Mortal Kombat Review
Player(s): 1-4, 2-8 (online)
Extra Features: Online Multiplayer, Download Content, Leaderboards
I've been a fan of Mortal Kombat ever since the original game back in the early 90's and have followed the series faithfully with each new installment. The first three games are the most memorable out of the entire series for me with their 2-D appearance and simple gameplay. Mortal Kombat 4 introduced the series into a 3D setting though the 3-D gameplay elements were very limited. Deadly Alliance, Deception and Armageddon brought the series into more of a 3-D setting with more established 3-D gamplay. The series still felt like a 2-D game with some very minor 3-D elements that made the game seem to move slower and trail away from the older 2-D gameplay. The new Mortal Kombat (the ninth in the series), entitled simply "Mortal Kombat" takes the series back to a 2-D style with no 3-D gameplay elements. The graphics are still 3-D and so are the backgrounds, but the gameplay remains 2-D once again.
This new Mortal Kombat combines the look and overall gameplay of the newer MKs (Deadly Alliance, Deception and Armageddon) and the gameplay of the older MKs (MK1, MK2 and MK3/UMK3) and blends it into a new experience. Each of the characters has one fighting style, which is their own exclusive unnamed fighting style. Weapons are gone and only used in combos just like in MK3. Each fighter in the game once again has the familiar uppercut, sweep and jump kick/punch just like in the older games.
All characters are basically returning characters from MK 1-3 with the exception of Cyber Sub-Zero or Kratos (on PS3 only). Characters play just like they used to in the original MK games. I was always a fan of Reptile during the periods of MK2 and UMK3, but was very disappointed in Reptile's overall look and move setup in the newer MK games. Once again Reptile has the feel of the older ninja Reptile in MK2 and UMK3 and his look has a nice reptilian ninja look, which I found very satisfying. His move setups allows for juggles just like in MK3 as well. Characters like Kitana, Striker and Sindel as well as other returning characters play like they did in classic MKs as well.
Each fighter has a super bar that will fill up as the fighter performs special attacks and as they take damage. The player can perform a more powerful version of each special attack once the super bar is filled up to a certain amount. Once the bar is filled all the way, a player can perform a fighter's X-ray attack. An X-ray attack is a super combination of attacks that hits hard for big damage and zooms in to each opponent body part that is hit and shows a quick x-ray of the bones that are being broken. Besides being extremely flashy, the move takes tons of damage.
Mortal Kombat wouldn't be complete without plenty of blood and fatalities and this new MK certainly delivers in that aspect. The blood that characters shed is not ridiculously drenching like it was in previous MKs but the combat arena will be covered in blood after a long fight. After defeating an opponent, a player can choose to finish the opponent off with one of at least two unique fatalities per fighter. The fatalities are all very brutal and many of them are creative and match the characters well. You'll often see body parts as torsos and heads are split apart, holes in chests are ripped, and vital organs are torn out. This is the first MK that has ever made me cringe after a fatality - no male should ever have to watch Kung Lao's second fatality that often. To put it simply, none of the violence is censored or left to the imagination in this MK.
The game has several single player options. A player can choose to battle in the usual tournament where they must choose a fighter and battle their way through several opponents before getting to Shang Tsung, the midboss (Goro or Kintaro) and the final boss (Shao Kahn). This mode is referred to as the "Ladder". Besides the usual single player ladder, there is also a tag ladder where a player can choose two combatants and fight through a tournament of tag teams.
If you've ever played Mortal Kombat: Deception, you will likely remember the tag team character NoobSmoke. Tag team fights in this new MK play out much the same way as playing as that character except all fighters can be placed together as a team. A player can switch in and out by tapping a shoulder button and even tag out during the middle of a combo and allow the partner to finish. A player can use some of the super meter to call in the partner to perform a quick special attack as well. There are also several training mode options. There is an actual training mode that allows a player to practice performing fatalities!
There is also a story mode where a player can watch cutscenes that tell the story of this MK. The player will battle opponents in normal matches in between cutscenes. The story is very entertaining for an MK fan and will take a player all the way through the stories of MK1, MK2 and MK3. The story follows Raiden. Raiden has been contacted by his future self about events that will happen in the future. In story mode, Raiden tries to prevent many of the well-known events in the story of Mortal Kombat. A player will take control of several fighters and go through about 5 chapters (matches) per fighter. Not all fighters are playable in story mode.
The cutscenes are very well done in story mode. The tone is very serious for the most part and the voice acting and overall story telling is quite entertaining for an MK fan. It feels a lot like watching a new MK movie in all seriousness. If you've played past Mortal Kombats, you'll likely remember how there is usually a cheesy part in the story that feels kind of thrown in for laughs or simply filler purposes. I never did feel that way with the story of this new MK. It's very well done and takes itself much more serious than any past MK story. All of the characters feel unique and none of them have a thrown together feel to them. Often in Mortal Kombats, there are usually a few characters that don't quite match up to the others in terms of originality - in this new MK, I don't see that at all.
