The story of Kite and BlackRose is so big that Bandai apparently needs four volumes to tell it. Part 2 takes over right where Part 1: Infection left off with your friend still in a coma, The World (the massive online RPG .hack is set within) falling apart at the seams, and the system administrator threatening to delete your character for all his goofy shenanigans.
Officially Sanctioned Cheating
Although the basic idea’s the same as Infection, Mutation features a few subtle adjustments that send the game’s play balance deep into left field. First and foremost is the addition of attributes as every weapon and enemy now reacts differently against certain elements. This adds strategy to battles—using the wrong elemental equipment can make your offense pitifully weak—but also makes Mutation more difficult than Infection. Even a powered-up Kite from Infection will die horribly on the Lambda server at first, and this problem’s only exacerbated by the puny EXP payouts you get from most monsters. Arrgh!
Once the pummeling stops, however, you’ll begin to notice the nicer things Cyber Connect 2 inserted into Mutation. The biggest step forward: Treasure chests can now hold real equipment instead of the same old status-ailment cures. (Now they’re worth looting again...finally!) You can also re-equip your entire party (not just Kite) this time, which is vital for dealing with the aforementioned attribute issues.
The Boxiest RPG in the World
Overall, Mutation is simply an extension of Infection—muddy graphics, questionable control, and a story concept that’s just interesting enough to keep you going. If you finished Infection, you might as well continue because the story’s finally (just slightly) starting to pick up. Newbies should have no problem starting with Part 2, either—just be prepared to spend some extra time leveling up.