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Sunday
May222011

Mortal Kombat Review

"Finish Him!", "Get Over Here!", "Toasty!". Memorable quotes The moves look and feel brutal, from simple punches and kicks to mental x-ray attacksfrom a classic and well-beloved franchise. Now, some franchises go from strength-to-strength with every game, innovating as they go to stay relevant and still maintaining a very high quality (Zelda, Mario) and other franchises stay to the same tired formulas, making the only slightest adjustments to the gameplay, often taking the game in the wrong direction and lowering the overall quality of the experience as a result (Sonic, Fable). Mortal Kombat was one of the latter.

The first 2 games are considered classics by many old-hands in the gaming industry, with some also hailing the 3rd game as a success. but after that, the franchise took a U-turn. Mortal Kombat 4 changed the flow of gameplay by adding weapons and side-stepping which wasn't a big success. The series also ushered in a few spin-off games that were very badly received. Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe was the last game that held the Mortal Kombat name and whilst doing well, wasn't quite the fully-blown MK sequel fans were hoping for.

Mortal Kombat is definitely a return to form for the series. The graphics are great, some of the character's teleports emit a smoke effect that looks fantastic for the fraction of a second it's on the screen. The injuries your character takes on during the course of the fights look horrific and painful, and everything moves at a silky-smooth  frame rate, in fact, I don't remember the game dropping a frame throughout my experiences with it.

Some might call Baraka's X-ray "excessive"...The mechanics at work here are solid. Blocking is effective enough that if you don't do it you'll definitely lose, Powerful moves have a long enough cool down to make them risky enough not to abuse, and throws are effective. The game is also good for beginners, being very button-basher friendly. A big part of it's beginner-friendliness is the new X-Ray system, meaning that once your X-ray meter has built up a simple squeeze of both triggers lets your fighter do a super move that can really turn the tide of any fight.

The game is loaded with the usual modes you expect from fighting games nowadays, with versus, arcade and challenge modes, but what MK does differently is that it throws a long and well thought out story mode into the mix. The story (which essentially re-writes the Mortal Kombat cannon) is extremely well told and sets a new standard for storytelling in fighting games. The game transitions from cutscenes to fights seemlessly and without a single loading screen. It's really pretty impressive.

The game's other features are well fleshed-out too, with your No head mode means punching the head wont work... obviouslytypical arcade mode consisting of fight after fight against the game's tough AI, and the challenge tower which throws loads of tough mini-games in with the fighting. A mode called "Test Your Luck" has a roulette wheel being spun before the match and a selection of weird match modifiers get picked at random, like no head mode, no arm mode or even infinite X-ray meter. It adds an element of randomness sure but it also smothers the fight in fun.

The game's not perfect though. The game's bosses are ridiculous, choosing to randomly not flinch after getting hit and doing stupid amounts of damage with every Fatalities are DEFINITELY still hereattack, the only way to beat them is to be ridiculously cheap. Difficulty is a problem which plagues every single-player mode in the game, although it does seem that losing at a fight 3 times in a row automatically lowers the difficulty of the fight. I also ran into a problem with performing moves as it seems the sensitivity of the left stick is far too high. I tested it out with multiple controllers, even trying it with friend's controllers and still the problem persisted. Any kind of downwards flick of the stick meant that when the stick pinged up to the neutral position it resulted in a jump. In such a fast-paced fighting game, imprecision of any kind is murder. Imagine going for a teleport and instead jumping right into the path of an attack. all too frequent an occurrence for me.

So what we have here is a success! Mortal Kombat does enough new that it can be enjoyed without feeling outdated but also packs in enough old stuff to please the die-hard fans of the series. There's tonnes to do between the challenge tower, fun online and abundance of ways to play, not to mention the ability to unlock extras using currency you've earnt by playing the single-player modes. While I had some problems with the game, overall I had a blast playing it! And if you can find some like-minded friends to enjoy the absurd violence and Fatalities with, all the better.

 

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