Review by tollbooth

Reviewed: 11/15/04

Mark of a Hardly-Average Game.

Long ago.... a great battle was waged betwixt the forces of good and the forces of evil.... blah-blah-blah. Haven’t we heard this story before? I don’t mind the same old Good vs. Evil gig as fodder for a great game, but the game has got to be good. The Mark of Kri is average at best. The good times are there, but to tell the truth, (and I always do) those good times, they ain’t all that great. And the bad times are some of the worst times of any game around. Does that make sense? Well let me explain.

STORY $$ 6/10 $$

Snooze Alert! Snooze Alert!

What we got here, is your standard good vs. evil. What more is there really to say? You are a Barbarian alive during times of peace. You long for adventure, however you get more than you ever bargained for. Of course, it happens that you must prevent an evil wizard from assembling the six evil pieces of an evil spell that will resurrect an evil force that will.... you guessed it! Spread evil throughout the land. Ho-hum, rub-a-dub, we’ve sung this tune before. But, like I say, it’s cool if the gameplay is a treat... so was it?

GAMEPLAY $$ 6/10 $$

Walk, don’t run.

A treat? Should’ve been, could’ve been, occasionally was. My gosh did The Mark of Kri have potential. On the melee front, you’re given countless combinations and weapons to murderize the Villainous Rouges.

One- the original, the sword. Oh! When you first take a look you think, “Hot dang! I can rip off four combo’s with this thing? And they’re all bloody and messy and chalked full of violence as a George W. Bush presidency.” And you’d be partially right. Each weapons does have between four and five combinations to work with. Good luck pulling them off though. With the sword it is near impossible to tap out the button configuration fast enough. I could never imagine being an old man, having the arthritis fingers to work with– you simply couldn’t do it. As it is, it is mostly impossible to pull one off. And, take it easy, Speedy, if you be quick enough to tap a combo out, you’d be hard pressed– and lucky– not to have the Bandit block it. No- the sword may seem useless for all but the most hardy button mashers. It is not until later, when fighting stronger, but slower moving Bandits, that the fast moving blade seems more suitable.

Speaking of the slower moving weapons, you also earn the brutally devastating axe and the swift-moving spear. Both weapons are slower moving than the sword– which translates to more feasibly tapped out button combinations, but the drawback, of course, is that you leave yourself more vulnerable to attack. Careful using a slow moving weapon against a slew of sword wielding Bandits. Things could get real sticky, real fast. And by sticky, I mean your blood all over the pavement like some awful skateboarding accident.

The most innovative feature of Kri is how you use the right analog stick to shoot a laser beam out: targeting enemies and assigning them to different buttons. This allows you to attack multiple enemies are once, being able to strike from all angles, however, while innovative, it more or less takes away from your combo ability. Kind of like DVD players in cars, kids should have to tear their feeble eyes away from the idiot box every now and again.

Last, but certainly not least, takes us to the bow- my favorite weapon. The bow brings us to an element of Kri that really shines. The stealth element. Now- this is hardly stealth-action in the vein of Metal Gear or Manhunt but it is definitely fun and adds to the experience. You have a spirit guide, you do. A bird that you can use to map out situations. Fly him ahead and scope out the scene. Bandits have icons displayed above their heads. Some carry horns, and if you don’t take them out first, they’ll blow on them and bring their buddies into the fray. You can always tell who’s carrying what, a bow? A sword? Armor? It is very nice having your spirit guide. You can choose to go stealth, sneaking up on enemies for a variety of kills, but you can also launch headlong into the mix, to test your might. My biggest complaint was that there was not enough opportunity to use stealth. Especially on the later levels.

(( Controls ))

Awful, sluggish and near responsive as a drunk driver. Forget about it sometimes, you’ll just be frustrated. Much like everything else in this game, the controls were dead-on to be new, fresh and down right radical, but they fell short of the mark..... The Mark of Kri, if you will.

GRAPHICS $$ 7/10 $$

Beauty and the Beast?

Very Disney in a way. These babies are colorful and extremely cartoony. I felt like I was watching some crazy Disney movie on acid. I think they were okay, I just didn’t see a whole lot of rich detail. They didn’t seem to make full use of the PS2's engine. They kept the motor running, but I desired more, and I think you will too.

A high note is that they are very violent and bloody, but honestly, a little more realism and less cartoon would’ve went a long way. Some of the environments seemed almost a little lazy. That was the problem with Kri, they had so many great ideas that would’ve made for inspired gameplay, but they just never closed the deal. A shame really.

SOUND $$ 7/10 $$

The Day the Music Died

(( Music ))

There was hardly any music at all. Most levels you’re running around, hearing only the pseudo-natural ambiance of the environment. Unless a Bandit actually discovers your existence, there probably won’t be much music to keep the rhythm of the mayhem. There is usually some type of eerie noise going on to. It sort of makes sense, but then again, not really.

(( Effects ))

Decent effects, if not a little repetitive. The gore is very sloshy and I like some of the big time grunts the Barbarian can belch out.

(( Voice Acting ))

Slightly above average. Not a whole lot of feeling or talent involved, but they kept the story moving.

PLAYTIME: $$ 5/10 $$

I beat this game in 6 hours. You could probably do the same.

REPLAYABILITY: $$ 7/10 $$

There are a number of unlockable items you probably will not get the first time through due to the learning curve, so I could see why you’d come back for more. There are also a number of Colosseum missions you can wade through if you so desire, but I fail to see the point. There are other games out there to play, so much to do, so little time... good thing you won’t have to spend a whole lot of time beating Kri.

RENT OR BUY?

Rent. Unless you can find a copy for under 10 dollars. I wish I wouldn’t have wasted my hard earned bread on it.

FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS

The Mark of Kri was so close to being a fantastic game that it saddens me it missed by so little. Everything was there, all the elements were present, but they were sitting the bench. The developers must have had other things on the stove because they seemed to put little care and time into this game. It could’ve been one of the best games of all time, there were so many brilliant, innovative ideas, but ultimately, it just turned out average. Too bad. Give it a whirl though, what the heck.

Rating: 6

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