The Mark of Kri was released nationwide today. As one of the more anticipated titles for the PS2, I thought it important to get a review up right away. So, I have sunk about 10 hours into the game now and I am happy to report that it is extremely fun and very well made. Despite a few minor flaws, the game flows very well and all the gore and violence we were promised is here in full force.
In the game, the player takes the role of Rau. He is a typical na?ve warrior hoping to one day live up to his father, who is known through the land as a mighty warrior. As he is a young barbarian, he often makes decisions too quickly and prefers to rush into situations with sword held high. The plot is just as typical. In the beginning, the player will do some bounty-hunting type missions and eventually become legendary and save the world. Nothing we haven’t heard before, but it is executed well anyway.
The first thing you will want to do is delve into the combat ? this is an action game, after all. I am happy to report that the fighting system is absolutely superb and unique. With the right analogue stick, an “aiming cursor” can be moved around the screen. As it passes over an enemy, it is marked with one of the four controller buttons. Pressing the respective button causes Rau to attack the specified enemy. This eliminates any hassle to the combat and lets the player focus on the most important thing: killing! However, it’s not so simple. The player can chain up to four enemies at once, and tapping the buttons allows Rau to fly from enemy to enemy, performing glorious combos that (hopefully) result in a huge bloody pile of corpses.
However, don’t think you will be able to charge into every situation with your sword blazing. Quite often, you will have to Switch to your bow and arrow to eliminate enemies from a distance. Also, it is imperative at times to take enemies out Solid Snake style ? sneaking up on them and breaking their neck before they have time to utter a sound.
Speaking of sound, it is also very well done. As Rau hacks enemies to pieces, very accurate sounds will emanate from their severed bodies. Satisfying crunches occur when Rau twists an enemies neck just far enough. Heads hit the floor with a wonderful melon-thumping sound. Non-combat related sound effects are very good as well. Most all ambient objects make some sort of noise, from birds to waterfalls to the wind.
However, the voice acting is terrible. I’m not sure if it’s really bad, really over-acted, or (quite likely) both. The narrator over-emphasizes everything. If this was done intentionally, it does not fit the game at all. The narrator in this game sounds like he would be better off in Resident Evil or House of the Dead. The in-game characters aren’t quite as bad, but they aren’t good either.
As for the graphics; well, they are hard to describe. The game uses cel-shading, but it is not used to the same effect as titles such as Jet Set Radio. In JSR, every object looked like it was a 3d object smashed up against a window. This is not the case here at all. While the objects are given a very cartoon-like look, they remain very visibly 3d and rendered.
Overall, the graphics are excellent. The animation is top notch, and it makes for some very fun to watch combat. Rau will smash enemies’ faces into walls, decapitate them, and even slaughter their lifeless bodies. Enemies die very smoothly, and spew blood and wiggle around for a few seconds after they die. The Mark of Kri took the important video game element of murdering people and made it very beautifully animated.
Well, there’s not much else to say. What we have here is an excellent action title with nonstop murderous fun. It will satiate the most blood-thirsty gamer for many hours. Graphics are great, sound is great, and the controls are very unique and well implemented. The game suffers from some bad loading time and even worse voice acting, but it does not hinder the game very much at all. I strongly suggest checking this game out.