I have to say that I have not been a fan of Mortal Kombat since I last played the third incarnation in the arcades many many years ago. Now when MK first came out – it was amazing. I can remember the sighs of “WOW!” and “OMG!” when looking at the “life-like” CGI captured graphics… aaaah. Those were the days.
In the meantime, 2D fighting games have moved on in various different directions, some more successfully than others, and Mortal Kombat has been more or less left in their wake. The transition to 3D, in my opinion, killed the series for me and apart from a few matches of each MK down the years I haven’t really been pulled in… until now.
Now I can finally say that Mortal Kombat is back in all it’s gory glory and it is ready to take it’s place among the heavyweights of the fighting genre. It has gone back to being imaginatively bloody and gory and will definitely upset a whole host of people just like the original did back in 1992. The introduction of X-Ray moves is brilliant. It is a specific move that zooms in on your opponent and shows their bones breaking, their organs exploding and various other wonderful physiological happenings in slow motion. It’s so good that I really can’t believe it has only been introduced now! While this is actually quite a small change, it does show that the devs are willing to push the boundries again, and that is what Mortal Kombat was always about. Welcome back, old friend.
The story has also changed quite a bit – for one thing, it’s actually good and quite a bit of thought has been put into it. The voice over work is also pretty decent for a Mortal Kombat title and that is most surprising. Ed Boon, creator of the MK franchise, stated that he wanted to focus on the story more and not let it be something that’s in the background as it was in the previous games. Well, I have to say that he has delivered, and then some! It caught my attention and kept it throughout the story mode.
Which brings me to all the modes available in this incarnation of Mortal Kombat. The story mode is just one of a variety of modes available in the game and it really does have endless replay value. It has the normal ladder mode – that has basically remained unchanged since the arcades. You fight a succession of characters and finally a boss character at the end. The third single-player mode is the challenge tower that starts off slow, but get increasingly difficult. In fact it borders on IMPOSSIBLE by the time you get close to the end, but you have ample reason to try finish. The reward for completing a challenge is credits to unlock various goodies such as concept art, alternate costumes and music (etc etc!). It gives you a reason to bash those buttons and keep trying – after I hardly know a gamer that doesn’t feel the need to unlock everything in a game.
The other modes are focused on online gameplay and it is this that sets this Mortal Kombat apart from every other one made up until now. Ed Boon has said that online gameplay will be a big part of this title. Now anyone who has played Mortal Kombat in the arcades will know just how important this is. The feeling of having people watch you and rating your performance was just so much a part of the arcade MK experience that wasn’t available on consoles… until now. Now apart from a new tag team mode and various other modes that are standard in the genre, there is an observer mode. you watch battles and rate them and then jump in when one of the players have lost. The devs really have done a brilliant job of brining back that feeling of community that the older MK games had in the arcades.
The game itself plays very smoothly, with a slightly different approach to buttons and combos than the previous ones. The combos are shorter and easier to pull off, but the depth comes in when you link combos with special moves. You have a special meter that fills up the more shots you land and the meter fills up slightly quicker when the opponent is blocking – all in an effort to prevent too much turtling. This has brought new life and new energy into the series and if Boon and company build on this they will take the series comfortably to new heights.
So what more is there left to say? A better story, decent voice acting, streamlined fighting system and the totally awesome X-Ray moves means that this is the best Mortal Kombat to have come out in more than a decade. Longer even… and boy have they come back with a bang!
Graphics – 10/10
Gameplay – 10/10
Audio – 8/10
Story – 8/10
Overall – 9/10
All I have to say about this game is that Kung Lao’s fatality where he throws his hat into the ground made my nails curl backwards in sheer shock. They outdid themselves on the gore and it’s deliciously macabre.