I got this game in a bundle, and was unsure whether or not I wanted to keep it. After reading numerous comments and reviews about MKH, I decided to give it a try - and was really happy to get a chance to play through it.
If you enjoy Japanese-themed swordsmanship with challenging technical mechanics, fighting mobs of enemies, and grinding for upgrade systems, then you will really enjoy this game.
The aesthetics are fantastic - the detail in the different character models is very good, and the fighting special effects is well-done. The music and sounds are great, adding a high level of intensity to the brutal, fast-paced gameplay. The cutscenes are short but sweet, and add an anime-like feel to the narrative. Although fairly basic, the story is decent enough to keep you interested in the plot (although the fighting mechanic definitely is the shining gem for this game).
The controls can be challenging to learn - especially if you do not use a controller. The move list and tutorials are helpful, however, the default keybindings make keyboard play unnecessarily difficult. That being said, I completed several playthroughs without a controller (I will be attempting to complete it on the hardest difficulty with a controller, since keyboard play is far too brutal), so it is possible if you have no alternative. The learning curve is moderate to challenging because the later stages (and higher difficulties) really require you to utilize more advanced moves - like countering and parrying. If you cannot do this in the later levels (and/or difficulties), you will not get very far.
Each "level" consists of multiple waves, followed by a boss fight. Every enemy type follows a particular attack pattern that you can memorize and use to your advantage, adjusting your playstyle accordingly. For each kill you make, enemies may drop health or experienc orbs - experience is added to your total pool, which can then be used in the abilities store (you can access this at any time by pressing ESC).
There are a variety of things you can unlock and upgrade - in particular, improving your health and "katana energy" gauge (used to perform moves with your sword) is crucial to survival and chaining more combos. Improving your normal attacks will allow you to do more damage, refill more of your energy bar (hand-to-hand attacks refill your energy), and increase attack range, among a multitude of other things. You can also unlock a deadly counterattack, which is essential for defeating higher-tier enemies, and even bosses. Special attacks can also be unlocked and improved, however, it is entirely possible to complete at least one playhrough without further enhancing these things (it will just make it more difficult).
For achievement hunters, it can be both very fun and very lengthy to unlock every achievement in the game.
Overall, the game is a lot of fun, and technical players will appreciate the depth of the possible fighting controls and combinations. Definitely give this game a try.
DJSF @DJSF's Rogue Reviews