A Brutal, but Artistic Masterpiece
The Mark of Kri is one of those unappreciated last gen titles that show their gameplay mechanics as outstanding commodities. Very rarely do we have a game that intertwines multiple forms of combat so well. For example; Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay mixed stealth and shooting in a first-person view, and it done it so well that gamers and developers will never think twice when witnessing or creating a mindless shooter.
While Mark of Kri may seem like your basic beat'm up (according to the muscular man on the box art), it's far from it. The game is not simplistic, nor is it easy. The whole game moves foreward through a linear, but not-so-linear path, path that forces you to move with caution. You HAVE to plan what calibur and poison you have to use; and by that, how you're going to murder the enemies interrupting your progression. Most of them will be emplanted by camp fires and social conversations, while leaving some of their buds on watch. Some will be forced to fight you, mono-a-mono. But either way, it's fun and challenging. Challenging enough to make you feel refreshed.
The story is a basic tale of good and evil. You play as Rau Utu; a mercenary warrior following the rules and combat techniques from a former mentor. He has a pet bird by the name of Kuzo, which has the ability of giving Rau foresight of what lies afterward within levels. Things start off small--helping civilians fight off bandits and gain tresures for them. These minor tasks lead to something much greater and more clich`e then anything else. At least the story is well told, and had outstanding voice acting through out; especially the narrorator that unleashed his deep, charismatic voice.
The two twists that the Mark of Kri brings to the table are the fighting and the stealth. To make things easier for the reader, I'll organize it in this way...
The FightingIt's well done. Despite having a basic targetting system, Rau has the ability to mark enemies with the X, O, triangle, and square buttons, each indicating that if you press any of the buttons that an enemy has on it's head, Rau will attack that enemy. It makes things very cinimatic and simplistic... for the time being. As you progress later on, more weapons are founded, increasing the opporitunities in combat and complexity. You'll start to fight more then four enemies on screen, and the button targetting will have to be combines to eliminate such a large number of targets. It gives out a sign that Rau is only human, not a one-man army.
The Stealth... This is why you have to be stealthy. Rushing into every dangerous scenario will get you killed. You will have to fire arrows at specific targets that won't make you get caught. Kuzo, your pet bird, can point out things that seem recommended for the player, but usually these are just hammerd in to be either useless or unnecessary. Honestly, Kuzo is useless. Your weapon is yourself, your actual weapons, and your intelligence.
The game, like I said, is not easy. The challenging scenarios that are pushed upon you can take your breathe away. They can make you say, "How in God's name can I get passed this?!" Trust me, I said the foremer quote multiple times during my playthrough. But once you get passed these scenarios, you're amazed that you got passed them. It's sad that the conclusion is so bland and mindless in it's design that it makes me hurl. You will do nothing but repetitively cut the limbs off of retarded zombies for at least more then a half-hour. Hell, even the story's conclusion was balnd in itself, mingering on predictable outcomes that disappoint the human mind.
But despite it's horrid resolution, Mark of Kri is an amazing title. If you don't know what game to get for your old, dusty PS2; look no futher, because I highly doubt anyone has played this game. It's been forgotten in my head for a long while, and just to see the game finally pop in my head, I realized how great of a masterpiece this game was. For the price that it may currently have now: buy it and experience it.