Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 review

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Striking your assailant with one hundred punches that barely touches the face causes them to explode three seconds later. Fact! Not one that I would recommend attempting, but if you are Ken then it happens all the time. Think every twenty or so seconds. Suspending disbelief is easy enough for video games of course; we gamers do it all the time. Reality distortion in gaming however should serve to enhance your state of consciousness not bleed it from your soul, which Ken’s Rage 2 tends to do around an hour into the game when you get that sense of déjà vu…

Tecmo first blended their Dynasty Warrior series with Ken’s Rage Anime in their first instalment, along the same time they experimented with various other franchises. While the first was a diluted form of Dynasty Warriors in favour of the Anime, this sequel of sorts is the reverse, a smattering of Rage atop a mountain of dim witted enemies and their slightly less dim witted captains. Throw in a boss battle after every half hour of button mashing and the result is the culmination of Tecmo’s greatest attempt at making a respected Anime so diluted with boredom, it inspires yawns instead of Yeehaw’s.

First things first, Rage 2 is not really a sequel, more of a reboot – think the Amazing Spiderman but without the amazement and you get the idea. The world has been ravaged by war and in this desolate wilderness humanity struggles to survive in pockets of hope scattered throughout the land, a land now ruled by gangs of thugs, slaughtering innocents for food and supplies, moving from one poverty stricken village to the next. Strength and Violence rule the New World and those lacking either are crushed beneath the boots of those that possess. Kenshiro however, as the sole successor to the ancient art of Hokuto Shinken, has the ability, passion, humanity and conscience to systematically destroy every bully alive in the world in the most graphic way possible. Now dear reader, this would be the time that I recommend you YouTube Ken’s Rage Anime. But if you are still thinking of buying the game that would be a mistake – merely rubbing salt in the wound.

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Press X, rinse and repeat

Ken’s Rage 2 is a mindless button mashing exercise on repeat. Swarms of enemies appear in front of your eyes as if transported from the netherworld magically. On occasion you will be blocking the spawn point and as soon as you move an enemy may very well be in full swing mid spawn. Compound that with a camera that has a mind of its own and blessed with the intelligence of a sea slug, and the result should be worthy of the infamous rage quit. However the game is so easy that smacking the X button repeatedly will see you through the majority of stages. I know as I tested this theory out with the better half. She hasn’t picked up a controller for mainstream gaming since the PS1 era, but still managed to smash her way through three stages without losing a full bar of health.

The game can be played tactically with blocking, evading and countering all available for those looking to complete the game. Armoured foes provide slightly harder challenges, especially if their armour is of the aggressive kind (such as covered in spikes). You have an Aura meter too which enables you to unleash a more potent signature move, one that changes as you fiddle with your fighters development through scrolls collected in battle. In dream mode you are Kenshiro from start to finish whilst Legends enables you to sample other characters from the same universe. If you fancy bloodletting with a friend a co-op option has been thoughtfully included.

The story progresses as you do, hand in hand. Told through graphic novel panels that interrupt the flow of the game, the cut scenes can last for minutes and are unstoppable once started. Not such an issue with the early stages, but further on when the game forces you to tackle commanders as well as the mob, dashing, countering and using signature moves, a cut scene is not what you need right in the middle of bashing X.

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A full spectrum of colours…

Utilising the scrolls effectively that are collected during your battles will help you progress through the game, but most won’t have the patience to keep playing the rinse and repeat gameplay. The environments are supposed to be desolate of course, but the palette of browns and yellows to represent such dreariness works a little too well, I wanted to hug a tree after every session.

In summary dear beloved reader (more so for reading this far) Ken’s Rage 2 is perfect for Dynasty Warriors fans that can see through all the games flaws and see the potential reward in attaining full stats for your character. Casual gamers and those curious of the Anime, stay away. It won’t frustrate you per se, merely make you question yourself constantly whether you have been reliving the same five minutes over and over and over.

Game details

Game title: Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Available for: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Developer: Koei
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Strengths: Loads of blood. Lots of head explosions.
Weaknesses: Broken record style gameplay. For the first two hours, only one button is needed.
Score: 4 out of 10

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