Review by brutusmuktuk

Reviewed: 01/11/06

The Mark of a Good Game

In The Mark of Kri, Sony has produced one of the most shocking games in history, while making sure it’s entertaining instead of offensive. The somewhat cartoony look will throw unexpected people off when they see the extremely violent content underneath those looks. So I’m warning any parents looking for a good PS2 game for their children, this game is not for children. The ESRB rating does not lie to you. Of course, anybody else shocked by extreme violence should avoid this as well, but any fan of action games who doesn’t mind a good goring, will find this to be very enjoyable.

Story – 10/10 Marked Man

The hero, Rau, doesn’t have even one line of dialogue, but you can feel his warmth towards his sister, Tati, and you can feel his anger when somebody makes him mad. This is greatly helped through the facial and body expressions of Rau, which goes to show words don’t make the man, and Sony does an excellent job of creating a deep character without even having him speak.

Rau is part of a tribe of people who have passed on a mark of Kri from generation to generation, and this mark is meant to protect the world. So many generations have gone by that most everybody has forgotten why they pass the mark down, but they pass it down anyway in order not to disrupt the family tradition. The game does not even get into who is marked or where the mark fits into the game until about half way through, but before then it develops the story brilliantly.

At first, Rau seeks out jobs, just things to do to build up his reputation so he can be prepared for larger things. Interesting characters assign him jobs, and with the help of his bird, Kuzo, Rau soon earns a name for himself and begins tackling bigger jobs from stranger, more mysterious men. This serves to build up to the main conflict of the story, which I will let you find out from playing the game.

Gameplay – 9/10 Brutal Yet Efficient

The game consists of six large levels that differ from each other, and each build up to more and more intense moments. For a great deal of the game Rau only has his sword to use as a melee weapon, and toward the end he receives a spear and an axe, which allow him to target a greater number of enemies. The gameplay also consists of brutal action and brutal stealth elements. Each of these elements work and Sony blends them perfectly.

To start out, Sony eases the gamer into the game, allowing you to grow comfortable with using the bird, Kuzo, who provides Rau with a new perspective. At first there is no stealth, but a lot of sword combat. The combat works well and uses an interesting system. You spin the right thumbstick in order to target enemies in the area, and those enemies are assigned the X, circle, or square buttons, and pressing any of those buttons causes Rau to attack the enemy assigned to that button. You can still perform combos using buttons other enemies are assigned on, and these combos many times prove more than useful. One neat element in Mark of Kri is that enemies react to Rau’s brutal killings. So performing a certain, brutal combo, causes enemies in the area to recoil with shock, and some even run away. This allows Rau the opportunity to keep enemies at bay, or even attack them while they’re in shock. In many situations you will be finding yourself fighting to do one of the instant kill combos to save your skin.

Later in the game you receive a bow, and thus begins the stealth element of the game. A good portion of the game is stealth, but that shouldn’t worry you, because the stealth is very intense and very well done. The stealth kills are very shocking, especially at first, and soon you learn new stealth kill techniques and when you receive the spear your stealth kills are different once again. Rau doesn’t quietly slit an enemy’s throat; he grabs him from behind, covering his mouth and repeatedly stabs him in the gut. In the village you see Rau’s warm, friendly side, and in battle you see his vicious, cruel side, and this makes him such a unique character, especially with how Sony develops him. The bird, Kuzo, helps you out with stealth elements when you will sometimes find yourself studying an area in good detail while formulating a plan and then finally carrying it out. I must say, Mark of Kri’s stealth elements are every bit as good as those in Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, if not better in several cases.

In the last section of the game you go back to combat, but that’s because you get weapons that can target many enemies at once. In fact, the final level has no stealth whatsoever. In this level you receive an axe which can target up to nine enemies, three on each of the three face buttons used for attacking. This level becomes a gorefest in which some of the extra goals are to cut off 40 or 50 heads total. I guess that lets you know what you’re in for coming into the final portion of the game.

Visuals – 9/10 If Disney Made a Violent Cartoon…

When you put this game into your PS2, you will become entranced by the visuals, but also notice just how cartoony they seem. Rau and other characters move in exaggerated motions that seem fit for a cartoon, yet bring the characters to life with much more energy than most other games put life into their characters. What sticks out, then, is just how violent this game is. Perhaps the biggest shock level about the violence comes out of the fact that this game looks like something Disney may have drawn. It’s ironic I guess, because you don’t expect such violence from a game that looks like Zelda Ocarina of Time, but where the hero wears a loincloth.

Sound – 8/10 No Catchy Theme Song

As for most games, voice acting and the usual combat sounds are well done. The music is nice to listen to, and help add to the atmosphere. The voices help create personality in the characters, which is essential to a video game, where often times there is little room for characterization. Overall, you have no reason to turn down the volume and crank up the stereo.

Longevity – 8/10 Well, There’s Only Six Levels

Six LONG levels. But still, they’re not five hours each or something like that. The game will last you somewhere along the lines of 10 hours, maybe less. There are extra games to do, and plenty of things to unlock, but all of that combined won’t last you too long after the game is over. Sometimes gamers like 10 hour games, and sometimes we like to be able to spend more time with them. At the same time, games can run on for too long to the point we feel obligated to finish them just because we’ve put the time into them, but the more we play them the less we like them. I think Mark of Kri ends when it needs to…otherwise the developers would be stretching ideas and searching for new things, like new weapons and enemies, to throw in, which might have become too much for the gamer to handle. If you like your games with a long length, then you can complain just because this game doesn’t reach that set-hour limit, but it’s still a great game.

Overall – 9/10

Rating: 9

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