Mark Of Kri
Mark Of Kri images
Review of Mark Of Kri
I have been following the development of The Mark of Kri for some time now. The game has always intrigued me and appeared to be genre-busting game that combines elements from a variety of different gaming disciplines. Well sure enough, after sitting down and playing the final version of the game I can safely walk away with a deranged smile of pleasure on my face with the knowledge that I have indeed just played something new and fresh…Which is a real treat in this age of rehashed ideas and rather stale gameplay.
First of all there is the production and front end of the game…it is awesome. The game begins with a wonderful introduction that lays the plot for the story. It appears that a series a dark spells have been created with the sole purpose of causing complete and utter destruction. In an effort to prevent this dark occurrence from being invoked, the spell was broken into six separate parts, six lines and six incantations. The spell was then scattered around the word, being entrusted to six different families. As time past, the spell become something of ancient lore and people began to believe that the story of the spell was nothing more than mere legend. Finally, the pieces were brought back together again and the time that evil had spent waiting would some be rewarded.
Enter our hero, Rau, whom has been training to become a noble warrior since infancy. His time has now come when he can take his skills and put them to use. It is here that the actual game begins, with Rau starting off his adventures in an Inn. The Inn acts as a sort of portal or beginning place to start each new challenge or level. Gamers will be given two choices, accept their first challenge or train with Rau mentor, Baumusu. I would strongly recommend the training, as The Mark of Kri uses a battle system that is quite unique.
Training takes place in a ring that already has 3 dummies set up for you. Players will quickly learn that is not just as simple as running up to someone and bashing their skulls in. Pressing the right thumbstick causes Rau to cast a red beam of light from his position. By rotating the stick, Rau controls the beam and can direct it towards the enemy, which in this case happens to be the three dummies. As the beam strikes each dummy, a button icon is assigned (Square, X and Circle). Up to three enemies can be locked in this manner at a time. The opponent you are facing will become locked in front. By pressing the icon that is assigned to that enemy, Rau will commence his attack. No here is where things get interesting. Rau can also pressed one of the other two assigned buttons, which will enable him to attack the other two enemies that have been selected. Once an enemy has been dispersed, or if Rau has only locked onto one or two other enemies, the third button becomes free and can be used as a modifier. This will enable Rau to chain together powerful combo attacks that cause big time devastation to the enemy. A specific combo can also be performed by pressing an assigned button four times if other buttons are assigned to other enemies. I know this may sound a bit confusing, (and to be honest, at first it was very strange) but once you become accustomed to this different style of combat, the appreciation for what is being done here is ensured. By simply pressing the right thumbstick (R3) one time Rau can disengage all of the enemies and reuse the beam to lock onto new enemies if it makes strategic sense to do so. Later in the game, other weapons that Rau obtains will enable him to lock on up to nine enemies at a time!
Two other key elements are covered in the initial training (players can go back to the Inn and train throughout the game to get a feel for other weapons and moves); the defend/block move and how to use Kuzo, a magical bird that becomes Rau’s eyes. The defend move plays a critical role in the successful completion of the game. Without it, the hordes of enemies that often swarm him will hammer Rau. Pressing the R1 button allows Rau to defend against attacks from enemies that are in front, on the side or in back of him. IF Rau doesn’t have a weapon drawn, this move can be used to disarm an enemy and use their weapon against them. Timing is critical in pulling this maneuver off so keep practicing…the reward is well worth the effort.
Using Kuzo is also an important part of the game and besides; it is just so damn cool! Here is how it works…Kuzo is always at Rau’s side, but when Rau sees a beam of light with a goblet in it, he can lock his vision on it. Once the goblet begins to spin, Rau can press the L2 button, which then sends Kuzo to the location. Once Kuzo lands, the viewpoint is switched to that of Kuzo’s (we are now looking through his eyes). Turning the left thumbstick is all it takes to gets a nice 360-degree view of things. The display used to depict this vision is pretty neat with the display getting fuzzy around the edges of the screen. IT really makes it look as though you are looking through someone else’s eyes. Switching back and forth between Rau and Kuzo is as easy as pressing the triangle button. Kuzo can locate other beams of light and progress to these locations with an additional press of the L2 button. Each perch gives Rau a strategic viewpoint of where enemies are situated which he would never have been able to get on his own. This plays a critical role as stealth is employed during the game and enables Rau to more effectively sneak up on his opponents. Kuzo can also be used to help decipher ancient writings that Rau quite simply cannot understand.
As you can see, the combat and “accessories” used in the game are quite unique…but now it’s time for action.
