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I've been singing the praises of Mark of the Ninja since day one, but if you still need convincing that this stealth action sidescroller is worth your gaming dollars then by all means read on.
Price Paid: $15 (1200 Microsoft Points)
Recommended Buy Price: $15
Time Played: 26 Hours according to Raptr.com http://raptr.com/tengaport
Difficulty: n/a (though New Game+ is tougher)
Glitches / Crashes: none
Will I buy a sequel: Definitely
Will I buy DLC: Most likely
Mark of the Ninja builds upon the strong, cartoon-like, yet hyper-violent style KLEI demonstrated in their previous titles Shank & Shank 2. This time though they've replaced the straight up brawling for a more nimble, yet every bit as deadly, stealth approach.
Sticking to the shadows, Mark of the Ninja challenges you to strike at your enemies before they see you coming. With an arsenal of death at your disposal, and a multitude of options on how to proceed, you'll be relying on both equal parts smarts & sword if you want to survive. The more gear you unlock, the more freedom your awarded to tackle the levels however you see fit.
If sneaking past enemies is your path, then stick to the shadows and make your move. If you prefer to leave a trail of death in your wake grab your sword and let loose your fury. There is no time limit to to rush you along, so early on it becomes apparent that you are running this rodeo and it's up to you to as to how you want to play it.
The game also has a fantastic style, and KLEI did a incredible job adding sound indicators into the visual style. Enemies will be alerted to noise, but this is something that you can use to your advantage to lure them into your blade. Enemies will also react to what they see which includes any dispatched comrades you might leave in their path.
If you want to be sadistic you can further terrorize your enemies by flinging a dead body down on them, or stringing one up to a light post for them all to see. The reactions are just priceless. As long as you don't let them catch you in the process.
As the game ramps up, so do your abilities. New abilities are unlocked during your progression while new gear will cost you skill points which are earned by level challenges. These challenges add an additional test to your ninja skills as they require you to perform specific feats during a level.
Some you'll get without even knowing it while others might require a replay or two to obtain. There are also challenge rooms hidden among the levels which require you to use your ninja skills to solve puzzles
After the game really got going I kept anticipating that the current chapter was going to be the last. The campaign just kept on going though with some unexpected story twists thrown into the mix. Sure, the action and gameplay are in the drivers seat but there is still a story riding shotgun along for the ride.
So yeah, Mark of the Ninja is just fantastic. The game handles great, looks great and is a pleasure to play. I hope KLEI graces us with some DLC or an eventual sequel because even after being the game and New Game+ I still have not gotten my fill.
Two huge thumbs up for Mark of the Ninja and a strong contender for Game of the Year!