The hallowed franchise of over-the-top violence and gore is back with a new installment. Many remember when Mortal Kombat first came out in the 90’s and how much controversy it generated. This remake seems to want to recapture that controversy with the addition of its trademark gratuitous violence and now partial nudity. Neither of these additions take away from a core game mechanic that makes this game incredibly fun to both play and watch, and this game is sure to please both fans and new players alike.
When you break it down, Mortal Kombat is still a fighting game at heart. The series has experimented with characters and going from a 2D to a 3D environment before, but this game goes back to its roots and sticks to 3D models in a 2D arena. This change will come as a relief for most fans of the original games because this is where the game really feels good. The game itself plays and feels a lot like Mortal Kombat II, which was originally released for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis consoles. This is a great thing because for this reviewer, MKII was the best game in the franchise. Now combined with great-looking characters, new environments and new gameplay mechanics, this is my new favorite incarnation of Mortal Kombat to date.
Now we know what the new and the old Mortal Kombat have in common, let’s go into how they are different. In the new game the developer has added a bar at the bottom of the screen that keeps track of rage. When you fill the bar you are able to execute a new set of moves called “X-ray” moves. What happens when you pull off these moves is you will see your character and your opponent as if they were walking X-ray scans – you see all the bones in the bodies of both fighters, and soon after the view switches your character will perform a move, allowing you to see the internal damage caused by that move. It really adds a new perspective to fighting games since in the past you were never able to see your punches breaking someone’s jaw or your blades gouging out an eye. When landed properly these moves cause massive damage and consume about 30-40% of your opponent’s health bar. These “X-ray” moves are obviously incredibly violent and grotesque but they sure are fun to perform.
Mortal Kombat has also added a single-player campaign to the game. In this campaign you pick up where Mortal Kombat: Armageddon left off and you start by following Johnny Cage as he is selected to fight in the first round of the Mortal Kombat tournament. The campaign is separated into chapters, with each chapter accounting for a different character, but the story is strung throughout the whole campaign so you get different perspectives on the plot as you move through it. While playing the campaign you will see all of your favorite stages from the first few games redone with new animations, and they look great. The story mode is a decent addition and it really isn’t anything overly compelling, but for free I’ll take it, and it is nice to see some of the characters that you know and love receiving a little backstory and personality.
The fan-favorite bonus stages have also returned with stages such as “test your might”, “test your sight”, and “test your luck”. Once unlocked you can play these as often as you’d like by accessing the ladder system they have in place. There are several ladders for all the bonus stages as well as a ladder for challenges. These challenges include such tasks as surviving for 15 seconds without getting hit, or performing all of the chosen character’s special moves in a set amount of time. This is similar to the challenge modes found in Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 , but less difficult and much more approachable.
Fatalities are back in full swing. For those unfamiliar with fatalities, once you defeat an opponent you’ll have a few seconds to finish them off. During this time, if you execute the right string of button presses and stick movements at the right distance, you will kill your opponent in an ultra-violent way. These fatalities provide some of the most satisfying moments of the game. A new addition is the fatality training mode, which will coach you in pulling off these moves , virtually assuring that you can master Mortal Kombat.
This is a lot of content for any game but there is still more to take in. Like any good fighting game there is a deep and expansive multi-player mode to dive into. Basically, you can challenge your friends locally to a one-on-one, two-on-two, or a tag-team match using two or four players. The same options are available online with the addition of a few more modes and game types. Online you set up a King of the Hill match in which 10 players challenge each other and a mini tournament ensues. In addition to this there are ranked and unranked matches to compete in as well. The servers are fast and games are plenty, so if you are looking to hone your skills there won’t be a shortage of players to take on.
Whether you play single-player or multi-player you will get coins for your victories, and you take these coins to the crypt, where you have the option to unlock tons of extra content from concept art to music and even extra fatalities for all the characters. For those familiar with the earlier game, it is a similar system to the one found in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, but for those players who aren’t it remains very intuitive and you shouldn’t have a hard time figuring it out.
All in all, Mortal Kombat lives up to the hype and delivers on the level that the original games did. Everything in this game is very nicely polished and well-presented for existing fans and newcomers alike. Anyone who was turned off by the vastly inferior Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe should not hesitate to come back to the franchise, as everything you loved about Mortal Kombat is back and ramped up to levels you’d expect from the franchise. This is an incredibly complete and fulfilling fighting game, and anyone interested should not hesitate to pick this up. You won’t regret it.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Mortal Kombat developed by Nether Studios published by WB Games
- Awesome New Graphic Engine
- Tight Control Scheme
- X-Ray Moves are Awesome