August 23, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

There’s something about the faux-exotic setting (Is it Maorian? Polynesian? Tibetan?) of this hack-and-slasher that reminds me of the hit animated series Samurai Jack. But don’t be fooled by The Mark of Kri’s cartoonish Tiki-land graphics — the game’s mythologically rooted story line is matched by equally compelling combat action. The basic plot should sound familiar: Kri’s hero, Rau, must do battle to prevent the forces of evil from engulfing the world. But Rau can also count on the assistance of an enormous black bird through whose high-flying eyes Rau can see. That allows your warrior to choose whether to use his bow and arrows to bull’s-eye them from afar — or to stealthily sneak up on some bad guys and let the bloody fun begin. If deciding on the latter, use the right analog stick to sweep across multiple opponents — that way, Rau can simultaneously engage two or three of them in a coordinated attack. THE ASSIST For an unlimited supply of arrows, at the start screen press X, Circle, Square, Square, X, Square, Circle, Circle, X, Square, Square, X. THE LAST SHOT Kri is as fluid and challenging as Spider-Man, but far more original. It’s the most surprising, and visionary, action-adventure game of the summer.

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