Mark of the Ninja (Video Game Review)
In Mark of the Ninja, you play as the game's stereotypical silent protagonist. The young warrior has been chosen by his clan to wear a special set of tattoos that are made from a poisonous plant. These ancient markings grant the chosen ninja with powers that are far superior to those of his fellow ninjas, but the toxins of the plant eventually drive the person insane, and the chosen warrior must take their own life to prevent attacking his own clan. During the game, you'll be assisted by a young female warrior who will act as your guide and companion. Mark of the Ninja doesn't feature the strongest storyline, but it's exciting enough to keep you enthralled in the game's action, and multiple endings will have you playing through the game more than once to see how things can turn out differently in New Game Plus mode.
Mark of the Ninja does a wonderful job of introducing newcomers to the game mechanics that are needed to progress through the game's ever increasing difficulty. Throughout most of the game, you will fight against armed soldiers who have a limited sight of view until startled and watch dogs that can sniff out your ninja. Running, dropping from high distances and other actions will create noise that will cause pulsations on screen to alert any nearby enemies caught in the radius of the sound. This can work to your advantage when you quickly move out of sight and come in from behind for a stealth instant kill with just the press of the attack button. If you are not careful to press the right button commands promptly, a guard will fight against sloppy kills and possibly alert other nearby enemies. You can't survive very much damage, so avoiding detection is key. You are awarded points that can used to unlocked more items and advanced skills for kills, but you'll earn additional points for successfully hiding dead bodies or simply sneaking past enemies completely undetected if you choose to go the stealth route. There is plenty to do and see in Mark of the Ninja with many alternative routes leading to hidden artifacts, scrolls or even hidden challenge arenas that will test your skills and patience. After completing the game, you are allowed to restart the game with all of your unlocked equipment for a second run at the game.
Mark of the Ninja is one of the best looking titles available on Xbox LIVE Arcade with the game's lighting cascading across dark environments to create the perfect atmosphere to rack up some stealthy assassinations. Beautiful cinematics accompany the game's storyline to handle key plot points and stress certain action sequences. Mark of the Ninja's great graphics are supported by a fine soundtrack that intensifies at the right times and good voice acting that doesn't distract away from the gameplay or the game's storyline. With so much content crammed into the downloadable title, it will take most players 6-8 hours to complete the game for the first time, and great replay value means you get a lot of fun gameplay for your money with Mark of the Ninja.
Not everyone is a huge fan of the action stealth genre, but Mark of the Ninja is without a doubt one of the best of this generation and the highest quality game to come around in a long time. The 2D game will have you feeling like a master tactician as you use all of the equipment at your disposal to take down your foes and hide their lifeless body in a nearby air vent while taking out their partner. Gameplay isn't too easy or too hard, but you'll surely feel a sense of accomplishment each time you get a final kill to clear a room full of enemies or use a cardboard box to sneak past a guard with no Snakes in sight! Mark of the Ninja is clearly the best Xbox LIVE Arcade titles to drop since Summer of Arcade ended, and it is one of the best available this year. Check out this hidden gem on Xbox LIVE Arcade today if you can find it!
Mark of the Ninja is now available exclusively for Xbox LIVE Arcade and can be purchased for 1200 Microsoft Points. Mark of the Ninja is rated M by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence & Strong Language. For more information on the game, check out the official Mark of the Ninja website
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Available exclusively for Xbox LIVE Arcade
Release Date: September 7, 2012