Video Game Review: Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2
Now we know what 300 would be like if Japan made it.
One of the criticisms of the Dynasty Warriors series is that each entry is basically the same game done over and over again. Whether or not you believe this to be true, Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 seems like a response to that, feeling much like Dynasty Warriors with a twist. While I do not think it is as good of a game as Dynasty Warriors, there are some redeeming qualities that make it worth a look.
Overall, the game controls well with a few minor issues. Pulling off combos feels very smooth as I was able to punch and kick through waves of enemies with very few issues. It is once they fight back that I had some trouble, as blocking takes too long to pull off for it to be useful and dodging felt too short and imprecise. Fortunately, this is a very offensively focused game, so I rarely needed to do either of the defensive actions.
Picking up objects, however, is horribly unintuitive. It awkwardly transitions to an aiming control scheme and targeting felt very slow to the point that it ruined the pace of the action. There are also some vehicles with abysmal controls, only useful when driving straight ahead into a group of enemies. Fortunately, these are even rarer than dodging and blocking.
To put it bluntly, this is a very ugly game. Many of the textures give the background the appearance of a last gen game. The locations themselves do not help this either, as they are mostly comprised of run down towns that look very bland with little to no variety between one another. There are a few other locations which fare better thanks to more colour variety, but for the most part you’ll be running through areas that consist of nothing but brown and grey.
Voice acting is entirely Japanese, so I can’t comment on its quality, but some of the voices (namely those of the young female characters) were really annoying. This is not helped by the bland, derivative story mostly consisting of Ken going to places with a young girl and beating the crap out of bad guys. The music is nothing memorable, but it isn’t bad either.
Ken’s Rage 2 takes the concept of beating dozens of enemies at once and runs with it. Large waves of foes are constantly being thrown at you as you alternate strong and weak attacks to produce combos. While there is a good amount of combos to keep the game from getting too stale, I had a hard time playing the story mode for more than an hour at a time. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as the game is set up to be played in short bursts with missions not taking long to complete.
There are attempts to throw variety in there, though none of them work particularly well. For instance, protecting villagers ends up being a needlessly annoying barrier of beating up enemies. There are also some stealth portions that prove to be useless as getting caught throws a hundred characters at you, which is exactly what I wanted the game to do so I would always get caught on purpose. Boss battles do little to differentiate themselves from common enemies other than boasting more health and a couple of special attacks.
The real issue with it is that the story mode only lets you use one character and is required to unlock its character roster. The different characters in the far superior dream mode have a great amount of variety and once I unlocked enough, I was able to play the game for much longer periods as I would alternate between them. It is disappointing that you have to play the much blander story mode to acquire these.
I tried almost a dozen times, but I was never able to get into a game online. This may be because I tried at the wrong times, but the servers already seem to be empty so soon after release. If multiplayer is an important consideration for you when buying something, I recommend you make sure you have a friend who owns this, given the lack of local co-op.
Give Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 some patience and eventually you will have enough content to provide for a fun action game with a good amount of variety. It is definitely something of a mindless romp, but there is a lot of satisfaction to be found from taking out that many enemies simultaneously, and once there is a good sized character roster, it can entertain you for a very long time.