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When We Join Ken At The Start Of Ken
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So, if you have no idea what Fist of the North Star is about, here’s a quick summary: following a nuclear war, traditional civilization has collapsed and has been replaced with a ‘strength means power’ mindset. In this world exists a series of almost mystical fighting styles, which teeter on the border between physical strength and magic. Most of these styles revolve around hitting certain pressure points on the human body, or the order in which the pressure points are hit, with various effects coming from the location. Kenshiro (or Ken), the main protagonist of Ken’s Rage 2, is the successor of the Hokuto Shinken fighting style, and spends his life travelling from village to village, righting wrongs and bringing down tyrannical rulers and gang leaders.
When we join Ken at the start of Ken’s Rage 2, he is already halfway through his quest, as the original Ken’s Rage told the story of the initial part of the Fist of the North Star opus. I came into the game with no prior knowledge of the series, and to be honest, I didn’t feel too lost, so there’s no real need to worry about having to play the first game, or be familiar with the Fist of the North Star narrative before playing Ken’s Rage 2. I’m sure if you are familiar with Ken’s story then you’ll glean greater meaning from certain interactions or story beats within Ken’s Rage 2, but it’s certainly not a necessity to come into the game with prior knowledge of the story.
As can be expected from a tale that revolves around martial arts and different fighting styles, Ken’s Rage 2 takes on the style of a beat-‘em-up, a genre which hasn’t really been given a fighting chance in the current console generation. Players initially start the game in Legend Mode, playing as Ken, but at later points can also control some of his companions, such as Rei, Mamiya, and Ken’s brother, Toki. Each character tends to have his/her own fighting style – Rei, for example, feels a lot more fluid and agile than Ken’s penchant for brute strength and solid punches. Whilst Legend Mode takes players through the second half of the Fist of the North Star narrative from Ken’s point of view, the Dream Mode (available from the start of the game) gives players the chance to play short story sections as other characters, including Ken’s foes such as Shin or Jagi (another of Ken’s brothers). These characters are sometimes unlocked by personally defeating them in Legend Mode or by progressing buy fifa 14 coins through the story.
You’ll quickly come to realise that Ken’s Rage 2 is almost the epitome of a mixed-bag in videogame terms. Whilst the character models are well-realised and quite pleasant to the eye, the environments look fairly dated, almost to the extent that they wouldn’t look out of place in a PlayStation 2 title. The gameplay is similar, in that although beating-up countless waves of enemies is fun for a while, it does get very repetitive, as that’s all you do through the course of the game. It even got to the extent that just over halfway through the game, I was able to have a full-blown conversation with someone else in the room whilst tapping the Square and Triangle buttons, and managed to overcome almost 150 enemies with nary a scratch on Ken. This is the perfect game for playing after a rough day, as it gives you the satisfaction of causing gratuitous damage to nameless enemies, without having to really engage your brain.
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