Upon accepting his first mission, Rau heads out of the Inn and is transported to the starting point of the new level. At the start of the game Rau is equipped with a Broadsword and his years of combat training. He is quite thirsty for battle. After briefly taking in the exquisite background scenery it is off to battle. Rau immediately notices a beam of light and sends Kuzo ahead to scout out the situation. Kuzo easily spies four enemies…three at an encampment and one up on a ledge. After sizing up his prey, Rau runs into combat. Targeting the three hoods was just as easy as in training, but out of instinct I immediately began mashing buttons to hit the person in front of me…only to see Rau slice at the three locked targets. It took a bit of time before I was able to sit back and relax and really use the combat system to its advantage. In no time I was slicing and dicing my victims to shreds and using the modifiers to pull of some wicked ass combos. Bottom line…the battle system works and executes really well…it is just something that needs some getting used to.
For each level, Baumusu will issue a series of challenges that Rau should try to meet. An example of some challenges during a level might be to kill 9 enemies, have Kuzo retrieve a save scroll, have Kuzo decipher ancient writing and execute a specific combo. As each challenge is met, you are notified and well as when all of the challenges have been pulled off.
Control of Rau is very tight and responsive. The one thing I did get quite annoyed with though was the collision transitions. What this amounts to is when Rau hits a wall, bench or other solid object there is a slight split second pause that occurs and the player must re-direct Rau to the proper direction. While this is actually quite realistic and makes perfect sense, I am very used to this detection and correction being done automatically for me in most videogames as it keeps the pace flowing better. The other strange thing that took some getting used to was the fact that there is no jump button. Instead, if there is a location that requires Rau to climb or jump he will do so automatically just as long as you are guiding him in the appropriate direction. Makes perfect sense, just once again something that I was not used to doing in this manner.
Difficulty in the game ramps up at a perfect pace in my opinion. The first level familiarizes Rau nicely to the combat system and proper use of his weapon (attacking to close to a wall will result in missed hit on the enemy and many successful hits on the wall or swinging too close to wood may end up with your sword getting stuck and you getting hammered as you try desperately to free your weapon). The next level introduces the stealth elements and really show the importance of properly using the services of Kuzo. Stealth plays an extremely important part in this game and must be mastered if you hope to be successful. Stealth is performed by sneaking up on an enemy without your weapon drawn, locking onto him, and then pressing the “X” button. Rau can also press himself against a wall and carefully approach an enemy in this manner. Some of these stealth kills are depicted by decapitation, skewering a victim to a wall and other vile, gross depictions of death…I really liked it! Of course, on occasions Rau will be detected. In these instances, since Rau is unarmed, the R1 disarm technique is critical (or you could simply just arm a weapon…but the disarm attack is way more intense).
Once these levels are completed, consider your indoctrination officially over and the game really starts to test what has been learned and kicks into high gear. Thankfully, Rau is well up to the task and will also acquire new, more powerful weapons as the game progresses. One of these weapons is a bow, which compliments your stealth attribute perfectly. Learn how to effectively plink off opponents, but be careful to not drop one by another enemy, as it will undoubtedly alert him to your presence. All through the game little tactics can be employed to useful advantage, for example; Kuzo can be used to fly down and disturb a small flock of birds. This will distract the enemies long enough so you can slip in for a kill. Of course inadvertently disturbing birds on your own can be detrimental, as it WILL alert enemies of your position so be wary. It’s little things like these, when combined with the overall gameplay that really make The Mark of Kri such an immersive experience.
Now, couple that with gorgeous graphics and sound and you have a great game…and here Kri succeeds as well. The games art style and direction is incredible. Every nuance of the time period you are playing in is captured and relayed perfectly on the screen. The backgrounds are truly awesome with highly detailed environments and not a sign of jaggies or aliasing to be found…anywhere.
The character models are also nicely detailed and very well animated. The first thing that came to mind was that I was watching a Disney flick…that is until the violence kicked in. I was not really surprised to learn that a former Disney team is in fact responsible for the art direction in this game as the crew is now employed in the Sony San Diego studio.
At the start of each new level, interludes feature beautifully hand drawn artwork that gradually melds into the actual gameplay screen. There are also wonderful particle effects, lighting and shadowing taking place. The game is truly a real looker.
The sound and music are also top notch with great jungle beats, soft, quiet arrangements and spooky, tense scores that fit in at all the right moments. The blazing sound of the horn when Rau is spotted and the cry’s of pain when someone is getting mutilated are just a few of the sounds that stand out in my mind. Even the narration and character voices fit perfectly.
There is really very little to fault in this title. The levels are enormous and varied. The combat system is surprisingly deep and inventive. The sound and graphics are of extremely high quality. The game rocks…plain and simple. Besides the little collision nuisance that still bugs me a times, the game is triple A. Also included is the opportunity to visit a Sage while you are at the Inn in between levels. Here you can visit Arenas that you have unlocked during gameplay. The Arenas really test your fighting skills and place Rau in scenarios where he must kills as many people in as short amount of time as possible, as well as other challenges. Costume/clothing upgrades can also be done here as well as viewing clips that are unlocked as you progress. Special game codes are also reveled here, so visit the Sage often to see what stuff has been unlocked.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Mark Of Kri' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Tom Rooney © Absolute PlayStation
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