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     " A game that should have been on Sony's great push list. "

      Title: Mark of Kri by Sony

      Format: PS2 Hack and Slash

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: Arguably the oldest of the gaming genres, the 3rd person hack and slash fighter has been deluged with countless hundreds of titles each trying for a piece of your proverbial pie. And in that morass has certainly been the PS2's fair share. Still, Sony thinks you've got room for one more and that they've got something worth saying to justify occupying that slot. So, do they? Read on, my monkey…Read on.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: I love cartoony looking games. Don't get me wrong, realistic graphics are great but there's something about a nice cell shaded anime feel that really makes me smile. Maybe it was one too many trips to see "The Little Mermaid" as a kid, I don't know. Regardless, Mark of Kri has some great visuals in spades. Presented in a storybook animation style with tons of the classical Disney-esque earthy tones, the whole game is gorgeous from front to back. Special note also has to be made for the animations which are amazingly smooth and pleasantly humorous. 4.5 out of 5

      Playability: There aren't a lot of gamers out there who don't love the "hack-n-slash" genre. There's something fundamentally satisfying about the pound and make dead philosophy they perpetuate and, for all my love of higher strategy and action games, I always like to keep up on them and use them as the fall back of my game library. Thus I was incredibly surprised when Mark of Kri came sliding across my desk and I hadn't really heard of it. Sure it's had the obligatory TV spots and an occasional magazine ad, but I really knew little about the game and, thus, was expecting the unremarkable like so many other buried 1st party games. What I got instead was a fantastic, well thought, and innovatively intelligent game that should have been on Sony's great push list.
            While essentially the same as any other hack-n-slash (run over there, kill this, run back here, kill that, etc.) Mark of Kri has some very unusual components that set it head and shoulders above the genre. First and fore most are the graphics which, as I said above, are exceptional. Second, is the high role stealth plays in your overall choices and abilities (especially compared to the completely mindless standard of this genre). Finally, but by far the most interesting, is the ingenious control system the game's worked out. In a standard 3rd person fighter like this there is usually 1 or 2 attack buttons that, when hit repeatedly or in sequence create combinations. You then run around, smacking the button(s), killing everything that gets in your way. Fun, but not exciting. Kri, on the other hand, uses a fantastic combination of controls to give you a ton of variety and strategy in play. When you engage in combat each target gets a button symbol over their head. When you want to attack that character, you simple hit the corresponding button and lash out at them (kind of like passing in most football games). That in and of itself is genius since it gives you a great and free form way to engage in mass melees. What's even cooler, though, is they've given you an option to lock on to fewer targets- in which case the other buttons become combo sets. So you get the option, engage a lot and hit them all with essentially basic moves or pick and chose your victims and hit them with elaborate and high damaging combos. It is an amazing system that I hope to see much more of in the future.
          Not to be all praise, though, the single drawback to Kri is the occasionally bulky movement controls. It looks like they were more concerned with graphics than with camera and movement and it does show at times. Still, the frustrated moments of being unable to move around a box will quickly be forgotten in the overall great gameplay. 4.5 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Few things kill a game's staying power like short scenarios and lack of multiplayer- and unfortunately this game has both. The no multiplayer is understandable given the story orientation of the game, but really detracts as the system would have worked just fine with two people playing coop. The short length and dull story, however, are just atrocious. Averaging 6-8 hours from start to finish Kri runs short and doesn't deliver much on the plot or side quests. Makes me think it might run better as a weekend rental than a purchase. 2 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: As I said before, the plot is weeeeaaaak. You play the role of Rau, wayward barbarian in search of adventure when he falls into a plot with…Hey! Wake up! You were falling asleep at your computer. Not that I'm surprised- the story's as hackneyed as anything I've seen and is told with about that much gusto. 2 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       In the end Mark of Kri is a great hack-n-slash that, with a few modifications, could eventually become an overall amazing game. If they only would have included multiplayer and a decent story you could have been looking at a game for the ages.

      The Good: Gorgeous with a killer combat system.

      The Bad: No story, short, and it's single player only.

      The Overall Ugly: A fantastic couple of days worth of gaming.

      What it's Worth: Rent it first, buy it if it catches your fancy.

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