Mortal Kombat Review
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Mortal Kombat is one of the most enjoyable fighters on the market and a perfect throwback to the arcade glory days. With an extensive story mode, challenge tower, and massive online potential, MK is a bloody good time.
- A perfect throwback to the arcade days in both style and gameplay
- Tons of single and multiplayer content
- A proper challenge for hardcore fans
- Super meter and x-ray attacks need adjusting
- The boss battles haven't evolved like the rest of the game
- The unskippable cut scenes
For those of us who grew up when a handful of quarters provided an afternoon of entertainment in the local arcade, Mortal Kombat is likely responsible for our developing arthritis and our oblivious reactions to anything remotely gory. The game caused quite a stir in the media when it was first released in the early 90s for its graphic fatalities and general over-the-top violence. Like many of its contemporaries however, the series changed as the years moved on – for example, we saw more action-oriented entries and a switch to a 3D-style template with the introduction of MK4. With NeatherRealm Studios’ latest entry in the series, cleverly titled Mortal Kombat, the developer not only takes us back to the franchise’s arcade roots, but also provides one of the most advanced, yet open fighters to date. It’s equally accessible for those new to the series but deep enough to keep hardcore fans thoroughly challenged throughout the lengthy story campaign and brutal challenge modes.
Mortal Kombat is not a remake of the original, despite carrying the same name; it’s more of a much-needed reboot of the series. You’ll find characters from the first three MKs, including Kratos (exclusively for the PlayStation 3), tons of level-based fatalities, a story campaign that retells the events in the original games, and an extensive online component that will surely extend the title’s lifespan for months to come. But NeatherRealm didn’t just polish the concepts, characters, and lore from the early Mortal Kombat entries; instead, it produced a game that is both familiar and fresh with new features like x-ray moves, enhanced special abilities, even 4-player tag-team.
A lot of developers are introducing compelling narratives to games that typically receive little attention in the single-player campaign. For instance, EA Sports’ Fight Night Champion featured an actual story about a boxer, and while it wasn’t perfect, it showed that there is room for a good story beyond action-adventure and role-playing games. Mortal Kombat runs so far with this concept that the story mode is worthy of its own game. You play through character-specific chapters as you are reintroduced to the events in the first three games. For real big fans of the series, you’ll probably notice the story strays a bit from the source material, but the presentation value alone should keep those same fans on the edge of their sofas.
The difficulty level may feel downright oppressive when you first find yourself facing a tag-team match on your own. That’s right; the game devilishly makes you face a pair of opponents all on your own, and as the story progresses, your enemies only become tougher. But this is nothing compared to what awaits you in the enormously tough Challenge Tower. This section acts almost like a tutorial for the different characters, but absolutely puts your skills to the test. There are typical matches, some quirky mini-games, and even the old school Test Your Might challenges. The tower provides enough content to warrant yet another game but it certainly doesn’t feel tacked on as the core gameplay remains intact.
I’m all for a challenge, honestly, and while the tower and story offer a perfect level of difficulty, the boss battles remain downright painful. This isn’t a result of bosses that are overly skilled or super-fast. Like the old games, Shao Kahn is nasty to the point he’s not enjoyable—and really, we play games strictly for enjoyment, so an update in this department would have gone a long way. This isn’t a huge complaint at all, but it still would have been appropriate to make the bosses feel more like, well, bosses as opposed to anti-special move concrete walls.
You gain Koins as you play through the game. These points are spent on unlocking items from the Krypt, an interactive area home to hidden fatalities, artwork, and other goodies. You can also spend your Koins to skip challenges in the tower, meaning if you are struggling with one area, you can see what’s ahead by dropping some hard-earned points.
The depth in the offline portion of the game is enormous. You can, of course, play classic matches against the computer or up to three other friends. The tag system matches works just ... (continued on next page)