Saturday, 17 November 2012

Mini Review: Mark of the ninja (PC)


So after finding out that my Fall of cybertron Bruticus gift set was the wrong version (G2 colours) and sending it back for a refund I suddenly found myself with an extra £80.  And with that extra cash i decided it was time to invest a few games to drown my sorrows.

The first of these was War of the roses which I reviewed a little while back, the other was Mark of the ninja which was previously a title on XBLA.  It was added to steam not long ago and after watching a gametrailers review of the console game I decided to pick this up on steam.

OK so Mark of the ninja is produced by the same studio who made the Shank games and it's pretty obvious really since the art style and gameplay are very similar.  Klei studio's have gone from ultra violent badass killers to super stealthy ninja powered killer.

You play as the ninja, a nameless silent protagonist sent on a mission to exact revenge on a corrupt business man who has attacked your ninja temple/village/dojo.  You are joined by Ora a female ninja who acts as your guide and convenient tutorial helper as you progress through the game.

The story has a few nuances as you continue but that would be entering spoiler territory.  Suffice to say the game has a generally interesting tale with a choice at the end.  The gameplay is pretty good here.  The game plays entirely from a 2D perspective giving you cutouts of the world as you navigate vents and pipes, climb walls, hang from ceilings and set traps for your unsuspecting enemies.  The game is slow paced and rewarding for those who take their time with a kill.

Levels are designed with several ways through them with a few optional paths to uncover items for more points or finding challenge rooms that utilise all of your skills currently obtained.  It's refreshing to be able to play a level again and decide to go a totally different route discovering new ways to take out guards or new challenges from the last run.

The game never makes you feel like it cheats.  If you get spotted it's your fault.  Sound, lighting and positioning all come into effect as you weigh up a room with several guards.  Knocking out lights makes guards suspicious but when they stop searching will then be at a disadvantage.  Making noise can distract guards giving you that opening to silently remove a threat before they notice anything is amiss.

Stealth kills are brutal and initially in limited number.  As you progress through the game and unlock new ways to silence guards the game opens up and becomes a little more flexible in it's approach.  Hiding bodies keeps enemies unaware, whereas displaying a dead comrade may cause them to panic and attack their allies in terror.  Some item's can be used to kill guards silently or even send them into a drug induced rage as they attack allies.

The graphics are very slick and well animated 2D sprites which are very expressive, it's like watching a cartoon play out on screen.  The level design is functional enough although not hugely memorable.  Overall though the game looks great.

The voice over and sound work is decent enough although one enemies Australian accent is a little ropey to say the least.  The music is pretty good and changes depending on what situation you are in.

Overall Mark of the ninja is a pretty good download title.  It has high production values, easy controls for the PC conversion and plenty of replayability for those players who wish to challenge for the highest score possible.

SCORE: 8.0/10

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