed what I had expected from it, it is like a great book you just never want to put down. However, like all stories, this one ends as well.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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