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A&E >  Entertainment

Story and graphics set bar in ‘Rise of the Kasai’

Al Toby Knight Ridder

“Rise of the Kasai”

••• (out of four)

BottleRocket Entertainment Inc. for PlayStation 2, $39.99

Rating: M (Mature)

Storytelling often gets shortchanged in adventure games, with plotlines taking a backseat to graphics and game play. “Rise of the Kasai,” the prequel/sequel to “The Mark of Kri,” serves as a solid blueprint for programmers on how to develop a game through a strong story line.

The plot focuses on four warriors and their fight with the Kasai cult, which seeks world domination through black magic. Gamers have the option to play Rau, the sword-wielding warrior from “The Mark of Kri”; Tati, a nimble and merciless fighter who is Rau’s younger sister; Griz, a veteran warrior whose skills mirror that of Tati, his niece; and Baumusu, a rotund barbarian. (If you haven’t played “The Mark of Kri,” don’t worry; you won’t get lost.)

Tati, who bears a mysterious tattoo, a key part of the story, is the best character to use in this game. Her finishing combinations are slick, gory and easy to learn.

The graphics during game play are solid. The levels set in the outdoors, particularly the cities and temples, stand out the most. The graphics of the storytelling mode, illustrated mainly through sketch art, are spectacular. They blend well with Kuzo’s dramatic tone and roll nicely into cinematic reels.

“Rise of the Kasai” would work better if gamers had the freedom to choose among characters in the middle of a level. Instead, once you make a commitment to one character, you’re stuck with that choice until you clear the board.

There also are glitches with the computer-controlled protagonists. In “Rise of the Kasai,” you’re paired with another character. Sometimes, however, your partner doesn’t follow your plan and causes unnecessary headaches.

The gameplay features in “Rise of the Kasai” should have been better, but the story and the graphics are strong enough to keep gamers in front of the console.

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