Review by MeoTwister5

"Where more of the same is still good....."

It's been 3 months since Infection came, and it started a very intriguing storyline that, assuming it's as big as I think, spans 4 games in the course of a year. Here we see Mutation, the second installment in the series that has shown much promise with the first game.

Story: 9/10

First off, being a direct continuation rather than sequel, there is a brief flashback that explains in rather lacking detail the events of the previous game. That being said, it may be a bit hard for newcomers to understand the early premise without playing the first game, however those who have played Infection will be able to jump right in as this installment begins exactly where the last game left off.

To be brief, you are Kite, a young player to the online game ''The World'' who is searching for information about the sudden coma of his friend while playing. The last game didn't produce much plot as it was more of an introduction, but here the plot picks up and the bad side of ''The World'' begins to unravel. The problem is that it's just that, an unraveling. While the plot itself is very intriguing and the mysterious events will grab you and not let go, the game doesn't produce much plot as some would like, although the game's ending is one of the most gripping cliffhangers I've encountered in a while.

Graphics: 9/10

The game uses the same graphics engine as the first game. That to say, the graphics aren't bad. They're actually pretty good. The in-game cinemas use higly detailed character models that outdo many games I've seen so far, but that's just in the cinemas. The regular character graphics are still good. The town graphics are still nice, and the new town in this game, Carmina Gadelica, which lies in an eternal cycle of night looks jawdropping with lights all around. As for the dungeons.... well.... it's still randomly generated. As it is the dungeons are reused and rather repetetive, and I could hope that Bandai improves this aspect.

Gameplay: 9/10

What can I say? Same o'l, same o'l. Basically it's in real time where you have one button for attacking the enemy. To use skills, magic, items etc., you pull up the menu and select it there. This sort of breaks up the otherwise fast paced combat in the game. In the first game this wasn't much of a problem, but here where status changing and status tolerant monsters mutliply faster than rabbits on a hot day, I ended up pulling out the menu every few seconds. Also, the ever useful trade feature returns. Here you can trade up to 99 pieces of up to 3 types of items to other players in the game for another piece of item/equipment. This makes it much more convenient to get the items you want rather than slogging through a dungeon.

Thankfully, Bandai added the ''Convert'' feature for those who have played and finished the previous game (Like me =)). Here, when you have finished the previous game and obtained the data flag, you can load that into Mutation. It carries over everything. All your items, equipment, statistics, levels, grunties etc. get loaded into Mutation. This is a big bonus and godsend, allowing you to have more items and be stronger to better prepare you for the road ahead. Plus, if you've been collecting items, you can trade for some of the best items in the game from the very beginning. You can, however, start a game without loading. The thing is, you start with very little items, relatively low levels and rather weak equipment that it makes you easy fodder for many of the new enemies. Based on experience, I can't imagine how Bandai could assume that what they gave you on an non-loaded game was enough to defeat the last boss of the previous game.

Controls: 10/10

It's still very tight and responsive. The only comment I'm starting to admit is the camera, which is rather slow to turn, making it a bit difficult to adjust when fast moving enemies get away from view. Otherwise the controls are more than enough for the fast-paced combat you're bound to encounter.

Audio: 9/10
The sound efffects are still kind of weird, but the music itself is very well done. Plus since the music transition from field-to-battle is seamless. And thank God it doesn't sound like synthesized music. Also, Harald's Piano Theme is rather haunting but great to listen to, and I have it as my in-game desktop BGM.

3 MONTHS!! I have to wait 3 more months for game 3?!?! NNNNNOOOOO!!! *pant* Er.... oh well. This game promises and very intriguing plot that, according to those who imported, will reach new and great heights in game 3. But 3 months? It's worth the wait I tell you!! And while we're all salivating in anticipation, go get this game if you haven't. And while you're looking for this, go get Infection if you haven't as well. You won't regret it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/02/03, Updated 06/02/03

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