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Rise of the Kasai: Dark Mark

The Mark of Kri was a very deceptive game thanks in part to its Disney-esque visuals. What looked like a game geared towards the 10 and younger crowd turned out to be a violent kill-fest featuring some of the most brutal kill animations seen on the PS2. Rise of the Kasai follows its predecessor step for step in each category while adding a few new touches to keep the game fresh.

In-game visuals retain the same style as the previous game, but have a much ?bigger? feel to them. Areas are a little more open, allowing for more room to fight. The biggest difference is in the cinematics. In the first game, levels were introduced by paintings that slowly filled in, eventually giving way to the 3D levels. Now the cinemas are done completely in the painted style, making if feel like you?re reading the story from a set of old manuscripts (which just happen to be moving).

Rise of the Kasai is both a prequel and a sequel to its predecessor. In some parts of the game you?ll play as Rau, who is now a much wiser warrior after his ordeal in The Mark of Kri, and Tati, who was only a child the last time we saw her. Much of the sequel part of the story involves Tati, who has been cursed with a mark of Kri -- an evil tattoo that grants its bearer special powers and a pesky bent towards the dark side. Rau and Tati?s episodes revolve around the pair searching for information on the mark. This storyline ties into that of the prequel, which introduces two new characters, Griz and Baumusu. Griz is also marked with the same tattoo as Tati, but has learned to master its power. Baumusu, who was Rau?s mentor in the first game, serves as Griz?s bodyguard throughout their adventure.

At any time during a stage you will have two characters. At the beginning of the stage, you choose which you want to control while the A.I. takes over for the other. Depending on which of the two you choose to play as, the game?s dynamics change slightly. Rau and Baumusu are brutish warriors who deal out massive amounts of damage while Tati and Griz are nimble fighters. Each compliment each other?s abilities; for example, while taking one in for close combat, the other will watch your back with a ranged weapon.

Aside from its visuals, combat was what really made The Mark of Kri stand out. The same system returns in Rise of the Kasai and works with each of the character?s fighting styles. Rotating the analog stick marks enemies with a symbol corresponding to the buttons on the controller (Square, X, Circle...). Tapping these buttons attacks the marked characters. Hitting the buttons in rapid succession unleashes combos, each more deadly than the first. Button presses and combos are the same for each character, but the resulting attacks and damage are different based on who you are playing with.

Jumping headlong into combat is only one part of the equation. Stealth also plays a part in combat, and the results are just as brutal as when brandishing a weapon. After sneaking up on enemies, they can be tagged in the same way they would in normal combat. The difference is that all the kills are silent, and usually involve a broken neck or a head meeting a stone wall.

Rise of the Kasai is more about refinement than reinvention. But, as the sayings goes, ?If it ain?t broke, don?t fix it.?

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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