Review by rlasker3

Reviewed: 08/05/02 | Updated: 08/05/02

Put the kids to bed for this one and enjoy.

The Mark of Kri provides some of the best combination of good story telling, top notch graphics, and innovative action that I’ve seen from a game in a while. From the very beginning you are hooked into the story by its unique approach to the way it is told.

The story starts just like the original Conan the Barbarian movie with a deep bellowing, Mongolian type voice, telling the story of Rau in a past tense (always referring to him as “My Master”). Meanwhile the screen slowly draws pictures to help tell the tale in high quality Disney type style. They pull it off very, very well and you’ll love how they transition to the actual game.

STORY: 10/10
- The best aspect of this story is that Rau doesn’t have any clue about what he is getting into. It starts with Rau simply wanting to prove his warrior status by ridding the land of outlaws and in his quest for adventure decides to take a quest from the wrong person. He soon finds himself in the midst of the Mark of Kri which are six glyphs that when combined form a scroll to open a portal to the dark world. Again, the quality of the voice action and interesting cut scenes makes it just as enjoyable to watch as it is to play.

GRAPHICS: 9/10
- The graphics are richly detailed and the environments are beautiful. Maybe not the best that you’ve seen but they definitely do not detract from game play what so ever. The introduction of the aforementioned Disney type graphics allowed the developers to not have to focus on ultra realism while still providing high quality. This in combination with the slowly drawn out cut scene graphics used for story telling goes together so well and creates great transitions.

GAMEPLAY: 9/10
- There are two distinct fighting systems at play here: hack and slash fighting and stealth action. Both are done with great results. The hack and slash is fairly easy to pick up. Use the right analog stick to set your “focus” on opponents. Once an opponent is selected he is assigned a corresponding button on you controller. No more than three buttons are ever used for fighting, X, O and square. But, it is more advantageous to try to not select the maximum amount because any open button that is not assigned to an opponent becomes a “modifier” button allowing you to dish out combos with devastating and gruesome (did I mention gruesome?) results. When you find yourself surrounded by nine or ten opponents the block (R1) does a great job of handling everything that they dish out. Most of these guys are not pushovers, but if you take your time you can really dish out some massive punishment.

The stealth part of this system is just fun to do. When unarmed Rau sneaks around the environment, hugging walls and walking slowly towards his opponents from behind or above in order to take them out without a sound. Once close enough the opponent is automatically assigned a button (almost always X unless there is more than one). Pressing the corresponding button unleashed a devastating “put the kids to bed” type assault that leaves the opponent either impaled or decapitated. To aide in your stealth is the very cool, Kuzo, Rau’s talisman bird that can fly ahead to certain spots where you can peer through his eyes to survey the upcoming action. This game really promotes this aspect as rushing forward unaware will almost certainly get you killed.

SOUND: 9/10
- I’ve read reviews that don’t care for the sound but I for one find the tribal drum beat music quite fitting and mood setting. It appropriately picks up when required.

The Bad
- This game is not without its minor quirks (and I mean minor). First moving Rau in any tight environments can be a little frustrating. He either goes to slow or to fast and when he runs into something he immediately stands stops in his tracks. For being such a bad a$$ he sure does have a hard time getting around a chair.

Second, the game is completely linear. This isn't exactly distracting but is a step back as far as the quality of open environments. It would have been really cool to scope out different scenarios for sneaking up on opponents.

Third, I don’t know why the developers don’t allow Rau to move while in first person mode. Since the right analog stick isn’t really used for selecting opponents in this view it would have been move beneficial to use it to look around while leaving the left analog stick to move around. This becomes evident when you start to use the bow and arrow. To use it you have to press the L1 button to go into first person mode in order to aim. Trying to aim at far off archers takes a little bit of time, meanwhile they are deadly accurate and you’ll end up with one or two arrows in you before you can find the kill spot. Being able to strafe left or right and move forwards and backwards would have made a little more sense.

Lastly, another annoying aspect is selecting you weapon. Pressing the R2 button brings up a small menu where you use the left analog stick to select one of four weapons (as you obtain them) or unarmed mode. This works just fine when you are alone in the forest and preparing for what's ahead but it is rather cumbersome in the heat of battle. Tapping the R2 button instantly brings up the weapon you had in your hand previously but it would have been better if you could quickly cycle through your weapons.

Overall: 9/10
- When finally put all together the Mark of Kri turns out to be one of the best games around and hopefully will focus future developers to produce more games of its like. Rent it or buy it I don’t really care just definitely play it.

Rating: 9

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