Fist Of The North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 Review

Genre: Hack And Slash, Beat’em Up

Platform: Ps3

Developer: Tecmo Koei

Publisher: Tecmo Koei

Released: February 8th 2013

Hokuto no Ken is one of the most important Manga and Anime series of the 80s, creating the basis for a lot of other series. The story is quite simple but gloomy as Kenshiro fights his way to injustice in a post apocalyptic world where the only law jas become violence. While Ken will have to deal with a struggle strictly related to his past and to his martial art syle, he will be helping innocent survive in such a harsh world. The first Ken’s Rage game covered the first arc of the anime series, up to the battle with Raul: the game was pretty mediocre in almost ever aspect but surely fans of the series have been able to enjoy it for following faithfully the source material. Did Tecmo Koei create a better product this time around to make even non Hokuto No Ken fans get the game? Let’s find out.

You were already dead… but I’ll do it again

Ken’s Rage 2 covers pretty much all the material related to Hokuto No Ken, covering both anime arcs, from the battle with Raul to the final confrontation with Kaio so there’s a lot of material included into the game. The main campaign covers truly everything and for fans of the series this is gonna be a really good thing. The main campaign will also take around 15 hours to complete: some players may be annoyed by the fact that they will have to play through some of the story again but given how the game has been improved in almost every way, it won’t feel much of a chore. The game follows the anime closely so you know what to expect from Kenshiro’s adventure. A good addition to both the plot and the gameplay experience is Dream Mode: in Dream Mode we will be able to play with characters other than Kenshiro with new plot elements and behind the scenes events, shedding some light on some of the story’s most enigmatic moments. I’m pretty sure all Kenshiro’s fans will enjoy this mode for both story and gameplay since the other characters control quite differently from Kenshiro with their own attacks and skillsets.

Conquering the apocalypse

Unfortunately the gameplay formula, while having received some improvements, it’s still the standard Dynasty Warriors one and the game’s progression is quite linear: story sequences, stage, boss rinse and repeat. The stages themselves become boring pretty fast: as in all Musou game the main objective is conquering the required areas before moving on to the main objective of the stage, a Boss battle most of the time. There are some slight variations on the formula like protecting another character or moving through areas undetected but the thing you’ll be doing most during the game is bash dumb enemies. The standard enemies’ AI is really bad and they will never challenge you, Boss battles are another thing, requiring some precise stragey and knowledge of the full moveste to emerge victorious. Everything considered, the game is quite easy and you won’t be having too much problems. Dream mode gameplay doesn’t offer any variation on this formula and it makes even less sense, since a lot of the depicted events don’t really translate well into the conquer areas formula. Online and local co op make the Dream mode slightly better, with the possibility of gathering some items not found in the regular campaign. The only element making the game slightly deeper is the light role playing game elements with stats progression and skills learning but don’t expect any customization option.

My Story, My Manga

Graphics wise the game is an improvement over the original game: main characters’ models are more detailed with the environments and secondary characters still requiring a bit of work. The engine, however, works a lot better than before, with the game keeping below 60fps during hectic phases but it never falls down to unplayable rank. All the story sequences are done in a comic style, with 3D characters included, creating a faithful representation of the manga. Still to some players it may look like a cheap way to include all the story without having to work on cutscenes for everything. All the original voce actors reprise their role, making it an even better experience for all Hokuto No Ken fans.

Final Thoughts

Ken’s Rage 2 is a way better game than its predecessor: gameplay has been sped up a little, there’s a bit of variety in stages and the Dream Mode adds a lot of story content and characters. The main problem of the game is the Musou formula which make the game become boring way to quickly. For these reasons the game doesn’t appeal to gamers outside the Hokuto No Ken fan circle: some may start loving the franchise and get interested to it after playing the game but in all honesty I don’t recommend it at all. To make this game and all the Musou games better ones, the only thing Tecmo Koei can do is to break away from the formula itself but will it ever happen after so many years of the same core gameplay experience? If you are Kenshiro’s fans you will definitely enjoy the game; if you’re not, stay away from it as there’s nothing gameplay wise worth mentioning.

  • PROS

Lengthy main campaign
Dream mode adds story content
All Kenshiro’s story included
Light role playing game added
Online co op

  • CONS

Boring, repetitive gameplay
Basic Dynasty Warriors gameplay
Overall mediocre graphics
Bad enemy AI
No challenge and low difficulty level

[xrr rating=6.0/10]

6.0 out of 10

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