Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage User Review
Neutral = clunky controls, setting stays the same
Cons = play stages over, repetitive, friendly AI not smart
Worth = fans of the manga buy new, fans of Koei warriors buy used, new comers to these type of games or trophy hunter rent it
SHORT SUMMARY OF REVIEW
This is a Dynasty Warrior spinoff based on the popular manga series Fist of the North Star. It suffers from the same thing as other Koei Warrior games, but tries to shake up the formula by adding a skill chart, fun signature moves, and easy puzzle elements. The first play through is great. After that your just going to grit your teeth from playing the same stages over and over. You'll probably just stick around for some easy trophies.
Ken's Rage for the PS3/Xbox360 is based off the Fist of the North Star manga and follows it very well. You will be mainly playing as Kenshiro, a master of Hokuto Shinken. A sacred assassination art of the north star that can kill you in one blow by striking one of your vital points. Kenshiro will be fighting across a post-apocalypse world destroyed by nuclear warfare to protect the weak and to search for his fiance Yuria. She was taken away from him by the Nanto Seiken master Shin and left 7 scars on his chest in the shape of the Big Dipper. Nanto Seiken is the exact opposite of Hokuto Shinken. Being fist of the south star it focuses on air pressure to kill enemies externally. Your journey will start at the point Kenshiro gets imprisoned, while searching for water. Then ends at the Raoh arc which is one of Ken's Older brothers, but not biological.
It has a nice story, but not told as beautifully as Asura's Wrath. The cinematic scenes are on point. If you watch the opening that is pretty much how the graphics look like. Reminds me of a Dragonball Z game like raging blast except less cartoony and more polished. It plays similar to the Koei warrior games with a bit more action-adventure elements and having fist combat like God Hand. The pacing in the fights are slower and the enemy count isn't as high. You might have to find the path to your destination by smashing walls, avoiding toxic wastes, climbing mountains, throwing poles to hit a switch, and move boxes to jump on a higher platform. The concept is easy and simple compared to other franchises like Tomb Raider, but we have to remember this is still a brawler at its' core. Occasionally you can ride a motorcycle and maybe a horse. So don't expect to speed your way through this.
Combat in Ken's rage consist of linking normal attacks and strong attacks together. Then you also have the common game play mechanics such as jump, recover, block, and throw. One of the most important features is taunt. Which will have all your enemies come at you swarming. Don't worry, you can activate your spirit aura with the L2 button. It is basically a super mode or you can consider it going super saiyan. Each character has a special move, 4 slots to equip signature moves, and 3 hyper signature moves that are already permanently installed. So you should easily get that trophy for killing over 1,000 enemies with signature moves.
You will spend most of your time in the games Legend mode. Which follows the storyline of the manga. Each stage has 7 missions that you can complete to give your character added benefits. All stages have a final boss that can only be beaten with something called a finisher move. You basically press a series of buttons once the boss life is low enough. If you end up dying you get to keep your skill points (basically experience points). In dream mode there is 2 player co-op and it is very similar to what you do in a regular Dynasty Warrior game. The biggest difference is instead of taking over a base by beating one captain. You have to beat a bundle of them. Also, defeated enemies don't randomly drop items. You have to smash things in order to find those and you'll have to deal with the win/lose conditions. Dream mode is more of a what if story telling and hopefully your friend is better than your fellow AI. Who just isn't actively helping like they would in Warriors Orochi 3. Finally you have challenge mode where you can take on all Nanto Masters back to back or do other difficult tasks.
Some of the modes mentioned above have to be unlocked through playing Legend mode or downloaded. The same goes for the characters and their costumes. List of playable characters: Kenshiro, Raoh, Toki, Jagi, Rei, Shin, Mamiya, Souther, Heart, Outlaw. Each character belongs to 3 different type of style category. The nanto type can press the triangle button when it pops on the screen and perform stronger attacks for a limited time. The hokuto and special type can stun enemies which will increase the amount of damage the opponent takes.
The sound effects are pretty solid. You will hear and feel every meaty hit that slaps the skin of your opponents body before they begin to swell up like a balloon. Then explode like a volcano as the blood gushes out of their body. If you don't want to see this then you can turn off the gore. You also have the choice of changing the difficultly. The music is mostly just heavy guitar rifts. Which might make you want to rip off your shirt. Did I mention your character loses more clothes and get more bruised/bloody depending on how much damage you take? Don't do anything naughty with Mamiya now!
Voice acting is fine in my opinion. Unless you feel people like Laura Bailey (Lust in Fullmetal Alchemist, kid Trunks in Dragonball Z) are terrible at what they do. In this one she is the English voice actor for Mamiya. If you want to listen to the Japanese voice actors like Katsuyuki Konishi (Kyoshiro/Kyo in Samurai Deeper Kyo, Altair ibn-La Ahad in Assassin Creed) who is Kenshiro's Japanese voice actor. Then you can just change it in settings.
Some common complaints about Ken's Rage is the clunky controls. Which is true especially to Kenshiro at the beginning until you level up his move sets, but not all characters feel this way. The setting does stay the same. They are trying to stay true to the series post-apocalypse theme. Your pretty much going to see dirt, dust, busted up buildings, and rusted metal all the time. TecmoKoei does a good job of making every stage feel different though, but then falls short of having you play as different characters just on the same stages. The thing that surprised me the most about this game is that they added a skill chart!
It is at least 30 hours long if you try to play through all of the games modes. The trophies in this one are easy to get if you play as each character and maybe a little grind for 4 trophies in which you have to beat 5,000 enemies each using hokuto, nanto, and special type characters. Then you get one for beating 10,000 enemies. Consider this to be your trophy guide. It is not hard, but requires some work to get that 100% and platinum trophy.
Fans of the manga should hurry up and find them a brand new copy. If you like Koei warrior games then I suggest buying it used. It isn't as good as Warriors Orochi 3. If you are new to these types of games and/or your a trophy hunter. Give this one a rent. The formula is shaken up a bit in Ken's Rage. Though it won't change the opinions of people who don't like Samurai and Dynasty Warriors. So they should obviously stay away from this one.
I wanted to be a little more innovative and not do ratings on my reviews. So you will always see 100 on everything.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.