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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Sony (San Diego Studios)

 

ESRB

Mature

 

Released

July 30, 2002

 

 

- Strikingly detailed fighting sequences

- Excellent multi-character fighting system

- Scouting bird a life saver

- Great Don Bluth-like caricatures between levels and during loadings

 

 

- Game can degenerate into a skulk-and-kill game

- Difficulty not particularly high and not very long game (less than 20 hours)

 

 

Review: Gungrave (Playstation 2)

Review: Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (Playstation 2)

 

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The Mark of Kri

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

The Mark of Kri (MoK), is an interesting action-adventure title where you are a Mongolian horde-esque adventurer looking to make a name for yourself by defeating brigands, thieves, and general evil doers. Besides having one of the funnier late-night television commercials (that poor guy getting worked over as the striking dummy for a women’s self defense class and snaps…), MoK boasts a streamlined combat system that allows you to "target" and simultaneously fight up to 3 people at once. For a game that can easily degenerate from a stealth mission to taking on a swarm of enemies single-handed, this is important (and the easy to use controls certainly help out immensely).

 

mark-of-kri-1.jpg (108564 bytes)          mark-of-kri-2.jpg (100168 bytes)

 

The complexity of the fighting system changes depending upon the number of opponents that you’ve "targeted." For example, against one opponent you have access to all of the combos that can be unleashed, but as soon as you target a second opponent more than half of your striking combos cannot be completed; and a third eliminates all but the most rudimentary combos (but then again you have more important things to worry about besides looking suave, right?). The aforementioned combos represent not only a different way to eviscerate your opponents, they represent a way to circumvent blocks (i.e. an opponent is using a high-guard blocking stance, but a low swinging combo will stun him and open him up to a beating). Your own blocks on the other hand are impermeable, but during some of the conflicts… you’re still going to get nicked frequently no matter how quick you are at defending yourself. The only complaint about the fighting system is the repetition that quickly develops – once you learn the 10 or so ways to kill an opponent (multiply this annoyance by about a hundred once you learn to stealth-kill people) you’re going to become REALLY intimate with those animations.

 

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The game’s graphic style captures that Mongolian horde theme. All the buildings look like wurts and the Asian features of the main character – an expert on all things military – certainly oozes that vibe. The main character, Rau, a young adventurer and warrior of royal descent accepts missions on behalf of people (the source of the six levels of MoK) and generally fights evil. Starting only with a broadsword, Rau becomes proficient at unarmed combat, archery, use of battle-axe and spear. (The last two allow targeting up to 9 or 

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6 opponents respectively.) Aiding Rau is his spirit guide Kuzo, who can scout ahead and help by picking up certain objects or opening new areas of a level. He quickly becomes invaluable in planning engagements. Once you begin opening and playing in the arenas, you earn the opportunity to use different outfits, some of which may not inspire additional fear in your opponents but will certainly get you in the mood for some pillaging in China.

 

mark-of-kri-3.jpg (112438 bytes)          mark-of-kri-4.jpg (106286 bytes)

 

The game centers around the Inn. This is where Rau learns about his next mission, receives additional training (absolutely vital once a new skill is taught or weapon received), or visits the shaman (he’s the repository for cheats, movies, arena battles, and the opportunity to revisit old levels looking for things you missed). The in-game action depends upon the gamer; MoK can be played in almost any manner: an idiot who charges into every battle, a would-be ninja obsessed with skulking around corners and the silent kill, or a combination of the two techniques for the balanced attack. For a game touted as a combat-oriented action experience, I must admit surprise – almost the entire game could be played only resorting to stealth-kills. (This definitely won’t appeal to those looking only for a hack-and-slash game… although the game could potentially be played in this manner, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.)

 

The game itself looks and sounds above average; although it is not the most spectacular game I’ve seen in recent months, it certainly isn’t the worst game either. The computer AI is one of the more erratic that I’ve seen since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System – one moment the enemies are disturbingly dangerous, taking turns attacking you such that you can’t mount a decent offense and the next moment they are standing around like idiots while one of their friends was either dragged away and killed or punctured with an arrow.

 

Re-enacting sample guard banter:

 

"Gee Phil, where’s Ted?"

 

"I don’t know Rob… maybe he’s getting lucky with a cheerleader by Crystal Lake?"

"You mean after he broke a mirror over that black cat that crossed his path?... Phil?.... Phil?... Now who the hell are you and why are you advancing upon me with a sword?"

 

mark-of-kri-6.jpg (104513 bytes)          mark-of-kri-7.jpg (154968 bytes)

 

MoK’s AI swings between moments of brilliance and shear stupidity like a pendulum. The difficulty and game length make this game one of the shortest adventure games in recent memory – I was able to defeat the title in a little over 20 hours of game play. A more motivated gamer should be able to beat it in less time.

 

All in all, you end up with an interesting title that the advanced gamer may want to rent instead of buy.

 

- Tazman

(September 2, 2002)

 

It's like a party in my mouth, and everyone is throwing up

               - Fry (Futurama)

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