Email me for Advertising Opportunities, Review and/or Preview Codes, Hardware Reviews, & Story Ideas

kaleb@cvgames.com

Dot.Hack: Part 2 Mutation

Developer: CyberConnect2 | Publisher: Bandai
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 05/06/03 | Genre: RPG

Remember the old song--2nd verse same as the first. This sums up Dot.Hack in a nutshell.

Dot.Hack is a one player RPG that is meant to look and feel like you are playing a MMORPG. If you don't know what a MMORPG odds are you have no game magazines or have never heard of the in-ter-net. But to humor people, a MMORPG is a Massive, Multiplayer, Online, Role, Playing, Game. This is a one player game made by Bandai that is trying to make a franchise out of a video game and doing it in reverse order. There was a cartoon on Cartoon Network and action figures before the 1st installment of the game even came out. Bandai was trying to create a "buzz" about the game. Did it work????? It worked on me.

****Disclaimer****

You must play the first game called Dot.hack Infection which should be in the preplayed section of your local Gaming store. Play that game first. Your data will be saved from the first game and is meant to be loaded into the 2nd installment. This game won't make a lot of sense or be fun to play without playing Dot.Hack Infection.

Mutation is part 2 in the Dot.Hack series of 4 games made by Bandai. You have to play all 4, which will be out by the end of September, to find out the whole story and the conclusion of the game. The game starts off just as the first one ended. They give you about a 5-minute refresher on what happened in Dot.Hack//Infection. It's very quick, but the first game (Infection) came out in March so it comes back rather quickly. Here's a brief recap if you have forgotten the story. Spolier alert for part 1 at the end of the next paragraph below!!!

Our main character, Kite, enters an advanced online game in our near future which is so realistic that everyone plays it. Problems arise, of course, and some strange stuff happens where people are falling into comas. Your best friend Orca falls into a coma after a character in the game attack him. Another mysterious character gives you a bracelet that allows you to �data drain� or change the monsters into weapons or items to help the characters along. Game one ends as a huge boss attacks you at the very end and Helba a good/bad girl comes and saves you. Whew! It sounds heavy, but it isn't.

Mutation starts you out on a new server with all new weapons, some new characters, some new �grunties� to raise, a new mini game called grunty racing, and of course your Anime DVD that comes with the game. You start the game with a main screne that look like your computer start up screen. Here you can receive e-mails from the fictional characters or change the music or wallpaper to your liking. The game can also be saved. From here you will log into "The World"

First there is the Grunties. The Grunties are pig-like creatures that you basically raise by feeding them items that are found on the field. You basically raise it to trade items with and now race around town to gain new items as well. You can also ride the Grunty around on each "field" server that you raise them on. Which allows you to explore the board without monsters attacking you.

Controls are the same as infection of course. Its a menu based system that pauses the action as you control the characters. Even though you can't tell them exactly what to do you can give them basic functions like magic, attack or skills. Its more important to equip the characters for the battle beforehand then to give out the correct instructions during battle. Your character (Kite) can Attack or hack and slash, use Magic or just sit back and watch the battle. I would make sure I would participate in every battle because the battles are slow as it is.

The Camera angles are in the right place most of the time and it does feel like a MMORPG. But you constantly have to move the camera with the R1 and L1 buttons and the R2 centers it as you travel through the fields and dungeons. It plays a lot like Phantasy Star Online, but the people online are obviously all computer AI. Remember it is a one-player game. You will see them in towns only and they are mostly used for trading items. Sadly, most of the computer characters (AI) are the same ones as in Part 1.

Speaking of Characters, some new characters can come with you on your quests but none of them offer any insight into the story. There is also something new, that is the affection levels you have with the characters. Meaning if you give certain items to certain characters and take them to the dungeons with you to fight they will e-mail you. If you answer their e-mails correctly they seem to respond to your commands better while fighting and there is a message at the end of the game from each of them before the end of the game. Not exactly a game altering quest but one that can keep you distracted throughout the game.

If you enjoyed Infection (part 1) all of the attributes that you enjoyed are still there. Improvements are very minor and subtle. The story and characters are developed more. You will meet a new Character called the Administrator who threatens to delete you and your character information. The weapons and armor classes are getting better and more creative. The new characters you meet and interact with are much more interesting and better looking. Plus, they actually have opinions and are starting to take the side of either good or evil. The boss battles are bigger and the music and graphics seem to be improved within the battles. But the music does get repetitive and you need to turn the radio on or the music off after 10 hours or less.

There are some side quests that involve meeting the new characters. You can bring them along and raise their affection levels to you. These new characters look good but again they are meaningless to the main story. Also the Goblin racing is back. The goblins will challenge you to beat them in a race (kill them) on the message board. Goblin racing is chasing around these goblins and kill them and then take their goblin items. When you beat them all you receive goblin items. When you equip these rare items it will summon a giant goblin for a special attack. Cool, but unnecessary.

Now the bad, I paid 50+ bucks for a game that is basically a continuation of the first game. Even worse I am going to spend another hundred just to see where this thing is going. This game really appeals to the "gotta catch them all" in us that must finish the story. People who enjoying leveling up characters to the maximum, trading for all the rare items and finding all the rare weapons and armor in the dungeons and fields. The new grunty racing is silly. Its fun for like 10 minutes and then you realize its not worth the time for the items they give you. Even though the story moves along, there is still no conclusion or any clue to where it is going. Not that I expected any conclusion in part 2. The games length is still only another 20 hours and it really burns you that you finish the game so quickly and you know that you are paying for the next one then part 4 as well. Second verse, same as the first....

If you don't own part 1//infection or have not played it, do NOT play this game. I suggest waiting until all 4 come out and then buy them all and play straight through. Hopefully, the ending in game 4 will be worth it. Don't get me wrong the game is addictive and a good idea for Bandai to make money. In reality, this should have been one game, maybe two... (barely). For a gamer or consumer it's very frustrating to keep supporting this, because other companies might adopt this policy. Which would make it end up costing me in the end. Now that I am hooked though I can't stop playing Dot.Hack and I will finish the game.... I will finish the game (bad young guns quote). I apologize for that.

By Matt Smith - 06/06/03
ESRB Details: Mature Sexual Themes, Mild Language, Violence
Tags:

Screenshots for Dot.Hack: Part 2 Mutation

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$