.hack//Mutation plays exactly like the first installment, Infection (for all those veterans of the series). Its a bit of a mix between real-time RPGs, Dungeon Crawlers, and Menu controlled time-based RPGs (is that possible?!?!?)
The main character – Kite (the guy in the orange outfit you see on the cover) – is actually the character on a game called “the World” played by the ACTUAL main character, who we never see. The World is a simulated MMORPG, made to look like there are other random characters running around who you can “talk/trade” with, but really you'll notice their limited responses soon enough! In other words, your playing as a guy who himself is playing as another guy, game within a game scenario. luckily they mostly cut out the middle man, and you control kite directly, only noticing his player when “logging out” of The World and checking emails etc. Its very well simulated!
It has an EXTREMELY engaging plot line, and awesome voice overs in both English AND Japanese (not to mention the manual is written in the original japanese manga format – read from right to left), and stunning graphics! Only down side is that the game play can get quite repetitive (thats where the dungeon crawling comes in and goes slightly wrong).
Over all a very good game and an even better buy if you are a fan of the series and/or already own one of the other .hack// games!