In the Challenge Tower a player will slowly climb a tower of 200+ challenges to collect extra coins. This mode will make a player fight in a variety of matches where different rules will be established. There might be a fight where a player slowly has abilities taken away as the fight progresses, or the player might start a battle with abilities disabled and have to survive until they all return. Some matches will have a player toss body parts at the opponent in order to damage the opponent. Test Your Might, Sight, Strike and Test Your Luck challenges are unlocked throughout this mode. This mode has tons of variety in rules. The mode does start to wear out its welcome once you get into the 200 range of missions however. It started to get repetitive and unpleasing to return to because of how long it was! On the flip side, it definitely will last a player for while with its numerous challenges.
Like I mentioned above, the game has several variety minigames that a player can engage in as well. Test Your Might, Strike, Sight and Luck can be played at any time from the main menu. Test Your Might is the usual mode where a player must tap buttons to build up a might gauge before breaking a certain type of breakable object. Test Your Strike is similar to Test Your Might except the player must build up the might gauge to a certain point then hold that power in a certain portion of the gauge for a while before pressing the button to break an object. Test Your Sight is much like it was in Deception. A player must watch as an object is covered with a severed skull or cup then moved across a table with other skulls or cups and then select the correct skull or cup that the object is under. Test Your Luck uses a slot machine to pick a player's fighter, an opponent and several possible enhancements or downgrades right before a match that the player must win.
There is an online mode that is similar to Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe in its overall lobby structure. A player can enter a variety of rooms, both ranked and player matches, and choose from a whole list of other players to fight. Players can issue challenges to other players and accept challenges from other players. Besides the basic 1-on-1 kombat and tag team kombat that are in the main game, there is also one mode that is exclusive to online player entitled "King of the Hill". King of the Hill is like a lobby theater where players that aren't fighting yet, can enter and watch the main lobby fight on the big screen in a theater.
You can pick a variety of character avatars that represent your favorite MK character and cheer on the combatants with direction and button inputs. At the end of a King of the Hill game, the winner will be chosen as the king for that match and all other players will be able to rate his performance on a scale of 1-10. King of the Hill allows a player to earn respect points based on ratings that go toward a trophy/achievement.
Online play works quite well when lag is nonexistent but once lag is present, it will mess up your timing and the overall battle quite a bit. While playing, I did run across quite a few laggy matches on PS3, especially in King of the Hill matchups. The overall timing in a laggy match makes performing combos and precision moves quite hard. It's very easy to stand back and spam a move and win without even really trying when much lag is present. When you find a lag free match, everything is fine though.
As usual, the game has tons of extras and unlockables. There are even a few hidden battles in ladder mode just like in classic MK games - fighting Reptile at the bottom of the pit! The Krypt is where the majority of unlockables can be purchased with koins as a player collects them by playing. Artwork, character outfits, second fatalities and a variety of other unlockables can be purchased in the Krypt. There is a necropolis where artworks, character bios and other information about each character can be viewed as well.
The graphics in this new MK look much more realistic than past MKs. The fighters all look very detailed. The plastic doll appearance of the other 3-D MKs is now gone and new detailed character models now take their place. All fighters have the usual battle damage that they will receive as a fight progresses. As usual, there are tons of fighting arenas. Many classic arenas are brought back and there are also a few new arenas. Some stages have a day and night setting. Each stage has its own soundtrack. Character voices in the actual fighting game are just as good as in story mode. Some fighters still have cheesy sounding phrases that they will yell out when performing some moves however such as Kitana when she performs her fan lift.
If you're a fan of Mortal Kombat then this new MK is a must buy. It blends the old school feel of classic MKs and the newer gameplay of the more modern MKs very well into a new type of MK game. The game has a total of 27 fighters. The Playstation 3 version has Kratos from God of War as one of its extra fighters from the start. Kratos has his own exclusive stage in the game as well. If you have to choose between versions, the PS3 version has the most extra content. This new MK was hinted at being much more brutal and having a much more classic feel to it and it definitely doesn't disappoint in that aspect.
+ Has the feel of the old MKs and newer MKs combined
+ Brutal and bloody just like the classic MKs
+ Tons of extras, unlockables and hidden material
+ A big variety of modes including tag battle, story and challenge modes among others
- Some fighter phrases still sound cheesy and sort of thrown in
- Challenge Tower can feel repetitive and tedious
- I had quite a few laggy matches when playing online
Final Rating: 89%. This new MK truly deserves the title "Mortal Kombat" since it feels like a new start for the series in many ways.