Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks Review

There are different types of surprises in life. There's the surprise of noticing that your girlfriend has an Adams Apple or the one where you find yourself going to school without getting dressed first. But then there are the surprises that are good and you wish they would happen more often, like a bonus at work or a group of cheerleaders moving in next door. Midway's Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks for the PlayStation 2 was a surprise to me. Was it a good or bad one you may be asking on for the answer to this question...

MK is still as bloody as ever.
Iíve never been a fan of fighting games in general and Mortal Kombat in particular. I havenít seen the movies and can only name a couple of the main characters and thatís just because I follow video games not because I play the Mortal Kombat games. So when this game showed up to be reviewed you could say I wasnít too thrilled. Well hereís the surprise, I liked it and actually had fun playing it. I would say most of that has to do with the game not being a straight fighting game but more of a hybrid between an action/adventure game and a brawler.

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (SM) starts with a cool CG movie that gives the foundation for the game, though the story is fairly weak. The intro is at the end of one of the MK Tournaments and shows that Shang Tsung is not a graceful loser as shown during his escape where he causes an earthquake that causes Kung Lao and Liu Kang to fall through a big crack and into Goroís lair. This is where you take over control as either Kung or Liu and fight your way off the island and back to the academy. From here the story is connected through cutscenes that try their best to explain why so many of the arenas from the past MK games are all showing up.  But given that there are some pretty neat areas in the game itís not hard to overlook the lameness of the story.

Part of my cautious nature toward fighters is due to the insane button combos that you have to know in pull off the ultra-cool attacks. While there are some opportunities where button mashers will be in heaven, for the most part you can get by with more-or-less simple button combos. The basic attacks in SM are quick attacks which are very fast but do not do a lot of damage, power attacks that may take a moment to unleash but carry quite a punch to them, , launch attacks where you kind of toss the enemy into the air, and throw/grapple attacks that let you toss a bad guy at something or give him a nice tight hug. The control of the game makes it easy to link any of these different attacks together for some spectacular moves.