Rau and Tati battle to stop the Rise of the Kasai.
The original Mark of Kri was a little-known gem of a game- conceivably what would occur if Disney did Conan the Barbarian. Well, the sequel, Rise of the Kasai had some lofty ideals guiding it's production. Some worked, some didn't, but in the end this is a pretty cool stealth-and-slash action title.
You take the role of the Rakus, a clan of valiant warriors whose duty is to defend the hapless innocents who have been marked with evil tattoos. These vile body paintings are all part of 'the Mark of Kri', an evil magic sigil sought after by some very evil forces- particularly the titular Kasai. In the previous game, Rau, the tank-like hero, slew an evil necromancer in defense of his sister, Tati, who is revealed to be a bearer of one of the cursed marks.
Well, the saga continues ten years later, and something is wrong. Rau is dead. Or, he will be, unless a key event- a life-altering moment, is changed. In order to effect this change, the player must step play through various stages as one of two teams of Raku warriors- as Rau and Tati in the present day, and as their mentors Baumusu and Griz in the past. Only then can you unlock the secret of Rau's death and somehow try to avert this event and stop The Rise of the Kasai.
Players choose one member of the two pairs to play through a stage, while the other character will be controlled by the CPU. Originally, ROTK was meant to be a 2-player cooperative affair, but this factor was eventually scrapped for the final game. In this lies pretty much the game's main weakness- your A.I. partner is often inadequate, sometimes getting caught in a wall or glitch, freezing up or spoiling your plans for stealth when he/she decides arbitrarily to go in all guns blazing (or blades flashing, as the case may be).
Otherwise though, it's not that glaring, aside from a couple of hiccups. The game still shines through with excellent character designs and fluid animation, large stages and pretty straightforward goals. Fighting is deep, with the ability to lock onto foes and assign targets to buttons on the controller. It can get a bit frustrating sometimes when enemies block all the time when you're hurrying to hack them to pieces, but overall the action is fast, satisfyingly brutal and slick.
Beating through the stages is just part of the game. Hidden goodies are unlocked by accomplishing 'challenges' through every stage. These extras are cool- such as artworks from the game developers, and nice extra outfits to see your Rakus in through your second or third time through the game (my favorite is 'Evil' Tati in the thong and tattoos).
But what really makes Rise of the Kasai fun is the cool story, told well through good voiceovers, lovely art and really pretty 'paint brush' cinemas. If only for the story, ROTK is worth the price of admission, but adding to the fun is solid gameplay, sexy visuals and some brutally fun action. Rise of the Kasai is now out for the PS2. Mark a copy now for yourself and get chopping!
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