After previewing this game a few weeks ago, I finally got to sit down with the game at E3. Telling the tale of Rau, a humongous barbarian on a quest to save his world, Mark of Kri offers some of the most dynamic gameplay seen
in quite a while. I started off at an inn, one of many in the game, where I was able to interact with several different people, learning about the land and other interesting tidbits. After leaving the inn, I embarked on my first quest. Each new level furthers the story through some really unique animations, using still shots rapidly drawn in to give further detail. The best part about these little cut scenes is that the game appeared to load the level while playing them, so once the scene was over, Rau was ready for action.
The exploration in this game is just about as linear as you can get. I soon found myself in very narrow caverns with only one way to go. Following the tutorial, I learned how to perform stealth kills and other attacks, but unfortunately this tutorial left out perhaps the most fundamental lesson- how to use the locking beam. In Mark of Kri, Rau can lock onto multiple enemies at one time by swiping the right analog stick around to project a laser like beam. Once an enemy is touched by this beam, it is ascribed a preset button that corresponds to your controller. Once all enemies are locked onto, all you need to do is tap the button that corresponds to the enemy you wish to attack. Learning to do this effectively took some time, especially since it was not adequately covered in the tutorial, but after learning the system, it became fairly easy to kick ass. The 'locking beam' found in this game is so revolutionary that Sony had it patented, and I can now see why. They have made it easy to combat 5-10 enemies at one time without losing your head, either literally or figuratively, and I often found myself wishing for more and more enemies.
Since the game is basically completed, with only a few small touches to finish up, Mark of Kri looked absolutely gorgeous. The character animations were smooth and fluid, the combat was fast paced without any slow down or frame rate issues, and the in game effects, like waterfalls spraying water into the air, or Kuzzo's (Rau's sidekick bird) fly over sequences, were very well done. While I was not able to witness the kind of gore that Sony had promised in its initial press release, the game certainly was violent enough to ensure an M rating, especially given the cartoonish nature of the game.
Sony representatives stated today that the game is on schedule for a summer 2002 release, so look for The Mark of Kri to hit stores this July.
5/22/2002 Ryan Hartmann