Fist of the North Star Review


posted 11/8/2010 by Jeremy Duff
other articles by Jeremy Duff
One Page Platforms: PS3
Although Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage is a great game which I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end, it isn't without its problems. There are some troubling aspects of the game's design that fans of the series may be able to overlook considering their appreciation of the lore, but other gamers may not be so forgiving. First and foremost, the camera system used by the game is pretty bad, and at times, horrendous. Like many third person action games, Ken’s Rage uses a free-moving camera system that adjusts itself according to your location on the screen. Unfortunately, the AI sees it fit to move the camera position far too much for my liking and the manual controls are far too sensitive on their default settings to manage it on the go effectively. I often found myself running away from the action in order to reposition the camera so that I wouldn’t get killed. This was a major annoyance that really interrupted the flow of the game. Fortunately, I was so interested in the tale that was being told I kept going back even with the annoyance factor. That being said an much improved camera system would have definitely made the experience a lot more enjoyable.

Most of my other complaints with the game with details and minor annoyances. The game places the player against an incredible number of enemies, often simultaneously, but aside form the bosses almost all of them look alike. There is some variation through all of the stages and stories, but for the most part, you fight the same guys over and over. It is really a shame that a game with such detailed and beautiful graphics has to use the same character models over, and over, and over. The targeting system used by the game’s boss fights is equally annoying. It works, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t as effective as it should be, especially when you combine it with the buggy camera system. Considering that many of the bosses that you face in the game either have attacks that manipulate the environment around you or perhaps send waves of sacrificial foes at you, it doesn’t make sense to concentrate your focus on the boss their self all of the time. Often times players will be blindsided from an environmental attack or annoying support enemies because the camera forces them to focus on the boss character. The good thing is that the camera lock can be turned off, but then again, as soon as you turn it off, you usually end up in a position where it is needed or convenient.

Gamers will also notice an incredibly unreliable hit detection system when it comes to interaction with the environment. This is particularly noticeable doing times where the player yields large weapons like poles or spears. The game pretty much just allows these weapons to pass through the environment without issue; the only impact they have on the world is when you swing them in an attack motion. If you come across a particularly narrow allow that is barely wide enough for your player to get through alone, go ahead and grab that giant steel girder lying on the road and head through it because it will magically pass right through the walls and continue on with you to the other side. This problem also becomes noticeable throughout the Legend Modes’ various platforming sections; there are some portions of the game, albeit a very small amount, where players will have to traverse some areas and environments in typical platforming fashion. This will involve the scaling of various walls and jumping from roof to roof. If you combine the often wonky camera system with an unreliable hit-detecting environment, you will find some very frustrating moments in the game. Fortunately, these platforming sections are few and far between and are no means gamebreakers, but in todays day and age of technology, details and issues like this should be addressed during the game’s production.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

Fans of the anime will absolutely love Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage. Other gamers may not love the game quite as much but will find a solid and enjoyable adventure from start to finish. The game has some basic issues that really should have been addressed prior to release, mainly in the camera and hit detection systems, but fortunately the strength of the tale being told and the polish on the complete package help to overcome those issues and cap off an incredibly suiting presentation of a truly historic anime franchise.

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