Review by forgetfreeman
A Potentially Great Sequel Hampered by Design and Budget Issues
As someone who is a fan of Dynasty Warriors and Fist of the North Star (Hokuto No Ken) I enjoyed the First Ken's Rage game. It had issues sure, but it done what fans of the source material would expect. The first game ended where the first Anime series ended, just after Kenshiro's epic fight against Raoh. I thought then that the Sequel would obviously follow the adventures of the second Anime which focuses on the adventures of Bat and Rin (now grown adults), as well as Kenshiro's adventures in the land of Shura. Ken's Rage 2 does that, just not in the way I was expecting.
After booting up the game some worrying things start becoming quite evident. Gone is the testosterone fueled opening Cinematic like the one the first game had, loading screens appear all over the place, even from going through menus, then the game starts,,, exactly where the first game started. To say that this game has some strange design decisions would be an understatement. Ken's Rage 2 covers all the same ground it predecessor did, albeit with a reduced budget, loading screens overload, and a frame-rate that can't seem to make up its mind what it wants to be. Surely a more sensible decision would be to create a separate game with different content. It feels like it's half of a sequel and half of a remake, very strange.
Graphics - Presentation in this game is disappointing, as stated, the game clearly has a reduced budget compared to its predecessor yet they have tried to cram more content in, as well as everything that was in the first game. Little touches such as the close ups of the characters during their special moves is removed, and some of the intro screens with voice overs from the original game (which actually had some nice artwork) is replaced with a comic like still shots from the in game engine. It just looks ugly and lazy. If they had actually used art as opposed to the game engine it would probably be more engaging. The constant load screens also dilute the presentation, especially in the main story mode. Again this is probably a budget issue.The levels look barren and lifeless but this is true to the source material so at least they're serviceable. Some of the levels (such as the Hokuto Dojo and some of the Shura locations) actually look pretty cool and have rivers and whatnot in the background. Characters and enemies look similar to the first game (albeit with a less stable frame-rate which makes animations look a little jerky) and the redesign of the characters still have that over the top appearance which is a bit jarring for fans of the original material. The character of Mamiya, (who looks like a proper realistic woman who wears a practical outfit in the anime and manga) looks like she's about to audition for a strip-club. The thigh-high heeled leather boots and whatnot are just a bit much for a game which has gangs of psychopathic killers running amok everywhere.
Sound - A bit of a mixed bag here, the voice acting is solid but there is no English voice-overs and the majority of the music is just lifted straight from the first game. The sound effects do their job well. One problem with the music however is during Dream Mode which tends to use the same track over and over, eventually you will get sick of it and just turn the music off, a bit more variety for this mode would have been very welcome.
Play-ability - The combat is a lot faster than the first game but this is something of a double edged sword, it feels much more like a Dynasty Warriors game. In the first game the characters attacks had long animations which meant you had to make absolute sure that your attack would connect or know the cancelling trick to let you string into a different move, it added more of a fighting game element to it. In Ken's Rage 2 the faster speed makes it more like the X,X,X,Y move-set we've been spamming since Dynasty Warriors 2 back in 2000.
Replay-ability - Ken's Rage 2 does have a lot of content, but before you can get to the stuff which is enjoyable you have to slog through the main Legend mode which has horrible pacing and interrupts the flow with loading screens galore. Once you unlock Dream Mode characters however the game is quite enjoyable in a "had a hard day at the office, let me kill hundreds of stupid AI enemies" kind of way.
Conclusion - If it seems like I am being overly harsh I really don't mean to be. I did enjoy some of my time with it, but it was in the dream mode where I'm doing things that every other Dynasty Warriors game does and that the first Ken's Rage did better. I could only recommend this to fans of the source material, anyone else would be better off with a Dynasty Warriors or Warriors Orochi game to scratch the same itch.
Product Release: Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (EU, 02/08/13)
Got Your Own Opinion?
Submit a review and let your voice be heard.