Dot Hack Mutation

In 2002, Bandai began to release in Japan the first four-part Dot Hack videogame series for the PlayStation 2, based on the Dot Hack Sign anime, beginning with Infection, the games starting to see English release in North America the following year. Dot Hack Mutation is the second part of the original game franchise, and provides an experience on par with its predecessor.

Combat is almost exactly the same as in the first game, save for the introduction of enemies totally resistant to physical or magical attacks, adding a degree of strategy, although when choosing the A.I. option for allies to execute either kind of attacks, they’ll regress to using regular physical attacks afterward. Death is also still punishing, with no saving outside towns, but fights are quick and help the game more than hurt.

The interface is also largely the same, with character management being troublesome, given the inability to view and manage characters outside the protagonist’s party, although the linear structure largely keeps players moving in the right direction.

As in the first game, the primary quest to awaken Kite’s friend Orca out of his game-induced coma never seems terribly urgent, although there is a minor degree of character development in email conversations in the operating system interface, so the story does have its merits.

Musically the game is also the same, one of the best tracks being the somber “Harald’s Theme,” although many tracks in dungeons rely too heavily upon ambience like before. The voice acting is top-notch, though, and the aurals, like other aspects do have their merits.

The graphics remain unchanged, with some nice aesthetic choices like before such as virus-stained environments and floating digits, although as before, character models only show emotion during CGI cutscenes, and some of the environmental texturing is bland.

Finally, the sequel is short like its predecessor, around ten to fifteen hours long, with plenty of lasting appeal given the endless variety of fields and dungeons the character can visit. Overall, Dot Hack Mutation is a solid sequel for the most part on par with its predecessor, sharing its high and low points, that fans of the first game alone will enjoy, although those that didn’t like the original won’t find anything to celebrate.

The Good:
+Same as previous game.

The Bad:
-Same as previous game.

The Bottom Line:
If you liked the first game, you’ll like the second.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 5/10
Story: 6/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Moderate
Playing Time: 10-15 Hours

Overall: 7.5/10

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