In 1991, Street Fighter II was released with unanimous acclaim. But this review isn’t about Street Fighter ll. In 1992, Mortal Kombat (MK) was released to a slightly less unanimous acclaim but was still good, not that I would know, as I was about 8 months old. Still, thus began a rivalry which would last for years to come; Street Fighter on one side, with its slick fighting mechanics and HADOKEN!’s, and MK on the other with its comic violence, gruesomely over the top fatalities and Demonic Ninjas. Year on year, Street Fighter kept coming back and evolving, but in some ways MK fell into the domain of cult gaming and in the shadow of its rival.
Now, after a few dodgy incarnations and the liquidation of its original studio, Mortal Kombat is back with a vengeance, but does it live up to the hype?
Get over here!
Of course, the centrepiece of any game of this type has got to be the fighting. The mechanics of MK are pretty easy to pick up, as within a few minutes you can be learning specials and combos and doing pretty well. However, the greatest thing about MK is that whilst it isn’t as deep and complicated as Street Fighter, it still rewards players for investing time and effort into learning the characters, all of which are different. It’s easy to learn but very hard to master, as the main strategy required is the ability to juggle an opponent. However, this also proves to be the main downfall of the system as it can often feel clunky and unfair when an opponent desecrates half your HP in one swoop. X-rays; automated combo sequences which provide a detailed view of a character’s internal damage whilst dealing a lot of pain, are a welcome addition to the formula and are my favourite, yet also least favourite type of move. Although it is incredibly satisfying to shatter an incredibly detailed ribcage, it is also incredibly frustrating to be on the receiving end.
Most of the characters are well balanced with a good selection of moves and combos. Unfortunately, the developers have fallen into the trap of forcing cheap bosses upon us, which can only really be defeated by repeatedly using your teleport and projectile attacks when they taunt.
As usual, the famous fatalities are gruesome, varied and brutal. My personal favourite involves ripping off the opponent’s arms, beating them to death with them, and then clapping their demise with their own hands. Epic.
You will Die Mortal!
There are many different game modes in this latest outing, but the centrepiece is definitely the Story mode. The narrative allows new players to understand the current story and the world, but also offers long-time MK fans plenty of moments which can only be fully appreciated with prior knowledge. Throughout, you are made to play as different characters, which is good when learning what play style is best for you. Occasionally you will have to face off against more than one opponent, which can feel incredibly unfair at times. Again, boss appearances here are also cheap and feel unfair, especially when you are forced to fight TWO cheap bosses at once. However, no fight is impossible and as such it always feels worth the time and effort once you defeat overwhelming odds and you earn a ridiculous amount of Koins.
Other modes share this; none more-so than the 300-level plus Challenge tower, which mixes normal fights with really bizarre modifiers. The ladder and tag ladder modes are the same old arcade action found in earlier games but as they say, don’t fix what isn’t broken, as it is here where a lot of the action is to be found.
Koins earned in all modes can be spent in the Krypt, where most costumes, secrets and fatalities are to be found. However, they are all buried, so it’s a case of unlocking everything to find what you want.
Graphically, fights are superb; from the actual fighting to the brutal and gory fatalities, and the menus are fantastically fitting for the game. The story-mode cut-scenes aren’t bad, but could be much better.
Surprisingly for a fighting game there is some great voice acting, although mostly you’ll only hear them saying; “uh ah uh oh ah.” Every hit sounds painful and substantial and the background music is exceptional (when you can hear it over the grunting). I wish I could review the multiplayer, as this is bound to be the massive selling point, but due to the on-going PSN outage (and my lack of real-life friends) I haven’t been able to try it. One thing you must be aware of however is the system the developers have chosen in regards to online multiplayer.Every NEW copy of the game comes with a code which you link to your PSN account to allow multiplayer use. Without this code, you CANNOT play multiplayer, although they plan on selling new codes to people who buy a used copy of the game. This controversial move means that even if you buy a used copy you still have to pay extra for multiplayer.
Personally, I love this game. Despite its flaws, it retains the cheeky, comic violence and charm of the series whilst successfully rebooting it for a whole new generation. Yes, the bosses cheat and sometimes you get the feeling your enemies are psychic, but does that really matter when you can feel the satisfaction of ripping off someone’s head? Undoubtedly the best of this game will be shown when PSN returns and the elaborate multiplayer options can see the light of day.
Until that day, I’m happy to be ripping cyborgs and reptiles limb from limb.
· 29 Varied Characters.
· Easy to pick up and play.
· Brilliant Story and Graphics.
· Cheeky Comic Violence.
· Multiplayer Features.
· CHEATING BOSSES.
· PSN Outage.
· Lack of slightly deeper combo mechanics.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.