Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 (Video Game Review)
The Fist of the North Star animated series follows the story of main protagonist Kenshiro in a post-apocalyptic world ruined by nuclear war. Ken is one of the last remaining members of a clan of martial artists dedicated to the art of Hokuto that allows the hero to destroy an enemy from the inside by attacking pivotal weak points. In other words, Ken can make his enemies explode by landing a single punch on even the most dangerous of adversaries. Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 follows the storyline of the entire manga series by highlighting the most important events of the series, and other game modes in the game allow you to reimagine the storyline and fight to ensure different results. It all sounds nice on paper, but horrendous gameplay and voice acting that is nearly as bad cripples what could be a fun game to play. If you're looking for a fun gaming experience to compliment one of your favorite series, keep looking.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 has many problems, but it all eventually leads to the game being a boring experience that is not worth your time or money. There are 20 playable characters featured in the game, which is cool, but it also means you won't have enough time to master them all and will quickly turn away from learning move sets for each character and start mashing random buttons continuously to win. This allows you to easily overcome even the toughest enemies though, making the game both incredibly simplistic and repetitive. Projectile attacks, special moves, dodges, signature attacks that drain reserve aura power and more are included in the game, but poor balance makes these moves nearly obsolete except for when attempting to perfectly reenact a scene from the series. The game does offer online and offline cooperative and versus modes like few other games can claim, so at least you can drag your friend into the boredom and get a few laughs.
Confounding the numerous design problems is graphics that shouldn't exist in a full release AAA game. While the characters look pretty good and reminiscent of the characters from the manga, sloppy animations drag down the authentic look and feel the game could have had. Lazy environmental design plagues many of the stages throughout the game as well to take away from an immersive experience. Progressing through the game will allow you to unlock new equipment and skills for your fighters, which is cool and at least takes away from the time you'll spend in combat, so that's a plus. Even if you're a huge fan of the Fist of the North Star series, it will be hard to love a game that is so flawed, for everyone else, stay far away from this release and pick up an old copy of Dynasty Warriors for cheap if you're into beating the crap out of a bunch of overmatched goons.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 is now available from all major retailers and can be purchased for the MSRP of $59.99 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 is rated M by the ESRB for Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes & Violence. For more information on the game, check out the official Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2 website.
Developer & Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Platforms: PlayStation 3 (reviewed) & Xbox 360
Release Date: February 5, 2013