Review by KennE
Reviewed: 10/06/02 | Updated: 10/06/02
The Mark of Kri....leaves marks.
When this game first came out I'll admit I gave it very little attention, figuring it for just another lame attempt at combining the world of fighting and adventure. And the cartoony visuals and advertisements didn't help much either. After reading some of the reader reviews on this site (I only trust actual gamer reviews, magazines such as ones I'm not going to name are often biased and inaccurate.) I figured I'd check the game out with the 30 bucks I had left over from a concert........I couldn't have been more wrong. Mark of Kri is one of the most straight to the point, almost stomach turning games I've ever seen! Not to mention the innovative target system, making it the first game of its kind to let you effectively fight more than one enemy.
Graphics:10 This is where The Mark of Kri fooled me and most gamers. All of the visuals even down to the FMV's are done in Disney style animation, giving all the textures a smooth crisp look and feel as you play through the levels. All of the levels are solid and smooth and beautiful to see, but let me mainly mention character design as some of the other reviews on this site have. Rau the main character is one of the most accurate barbarian characters ever seen in a video game. (Yes, a person has to be more than a muscle bound dude with a sword to be a barbarian.) Not to mention of course he's massively built, the right side of his face his chin and his biceps are littered with tribal tattoos. As are all of his friends and family heh. All of his clothes, even his boots are made from animal furs. There is some slow down during the game, but only when nearly 15 enemies are rushing in for the attack at once, even the enemies themselves are full of such detail and character. Now so I don't rave about the gore in The Mark of Kri through this entire review, I'll just go ahead and get it all out of my system now. Everything from slicing off heads, lopping off legs and arms, even chopping people in half. Pinning someone to a wall stabbing your sword into his/her face, smashing their heads into bricks, cracking necks etc. Gruesome stealth kills and fast paced bloody fighting, the game is brutal to the point its almost sickening at times. So don't let the cartoony graphics fool you. I think you'll figure that much out when you slice off some ones arm for the first time, and they grab the numb and scream while spraying blood into the air. Also, all of Raus moves are as fluid and beautiful as they could've been done. His combos are amazing and must be seen to be believed, some even cause fatality like Instant Kill moves.
Sound:10 Sound is another high quality in the game, as all of the sound effects themselves are well executed. Everything from the sound of tearing flesh, (which gets used tons) to the sound of metal clashing together during the midst of a long drawn out battle sounds clear and crisp. Sound actually plays a part in the game, as in some missions you must sneak up on enemies. If you run up behind someone with a weapon out they'll hear your foot steps and notice you. Some even carry horns which you must really avoid as they will use them to summon more enemies if your not careful. The music is nothing more than tribal drums beating, which actually pulls you into Raus character. But the best part about the music is during fights the music changes tone pace to fit whatever situation your in. If you do a Stealth kill the music suddenly jumps up in pace then slowly calms after you kill the enemy you just grabbed. If you get drawn into a real battle the music becomes harder and faster almost entrancing in tone. The narrators voice is very nicely done as well, it gives me flash backs of the old man narrating the Conan movies heh. Rau hardly ever speaks heh, but that simply adds to his character. The only time he speaks is during the Instant Kill combos where he'll sometimes roar out the combos name.
Control:10 This is were I got scared, I figured as much as they talked about taking on three enemies at a time they would screw the controls up badly. I was wrong again, the controls sometimes almost feel to simple! You use the left analog to move Rau around, and the other to use his focus beam the innovative new targeting system. You spin the beam in circles around Rau and he locks onto all enemies that are within range and are hit by the beam. You can lock on to up to three enemies at a time, (Up to 9 if you have the right weapon.)and a button highlights each enemy. By pressing that button you will attack that enemy, if only two or one enemies are highlighted the other attack buttons are used as combo modifiers. Combos are simple and easily pulled off, yet the skill in pulling them off is in your ability to pull them off while you are being attacked. The only problem with the controls is the slight jerk in Raus running, but thats just because hes so large each step he takes covers a few feet.
Gameplay:10 Ok for starters let me set something straight, Mark of Kri is not a platform game. Its not even a straight forward adventure game. Although there is good deal exploration involved in the game the fun in the game is not in exploring...its in fighting. The Mark of Kri is a fighting game, just because its not head-to-head combat doesn't make it something else. You can tell by playing it for an half hour that most of the thought while making the game went into the combat system, which is what makes the fighting so enjoyable. The different combos and methods of killing your enemies almost seem to never end, as well as the ability to admire your handy work afterwards. Bodies actually stay on the ground, a rather small feet that most action games these days can't even pull off. I've beaten the game twice, and I still find myself coming back to play it just to kill something! (Playing it right now lol) All the sneaking around and exploration seems to be in the game for the soul purpose of making you look forward to the combat even more, which it does. The Mark of Kri is a game made for pure, simple and brutal fun. You run Rau through the rather large levels fighting enemies as they come along, while occasionally getting the chance for a stealth kill here or there. Along the way you find little tid bits of the simple yet interesting story and items, as well as it seems more and more ways to kill people with every level. Its straight forward, simple and fun. Although the game is rather short, for the first time a game was made short for a reason in my opinion. IF the game had been any longer then it is, (and its honestly not THAT short) it would be scorned for being horribly repetitive.
Story:10 The story is excellent..but still very simple all the same. The Mark of Kri is a 6 part spell, guarded and protected by many as it will give power over this world to darkness. Ok that is about all I'm going to let you know. (MUWHAHAHAHA!) Yes its simple, but once you play through the game and make it past the third level you'll see how effective it is. Its told very well by the narrator and the cut scenes that are drawn before your very eyes at the beginning and end of each level. I actually thought the ending was rather entertaining hehe, It wouldn't have hurt to give another ending or two though.
Replay Value:10 For each level there is a list of challenges that must be completely to unlock arenas. Through these arenas you can unlock cheats, new outfits, concept art etc. The outfits and art are worth earning. Especially the second outfit, as its almost a rip off of Conan:The barbarian when he sneaked into Tulsa dooms temple. A good amount of secrets means replay value....so does addictive gameplay.
Buy or rent: If your a fan of hack-and-slash style or even fighting games, look no further....especially if you like bloody ones heh. But anyone else it might be best if you just leave this one alone, or at least rent it before anything else.
I was really impressed with The Mark of Kri, and I think it would be a understatement to say it was well worth the 30 bucks I spent on it. This is certainly a game I will be playing for some time to come.
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